A couple of days ago I got my invite to Google Music. This is Google’s web-based answer to Apple’s iTunes. Given that I have an Android device I have been waiting for this since it was announced several months ago.
I got around to dabbling with it today. So far it is pretty spartan and while the basics are solid some of the features I had expected to be there aren’t.
First off there’s no Linux support. Music is uploaded by a music manager which is available only for Windows or Mac. This could be mitigated by some in-browser uploading support. This is web-based after all. But no such option exists.
Secondly there’s no Ogg support. As one of those geeks who actually purchases CDs and rips them myself I prefer Ogg Vorbis as a patent free, royalty free format. Apple’s failing is that they have not, and probably never will, support Ogg. When I purchased my Droid I was ecstatic to see that it supported Ogg. So it is more than a little disappointing that the service which is supposed to feed music to my Droid doesn’t support all the formats the device itself supports.
On the other hand uploading is mostly painless. Point it at a directory and it will recursively upload all music files in that directories children. However I suspect that it will suffer from the same problem I have with other music management systems (iTunes & Doubletwist), not recognizing multiple formats of the same song. I’d love for these to recognize that “06 – Forsaken.mp3″, ”06 – Forsaken.ogg” & ”06 – Forsaken.flac” in “Within Temptation – The Silent Force” means they’re the same song and only use the one I prefer for that device. MP3 for my wife’s iPod, Ogg for my Android, FLAC for neither.
I also would like to see that Google Music would allow me to add RSS feeds for my regular podcasts.
As for the Android portion of the pairing I am unsure how well it works. Since I have already downloaded all of my music to my Droid via Doubletwist it recognizes that local music and lists it. There appears to be no distinction between local and remote copies at this time.
So far it is early and if the work on GMail and Google Reader are any indication they’ll continue to improve and add features as time goes by. If anything I can always get off my ass and provide the above as feedback.
Well, after a year of having my Droid I decided to purchase an app.
aCar by Armond Avanes is an excellent example of an app that is perfect for a phone. aCar tracks fuel & service expenses for multiple vehicles. I have been using it to track only the fuel expenses for my ST-1100 and BMW. What makes it perfect for a smart phone app is that it is so handy!
If you’re like me you always have your phone with you. Fill up, open up aCar, tap “Fill Up Rec.” and enter 3 things. Odometer reading, gallons purchases and total amount. From that it will calculate cost per gallon, MPG, cost per mile, time between fill-up. With multiple records it also calculates a running average. All the data can be visualized with tons of graphs or presented in great detail. It’ll even compare multiple vehicles.
For example I can see that my BMW averages 26MPG while my ST-1100 is a hair over 40MPG. I can also see that even though I put the high-grade stuff in my ST-1100 it only costs me about 7 cents per mile compared to the BMW’s 10 cents per mile on the low-grade stuff.
Easy-to-use, simple-to-understand and exceptionally handy on my phone. Well worth the few bucks it took to register.
My wife loves her Kindle. So much so that she’s giving it the heave-ho and getting a trophy-Kindle. In a fun twist we are going through role reversal on the tech hand-me-downs. Normally she gets the tech toys of which I have tired but this time it is she that is asking if I want dibs on her old Kindle 2.
Thus far I have gotten by with Kindle on other platforms. First by wrangling Kindle for PC to work under Linux on my Dell Mini. More recently it has been with the Kindle app for Android. So, strictly speaking, I really don’t need a Kindle. It would be nice.
On the other hand I haven’t given up on my plans for a Nook. I still order all my tree-killing books via B&N. So it naturally follows that I would prefer to obtain my electron-killing books via the same source. My wife, naturally, disagrees.
But in this internal debate I have been giving consideration to a third option. The Kindle 2 & Nook represent a lightweight device w/6″ screen upon which I could read books in electronic format. Both cost around $150-$170 for the Wifi only version. Both are locked in the format they can read. Meanwhile I have a device which can read both, right now. My Droid. Why not look for a 6″-7″ variation thereof? The first person to mention the iPad gets slapped. Seriously.
A few minutes of searching yielded two possible results. First up is the Gentouch, an Android 2.1 device with a 7″ screen for $150. Only problem is they are sold only at K-Mart and are currently sold out until late August. Then there is the Archos 7 based on Android 1.5 and coming in at $200. By the end of the year there are supposed to be several tablets available under the $200 price point, most running Android 2.1 or higher.
The more I think about it the more appealing it becomes. My main gripe about reading on my Mini is that it isn’t as portable and easy to handle as a book. Meanwhile my Droid, awesome as it is, is too small for long-term reading. My wife raves about the eInk display on her Kindle and daylight reading. I work nights and am an indoor geek. I rarely read out-of-doors, let alone during the day. So while I normally think specialized devices are better for the tasks for which they are designed I am finding it hard to want any eReader for $150 when I could spend the same on a Gentouch and get the functionality of 2 eReaders along with all of the other apps written for Android.
Given that the Gentouch is out-of-stock, and not without some problems detailed in different reviews, I think right now I might take up my wife’s offer of the use of her Kindle 2. Use it for a few months until a decent Android based tablet comes out.