Mobile Phones & Devices

Impressed with Google Handwriting Input

While searching for a way to put emojis on my Twitter posts, as it seems that it only works on iOS devices, I stumbled on the brand new Google Handwriting Input app which was released yesterday. As it name says, the app converts handwritten words and shapes into text input on your Android device. It supports 82 languages, cursive and printed writing and will work with or without a stylus.

Google Handwriting Input
Google Handwriting Input easily recognized my terrible handwriting and even offered auto-spell correction.
I’ve been using it since yesterday on my Nexus 5 and what a joy it is to use. I’m very impressed as it recognized my terrible handwriting even after my finger has ran out of space on the screen and was literally scribbling over the letters I just wrote. Another cool thing about it is that it accepts or recognizes my national language Filipino without auto-spell correction kicking in and making a mess of my grammar and sentences.

The only thing I can’t seem to do with it is write the number “0” as the app interprets it as the letter “o”. Over all though, the app is impressive (can’t say this enough) and is the perfect companion to the already awesome Google Keyboard. It works on phones and tables running Android 4.0.3 and up.

Anyone else who has tried this great new app from Google?


Switching back to Firefox

Sorry Google, but I had enough of the sluggish and buggy performance of Chrome, the web browser I loved for so many years. I remember the good feeling when I switched over from Firefox. Back then, it was like being on cloud 9 – web pages loaded fast, they looked good and having more than 7 tabs didn’t force my PC to kill it self. The experience was even more delightful on Linux. That was years ago. Now, it’s a complete nightmare. Every time I launch Chrome and open Gmail, Gmail, yes your own site, it would take a good 5 to 8 seconds for it load. In Internet terms, that’s more like a decade, heck my Photoshop now opens up faster on my PC compared to Chrome loading Gmail.

For other sites, it’s the same. No matter the method, be by clicking on hyperlinks, bookmarks and manually typing URIs on a new tab, it would not even load the page anymore. Instead, I get this:

Chrome error
Every time I open a new tab, this happens.

Trying out tips from the community like disabling the hardware acceleration in the Settings menu, removing plugins and extensions and even updating to latest version did not work.

So while I finish this post on Firefox, I am left to wonder, as do the rest of the Chrome users, what the heck happened Google? Why can’t you fix Chrome?

Mobile Phones & Devices

Bitten by the Nexus 5 memory leak bug

After receiving the Android 5.1 update via OTA last week I calmed down. Confidence shot up by a couple of points knowing that my Nexus 5 once more is sporting the latest version of Android. I should be. I’ve never had issues with Android updates in the many years of using Nexus devices. Until now.

Nexus 5 memory leak

While the performance and battery consumption have been improved, well as far as I can tell, my Nexus 5 has seen an increase of restarts and crashes. At first I thought it was because of the many apps I cycle through on a typical day. But no. Even after clearing the previously running apps, my phone would just freeze and a manual reboot would be required. After doing my homework, and this time around really paying attention to the details, I have come to the conclusion that the Android 5.1 update has brought the memory leak bug to my Nexus 5. So much for patiently waiting for the update via OTA.

How does it compare to before updating to Android 5.1? I borrow the words..err, tweet of @FlopNRoll:

Fortunately, Google and the Android team is working on it as news of an Android 5.1.1 update – which finally address this memory leak issue once and for all – is soon to be released. When? Well, it’s from Google so your guess is as good as mine.

Are you also using the Nexus 5? Have you updated to Android 5.1? Are you also suffering from the same issue?


Google please, keep the next Nexus smartphone under 5 inches

Android Central reports:

eToday reports that Google engineers recently visited LG’s headquarters and factories in South Korea as part of an upcoming collaboration with the codename ‘N000.’ That device, the publication claims, will be the next Nexus smartphone, which reportedly also carries the working name “Nexus 7.” The Googlers’ visit to LG reportedly included locations relating to LG Display and the company’s R&D labs, as well as facilities involved in manufacturing wireless charging parts and OIS (optical image stabilization) components for cameras.

I love my Nexus 5. The size is just right – the screen is large enough for a great viewing experience, it still fits easily in my pockets and is comfortable to hold in the hands. Anything larger and it’s just a pain. That’s why when the Nexus 6 ‘phablet’ was released I told my self that I’d holding on to the Nexus 5 until the successor of the Nexus 6 comes out on the condition that it’s not going to be too big for a smartphone. I borrow the words of Gordon Kelly who wrote a review of the Nexus 6 for Forbes:

So size. Every year I think phones have become too big and every year I’m convinced by manufacturers that I should go bigger. Not this time, the threshold has been crossed. Motorola may have done a great job with the bezels, but the Nexus 6 is still too big.

This isn’t a height issue, it’s a width and depth issue. The Nexus 6 is much thicker and 0.5cm wider than the Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus (illustration below) and the combination is crucial: you simply can’t wrap your hand around the phone and reach the opposite side of the screen.

Seriously, large screens are good if one is looking for a tablet. Phones don’t need to be that large. It’s the same reason the iPhone stayed within the 5-inch territory for so long because usability studies have proven that anything larger would present issues for the average human being.

So whoever Google will partner with to build the next Nexus smartphone, I seriously hope that they consider this feedback from myself and many other human beings out there. Enough with the obsession of making phones larger.

Instead, make a BETTER Nexus smartphone. Better camera, dual-SIM support, better battery, more RAM or more powerful CPU, a sharper screen not, I repeat not a larger one, please!


Patiently waiting for the Nexus 5 Android 5.1 OTA update

Ever since the web exploded with news and posts about how great Android 5.1 is, which is the latest update of Lollipop, I’ve been itching to update my Nexus 5 device. I’ve been enjoying Lollipop so much this latest update would only make it better. So far. While I still check my phone to see if the 5.1 is already available via OTA, the urge to sideload it has been getting stronger and stronger. Truth be told, right before I decided to write this post, I was actually brushing up on how to manually update my Nexus 5 to Android 5.1.

So what stopped me? It’s this cautionary tale on Android Community:

For others who have gotten the update early, usually via flashing or sideloading the OTA, it was a bittersweet story. More bitter than sweet actually. Some users are reporting an inordinate amount of RAM being used up for no apparent reason. The Nexus 5 only has 2 GB of RAM and yet Android 5.1 uses up more than 1 GB, sometimes leaving as little as 150 MB left before it finally crashes the device due to lack of memory. Google is apparently aware of that issue and even announced that it has already been fixed. The bad news, that’s only internally and they don’t have yet a timeline of when it will be pushed out to the public.

So there, plans of side-loading the update on my Nexus 5 has been shelved. I’ll just wait for Google to push the update to my device via OTA. But the love of all things good, how long must I wait?!