Ask Juan: How the hell do you remove an OtterBox Defender Rugged Case?

otterbox defender case ask juan help how to remove take off somegadgetguyA couple months ago I did a three part series on my favorite line of rugged cases, the Defender from OtterBox (linked below this video). Even though I showed in detail pretty every feature of the case, and how to install one, I missed one crucial aspect in all three reviews.

How do you take the darn thing off? Good thing my Youtube viewers call me out on stuff…

Shop for OtterBox on Amazon:
iPad Defender Case Review
Nexus 7 Defender Case Review
Lumia 920 Defender Case Review

Google Fiber Lights Up Provo This Month

googe fiber provo video broadband comparisonHow excited are people for faster internet access? They’re lit up enough to be producing their own commercials.

No seriously, we could be looking at the beginnings of some real groundswell awareness here. The numbers are so huge, they’re difficult to visualize. Throughout most of California, the fastest service we might have access to is 50Mbps download and 6Mbps uploading, but my sustained data rates are usually lower than that. Right now, people are sharing Google Fiber speed tests which crush the best I can get. It’s not even close. I’m seeing downloads more than 20 times faster, and uploads 180 times faster.

Think about it every time you upload a photo on social media, or a video to YouTube. Would you want a 5Mbps data rate or a 900Mbps data rate? Think about every time you fire up Netflix while everyone else in your house is using their own smartphone or tablet or game console. Would you want “50 megs innernet” or 900 megs to feed all those glowing rectangles?

See those numbers start to get big, so the people of Provo shot this handy little video to help you visualize the differences between the service you spend a lot of money on, and the service Google offers for pretty much the same price.

Google celebrates 15th Birthday with Piñata Doodle game and new Hummingbird Search Algorithm

google 15 birthday doodle pinata search hummingbirdHappy Birthday Google! Why didn’t I get a B-Day reminder on G+?

The present to open is an entirely new Search algorithm dubbed “Hummingbird”. This is a complete departure from their previous search updates. Instead of focusing on keywords and meta-data, the things SEO gurus always push, Hummingbird is Google’s first attempt at semantic search. Good SEO will still matter, but good content will matter more.

It’s an ambitious undertaking as computers aren’t always great at judging what we mean by what we say, but ranking content by what its made up of, instead of its keywords, should mean that organic search terms should provide more meaningful results. Users should get better hits now simply by asking the questions they would ask other people. Real live humans don’t like having to parse terms. Now typing “Where can I find the best pie in San Francisco?” should get us closer to eating good pie than before where keywords would’ve been pulled out of that query.  Hopefully in execution it should start to resemble the way IBM’s Watson is able to make meaningful responses to conversationally asked questions.

Get the full scoop at Inside Search, or hit up to try it out, and while you’re there play the Piñata Doodle Game! BIRTHDAY!

QuickOffice now free on Android & iOS – Includes 10GB additional free storage on Google Drive

quickoffice google drive android tablet phone documents spreadsheets free somegadgetguyJust a quick heads up!

Google recently bought out QuickOffice, and it looks like they’re ready to start bringing it into the proper stable of other Google Apps. QuickOffice can integrate with Google Drive, and it provides much better tools for document and spreadsheet editing (IMO) than the stock Drive app. Not the least of which is the ability to create a new document while offline…

QuickOffice has become my go-to solution for writing while traveling on my little Nexus 7, and now it’s completely free! That should be enough for you to at least give it a whirl, but Google is going to sweeten the pot a little more. If you install by September 26, you’ll also receive an additional 10GB of cloud storage through Google Drive.

Hit the Google Drive Blog for more info, or go directly to Google Play to install QuickOffice!

Pick Your Poison: OS Fragmentation or Feature Fragmentation?

One of the most impressive aspects of owning an Apple phone or tablet is how good Apple is at rolling out OS updates. With very few meltdowns, MILLIONS of devices are updated on launch day, and the entire ecosystem moves forward very quickly. Early estimates point to almost 30% of iOS users are now on iOS7. By controlling the hardware and software environment, Apple has created a process Google will probably never be able to approximate.

TheAppleLounge iOS-7-Comparison-ChartWhile even older devices will get these OS updates, iDevices like the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 wont be getting all of the new features of the OS. This makes sense as it’s older, under-powered hardware, and Apple is ruthless about protecting the user experience. However, as what we get excited about during an OS update are new features, claiming the iPhone 4 “also gets iOS7” is a very small touch disingenuous. It does get iOS7, just not ALL of it.

The Apple Lounge built this great graphic detailing which devices would be getting new features, and which would be left out. On the whole Apple has done a terrific job of moving things like Control Center and Multi-tasking forward, but some lost features might be a touch frustrating.Things like panorama photos and in-camera filters might be kind of a bummer for folks who prized the iPhone’s camera. Also, for as frustrating as it can be to transfer files on and off iDevices, the lack of AirDrop on older hardware might be frustrating for some.

This also brings up weird splits in product lines. The iPad Mini is largely the same internal hardware as the iPad 2, but the iPad 2 will not be receiving Air Drop support while the iPad Mini will. Ditto the “iPad with Retina Display”. If you have the iPad 3, no Air Drop for you, but the iPad 4 is good to go. Definitely a bummer as we would imagine the hardware in the iPad 3 is probably more robust than in the iPad Mini.

Contrast that with the scattered OS update path on Android, and Apple still has the cleaner process, but Google is taking steps to improve the Android ecosystem. They wont be able to corral all of the various manufacturers, they’ve been trying to do that for a while now, but they can go around them to a degree. Over the last several months we’ve been watching Google slice pieces off of Android and putting those pieces up as stand alone apps. While it might seem like a small thing, it shouldn’t require a full new OS update to install a small improvement to something like the keyboard, and now Android users can install the stock Nexus keyboard as a separate app.

google settings app screenshot somegadgetguyTaking that idea a step further, the new Google Settings app shows up in your app drawer now and gives you a lot of control over gaming, Google+, and remote device management (like tracking your phone if it gets stolen). Google Play Services is also updated through the Google Play app store. Rather than waiting out full OS updates, all of the peripheral services and controls, things that developers interact with for instance, can all be updated independently of the OS.

While most services like G+, Play Music, and Maps have always been this way, and people are somewhat used to them being one part hardware and one part cloud, I hope this idea extends soon to other features on our phones like the camera. Taking a cue from the Nexus Keyboard app, it would be a nice way to unify the camera experience on Android handsets, that there would be one simple Android camera experience if people want something simple and familiar. Ditto the photo Gallery, as it can be jarring moving to a new phone and having a completely different experience for organizing and sharing photos and videos.

This solution isn’t perfect either, as some improvements will still require that full OS iteration, and things like hardware controls have to be buttoned down (hello Bluetooth funkiness), but as Google implements more individual component updates, fewer and fewer Android users will be left out in the cold as app developers and services move forward.

I’ve come to the opinion that there really isn’t a “best” phone, tablet, or ecosystem anymore. For a couple years now, the question you have to ask yourself is: What compromises are you willing to live with? As even low end phones now can be surprisingly capable, I think service and support will become even more meaningful to the end user.

So pick your poison. What kinds of updates work better for you?

UPDATED: Is Verizon refusing to activate Nexus 7 LTE on their network?

google play nexus 7 lte att t mobileIt’s stuff like this which keeps consumer confidence low.

Author Jeff Jarvis is raising a bit of a stink on Google Plus. Apparently, after getting a Nexus 7 LTE, he tried to activate it on Verizon. During the Nexus 7 announcement it was stated that the New Nexus would be compatible on AT&T, T-Mo, and Verizon Wireless. That last one is proving to be a touch frustrating for Mr. Jarvis.

After reaching out to Verizon on Twitter he received the following cheeky reply:

Yeah, ya see VZW, that’s absolutely the wrong way to handle a customer with a problem. Sardonically patting them on the head with a “your bad”. This is made even funnier / more frustrating as their current line up of tablets is pretty uninspired. Well done VZW. You’ve managed to exacerbate a frustrating situation and highlight your own device line-up inadequacies all with one poorly thought out PR tweet.

It’s moves like this which just reinforce consumer desires to have less and less to do with their carriers. When they seemingly provide little value, and only stand as barriers to using the technology their customers want. The number of my personal friends who have expressed they wished their carrier was just a big dumb data pipe and to get out of the way. It doesn’t have to be that way VZW, but you have to offer a compelling reason or service.

Jeff Jarvis has been organizing his ordeal on Google Plus. At the time of this writing he was reaching out to Sundar Pichai, the Senior Vice President at Google in charge of Android and Chrome… So that’s probably not good…

As it stands now, Google is now advertising only AT&T and T-Mobile versions on Google Play. A little frustrating, as eventually you’d hope that we could get one version of the Nexus 7 which we could take to any carrier we want. It looks like Verizon doesn’t want to play ball…


Continue reading “UPDATED: Is Verizon refusing to activate Nexus 7 LTE on their network?”

Google updating Wallet, Send money to other Wallet users, store Loyalty Cards

google wallet updateThe dream of mobile payments, tapping a phone to a store kiosk to pay for your shopping. Google’s been slowly pushing into this consumer relationship with Wallet. Storing your credit card information, and utilizing NFC to tap & pay at select retailers.  This hardware functionality has progressed very slowly as cell carriers have been trying to push a competing standard called ISIS, which uses a different kind of security which is incompatible with Google’s offering. Pretty much means we consumers get left without a working solution. Any time there’s a “format war” it’s bad for the industry (remember HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray). As it stands now, only 29 phones have proper NFC tap & pay functionality. I’m sure you notice a disturbing lack of Verizon and AT&T handsets on that list…

We’ve heard little news from the Wallet team over the last several months, but it looks like Google has been busy working on a Wallet expansion. Rolling out soon to Android users in the United States, Wallet is about to learn a few new tricks.

Google opened up the ability for Wallet users to send money to other Wallet users through GMail, and now that’s coming to the app. In a clear shot at services like Paypal, transfers from a linked bank account are free, and a 2.9% fee will be attached when sending money with credit or debit card.

In addition to payments, Google is also expanding the scope of Wallet to take some of the strain off of your physical non-digital wallet. If you’ve got a stack of store Loyalty cards, you can leave them at home now. Wallet will store and track your cards, coupons, and points alongside your purchases. Having used similar services, it’s nice just pulling up the card on my phone instead of having a bunch of filthy, peeling, plastic tabs on my key ring.

The Wallet update will roll out this week.

More info on the Google Commerce blog.

So long Google Nexus 4, and thanks for all the fish…

nexus 4 out of stock on google play somegadgetguyThe King is dead. Long live the king.

The market disrupting Nexus 4 is no longer in stock for either the 8GB or 16GB flavors on Google Play. LG’s first attempt at a pure Google handset was a controversial entry into our list of Nexii. Some loved the glass back, some loathed. Some people felt the camera under performed, and heavy users wished for more battery life.

What no one complained about however was the price. Starting at $199 OFF contract, Google found a brilliant price to shake up the mid-range and high-end markets. In sharing the Nexus 4 with friends and family, telling them it was a $200 phone, few realized I meant $200 out the door, not $200 on contract.

But all good things must come to an end. Google isn’t known for being sentimental. You wont see the Nexus 4 stick around as a lower cost alternative. Now we play the waiting game for the Next Nexus. It’s been teased and leaked, and we know LG is behind this next one as well, most likely a cousin to LG’s G2 like the Nexus 4 was to the Optimus G.

Fingers crossed Google can keep disrupting smartphone pricing…