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The “Ghost Town” that is Google+ is coming!!

Article originally posted here

by Brian Booher of Modern Day Computers

Google-Plus-Logo

Let me get it out first…..I LOVE GOOGLE+!!!!

I think Google+ is the best social network on the planet!  I have met so many different people through Google+ in the 1.5 years I have been on it.  I find it so much more stimulating in being able to reach out to people of the world than I could with Facebook and Twitter.  I have more followers on Google+ than I do on Facebook and Twitter COMBINED!!  The introduction of the Google+ Hangouts is totally awesome as I can video chat with people from all over the world.  I see no reason why I should go to another social network, even though I am on Facebook and Twitter already even before joining Google+.

Hangouts and “Hangouts on Air” (HOA), are what makes Google+ better than Facebook as Facebook only allows for 1 to 1 conversations.  HOAs are really great as I can make recordings that will then be sent automatically to my Youtube account.  I don’t have to record it locally and spend the next 2 days uploading the video to Youtube with the way my Internet speed is.  Regular Hangouts are fun because I can get together with some friends and just chill out, talk about current events, discuss about tech, etc.  This is what blows Facebook out of the water, though it’s not much of a big bang as I would hope.

obamahangout1

Even the President of the United States, Barack Obama, has used Hangouts on Air to meet with people and get a message out.  Whether you like him or not, it’s great to see a leader of a country taking advantage of this technology.

There is a problem I do see with Google+.  That problem is the amount of exposure that Google is promoting it.  As compared to Facebook and Twitter, Google+ pales in comparison when it comes to advertising.  Google’s cash cow for revenue is web search, so I don’t think they take Google+ very seriously.  That is kind of sad as Facebook has been growing so much over the years that eventually they may overtake Google as the search king.  In about 10 years, I would not be surprised if the mindset of society changes so dramatically that when people want to do a search on the web, they will facebook it, instead of google for it.

It has only been a couple of weeks since this writing that Google launched Google+ sign-in capability for apps.  This is the ability to use your Google+ credentials for a login for new apps that allow it, much like what Facebook and Twitter have allowed to do for years.  it took Google almost 2 years to create this?  Get with the times Google!

I also believe that Google is dragging their heals when it comes to promoting Google+ because of Facebook’s “Like” button.  Sure Google+ has the “+1” button, but it is not as well as promoted by companies.  Facebook gets TONS of advertising reach with companies who make commercials and say stuff like “Follow us on Facebook” or “Like us on Facebook”.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a commercial where a company said “Follow us on Google+”.  Can anyone name a commercial that did something to promote Google+ in a commercial?  Anyone?   Beuller?  Beuller?

Google is also extremely hesitant to allow app developers to create third party apps with Google+ integration.  Take Tweetdeck for instance.  As of this writing, Tweetdeck is an app that allows you to post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time, though in a few months Twitter will kill off most of that ability since competition has become fierce.  I would love to have an app that would allow me to post to Google+, Facebook, and Twitter at the same time.  The closest thing I can do is using “Friends+me” which scans my Google+ profile for new public posts and sends them to my Facebook and Twitter accounts.  This is nice, but still a cumbersome process to setup.  If Google wants to be like Apple and control the whole user experience of Google+, that is a losing war.  They are in NO position to be that controlling, considering that Google+ is not the number 1 social network.  Facebook can and is doing just that because they are the number 1 social network.

Google+ on mobile is also a disaster.  When it comes to being able to do hangouts with a mobile device, I can understand that Google will favor Android devices to be able to enter Hangouts on Air, but to restrict iOS users from being able to do that is unacceptable.  Unless Apple’s strict requirements are in play, Google is seen by many iOS user as being uncaring towards them.  Google should explain why iOS users are not allowed in Hangouts on Air, regardless of who is at fault.   If it’s Apple’s fault, then that is understandable considering how much Apple thinks it knows best for its customers.  If it’s Google decision in regards to promoting Android, that is a disaster right there.  As I said before, Google+ is in no position to determine where it can work if it wants to become a world leader.

The Google+ mobile app is not very consistent either when it comes to Android and iOS.  I present two photos that I took of the same post I made on iOS on the left and Android on the right.

iOS                                                Android

Photo 2013-03-26 02.16.27 AM          Screenshot_2013-03-26-02-09-07

As you can see, they are very similar in most ways.  The big difference between the two are the 4 icons at the bottom.  The differences are that iOS has the “Link” in yellow while Android has “Mood” in yellow.  Why the hell would anyone on Android want to put their mood on a post?  Google actually had to do an update to give Android users the ability to link websites, though it can only be done when tapping on “Write”.  The iOS version had already been able to do that.  I also will grill Google on the length of time it took to make an iPad friendly version of the Google+ app.  Facebook was able to do that sooner with their app.

Wow!  I sure have written a lot now, so I guess I will wrap it up here.

As much bashing on Google+ as I have done, I do it because, as I said before, I love Google+.  I want to see it succeed and be able to become the king of social networks.  Facebook is great, but it’s not very social as for meeting people without first having to friend them.

If Google is serious about making Google+ into a great product, they need to get things rolling faster NOW!  Facebook is growing too fast to stand back and figure out a strategy that could last long term, but there are too many dynamics to be able to understand.  Google needs to promote the hell out of Google+.  Many of my friends that I know personally and have met in real life have no idea what Google+ is, they only know Facebook.

It was once said that Google+ was a “ghost town”.  At the time it was laughed at because of all the people using it, but now about a year later, things have changed and Google+ seems to be slipping away as Facebook gains more popularity.  If Google does not do much in promoting, I may just have to leave and go for greener pastures if I want to get better exposure and access.

Come on Google!  Wake up and smell the bacon!  Mmmm!  Yum!  Now I’m hungry.

Have fun and geek out!

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Apple iPod touch (5th Generation) review

by Brian Booher

After 2 years of selling with the 4th generation iPod touch, Apple has finally released the 5th generation (5th gen) iPod touch.  Compared to the older model, I can sum it up in one word…..WOW!!!  All right, that is my review.  Thank you for coming by.

Hmm? What?  You’re still here, reading this?  Wanting more about what the 5th gen iPod touch is like?  Oh I guess I could.  You sure you won’t just settle with “WOW”?  This is an Apple product, they say you’ll like it.

But since I must remain neutral with computer products, I will give my full report on the iPod touch (5th Generation).

The iPod touch is a giant leap in technology compared to the previous model.  The iPod touch is a lot closer to being the iPhone 5.  I could say that it is essentially an iPhone 5, but without the phone.

HARDWARE

This new iPod touch is a major improvement over the previous models.  While the width has been kept the same, the length has been extended by about an inch.

As you can see in the above photo, the 5th gen model has a 4 inch screen, therefore allowing the addition of a 5th row of icons and folders.

The new model does have a retina display, but since it has a bigger screen, there are more pixels added to the length.  The 4th generation model has a resolution of 960 x 640 pixels and the 5th gen model has a resolution of 1136 x 640.  Both has the same pixel density at 326 pixels/inch.

As compared to the back of both models, the 5th gen has moved away from the shiny stainless steel as the previous models have.  It is still a metal back, but this time it comes on different colors.  The colors come in black, silver, pink, green, and blue.  Apple does sell a red model that is sold exclusively at the Apple Stores or the website.

In the case of my model, I have the black version.  The black model is the only model that both sides are the same color.  The other models have the white face in the front and the different color on the back.

Camera

The 5th gen iPod touch comes with a huge update to the camera.  Whereas the previous model has a camera that took pictures at a resolution of less and 1MP (megapixel), the 5th gen model comes with a 5MP camera.  The added bonus is that it also has a flash.  There is a microphone in between the camera and flash so you can record videos with sound.

One other feature that has never been on any previous models of the iPod touch is the addition of a tab to attach a hand strap to.  While it is a nice thing to have, it is not a completely durable object.  It is a push button tab that extends up by about a millimeter, enough to attach the provided strap, which is color coordinated with the color of the iPod touch.

 

 

Lightning connector

Unless you have not heard, Apple has changed their proprietary connector for the newest models of iPod touch, iPhone 5, 4th gen iPad, and iPad mini.  It is called the “Lightning connector”.  It is smaller than the older dock connector and since it is reversible as for connecting the device.  Don’t expect thinking this connector will make things faster, as the other end is still USB.  Apple does sell an adapter to connect the old dock connector to the lightning port, but that is sold for $30.  Apple does sell a lightning to micro-USB connector, but that is primarily sold in Europe and coming to Australia.

If you live in the United States like I do, you don’t have the opportunity to get it at all since we have no laws that require devices to have universal connectors like the European Union has.

 

Internals

As for the internal specs of the 5th gen iPod touch, the only major feature is that it has the A5 processor, which can be found in the iPhone 4S.  Although it might not be as fast as the iPhone 5’s A6 processor, I doubt anyone would really care, especially when this is marketed towards kids.

As for storage, Apple only gives you two options: 32GB and 64GB.  The model I have is the 64GB version.

There is also a speaker at the bottom of the iPod touch as well as the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The iPod touch also comes with antennas for Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

 

SOFTWARE

iOS 6

The 5th gen iPod touch comes with iOS 6, Apple’s latest mobile operating system.  As compared to iOS 5, there really is not a major difference between the old and new as for functionality.

One new feature is “Passbook” that is supposed to use your iPod touch or iPhone 5 as a way to use for boarding passes on a flight or coupons or tickets for events, games, and movies.  It shows a barcode that is meant to be scanned and allows you to get on your flight or get into an event or get a discount on items.

Another new feature is Facebook integration.  Now you can take pictures and videos and share them on your Facebook page, without having to go to another app to upload.  Now if only Apple would add Google+ integration, but I think Hell would have to freeze over before that happens.

The other major app in iOS 6 is “Maps”.  Apple decided to move away from using Google Maps and make their own.  While the fly-over feature of 3D buildings and voice directions are nice, it’s not perfect to the point that if Steve Jobs was still alive today, he would probably fire everyone at Apple.

In case you didn’t hear, it turned into a disaster of sorts as many people were complaining of how the maps were not showing the correct buildings, streets, or directions.  It got to a point where CEO Tim Cook wrote an apology letter and said that they will work on improving it in a future update.  To give you a sense of how big of a problem this was, Scott Forstall, VP of iOS 6 and Maps would not sign his name to the apology letter, resulting in his position at Apple being terminated at the end of this year and broken up to other officers.

Siri

One of the cool features of the iPod touch is the ability to use Siri, which is Apple’s voice command app that can do almost anything.  As neat as it is, I have found Siri to not be as fun and knowledgeable as a similar app that I use on my Android phone.  Much like what Apple does with their products, Siri too is in the “walled garden”.  Siri makes sure to not offend anyone with the information provided.  This to me makes her kind of boring because then I can’t ask for crazy stuff, of which I will not tell in this review.  You get the picture.

Camera

The camera on the 5th gen iPod touch is a huge improvement over the previous model, as I stated earlier, but there is more improvements as for the software that runs the camera.

You can now take pictures using the High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature.  The idea is that you take a picture and the software will created an over exposed and under exposed photo of the shot and then meld both with the original to make a picture that is supposed to have more detail than with without HDR.

Panorama

A new feature with iOS 6 is the ability to take panoramic photos right from the camera.  Whereas there were apps that did that, Apple did it themselves.  All you do is select “Panorama” in the options and press start and just move the phone from left to right or right to left.  It uses the gyroscope to help with making a steady shot by showing an arrow that you need to keep centered as you move along.

The iPod touch also can record video in 1080p resolution, making it perfect to show on a 1080p HDTV.  If you have an Apple TV, you can stream your videos and photos to your TV to share with others.

Apps

Now that the iPod touch has better features, you can enjoy more of the apps that Apple has to offer in The App Store.  Although you won’t be able to use all of them, since some apps use features only found in the iPhone, your selection is much broader especially when it comes to using camera apps.

IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED

Even though the 5th gen iPod touch is great, it is not as “perfect” as compared to the more powerful iPhone 5.  There are some features that just aren’t as great, though they do not take away the fun.

With the camera shots I have taken, I have noticed that the pictures are grainy, especially in low light situations.  You cannot use the flash to take a panorama photo.  You cannot change the resolution of the camera when taking a shot.  The menu of the features is quite limited.

Though things will change in the future, there are some apps that are not compatible with iOS 6.  I have “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and it will not open.  Though the first Sonic game was updated to be compatible, as of November 12, 2012, the second one has not yet been updated.

The speaker is on the bottom, therefore when playing a game in landscape mode, your hand will probably cover the speaker when playing.

There is no hardware that involves vibrating like in the iPhone 5.  I think this would have been great to add since it would make games a lot more fun to play.  If this was a feature that Apple intentionally left out to push people to buy an iPhone, I think it’s dumb because there are a lot of kids whose parents would never want to get them an iPhone since it’s so expensive.  Maybe they will add that feature to the next version.  Hey, they put in a flash for the camera, so anything is possible.

Siri is fun to talk to, but she just doesn’t seem to be as great as what Apple advertised her to be.  I say “her” since it has a female-like voice.

The Bluetooth feature also is not as great as you cannot connect to any non-Apple devices, like an Android device.  God forbid that something like that would ever happen.  The world would probably come to an end, especially for Apple fan-people, if Android and iOS could communicate through something like Bluetooth.

iMessage is only usable when communicating with other people via SMS or MMS only IF they have an Apple device.  You cannot send an message to a phone number that is not connected to an iPhone.  You would have to use something like Facebook Messenger or Google+ Messenger to get with those people.

The lightning dock connector is a nice feature, but I just wish Apple would have gone to micro-USB.  But since they make royalties from their proprietary ports, there’s no way to convince them to make it easy for people.  The Lightning connector is the same size as a micro-USB connector, as I show below.

 

I just feel that people will get confused between the two.  Remember that iOS devices are marketed to people who are not computer geeks like I am, so doing this can bring confusion.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The 5th gen iPod touch is a great device.  It is a major improvement over the previous iPod  touch in so many ways.  Apple has recognized that a lot people don’t want to buy the iPhone and have an expensive phone plan, like me.

I will say that the 5th generation iPod touch is basically an iPhone 5, but without the phone part.  There are some things that I wish were made better, but I am not going to make a big deal about it.

The one thing that puzzles me is that this model is a huge jump as compared to previous model.  I can’t help but wonder if Apple made this version what it is because Steve Jobs was no longer around to tell what to put into the iPod touch.  I have a feeling that it was Steve Jobs who kept the iPod touch to such a low level compared to the iPhone in order to persuade people to make the big jump to the iPhone.  I can understand that it was a business decision to make money, but who would buy an iPhone for a 10-year old kid who can drop it easily or lose it easily?

I know there are a lot of other features that I didn’t talk about here, like the improved headphones, but I think that should be your opportunity to check it out yourself.  If you want to get a 5th gen iPod touch, I suggest going out to an Apple Store or any electronics store near you and check out the display model.  I could talk about everything about the iPod touch, but it’s nothing compared to experiencing it yourself.

If you want to skip driving to the store and just order it online, you can check out all the details at the Apple website.

Click here to go to the iPod touch page on Apple.com

Follow me on Twitter: @BrianBooher

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HAVE FUN AND GEEK OUT!!

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