So Microsoft released a preview of Windows 8.1 on Wednesday, and of course my bleeding edge heart was quick to install it on two of my computers. I made the mistake of and ignored the warning against installing it on my work computer. I learned the hard way that Enterprise Edition requires the CD to upgrade (as I think it takes you to Professional Edition), and I ended up having to reinstall all of my software, but at least it was a good opportunity to have a clean slate. My regular edition of Windows 8 upgraded just fine, with everything in tact.
I don’t know how, but Microsoft managed to make the Start Screen worse. When they announced it was a button, I realized that they were not bringing the menu back, but it still seems like the interface was hacked together. at the last minute. When I set up my desktop, I like to put my taskbar on the top of the screen, yet there’s no way to configure the start menu to come in from anywhere but the bottom. Now I have start buttons in two corners of the screen, basically eliminating the quick-switch on the upper left hand corner. However, in re-sorting all of my programs, so that my desktop that was previously out of the left hand side, it’s all the way to the right. It just seems pretty half-baked. At least you can boot directly to the desktop now, and the people at StarDock have already released a beta version of Start8 that restores the functionality I’ve enjoyed. Start8 was still the best $5 I’ve ever spent. I’m looking forward to playing with 8.1 some more to see what else they’ve (hopefully) improved.
I took my first Instagram video this evening, and the interface was awesome. Pretty much the only feature that I’m missing from Vine is the ability to embed videos in other web pages (like my blog), but that should only be a matter of time. You can tell Vine is in a panic mode, even before this story about Vine shares plummeting since InstaVine showed up last week. They’re backed into a corner, and are swinging in every direction, pushing out 2 updates in the same week after not pushing out for three weeks they were released their Android version. I’m not sure what Vine can do to save themselves at this point, except for making their app experience more compelling than Instagram. Maybe they can be the first ones to introduce the novel concept of allowing people to mute videos on playback. I still believe that Vine’s demise is the result of a repressed desire to have a quality video app on Android.
Well that was quick, Adobe’s vaunted new Creative Cloud has already been pirated. I thought one of the benefits of their rental-only model was that it would curb piracy, but it doesn’t appear to be the case. I despise Creative Cloud, and it’s not because I support piracy or fear the future – but rather that it takes away Adobe’s incentive to improve their software, no longer compelling you to buy the next version. Subscription services like Creative Cloud (and Office 365 similarly) are to software what “Green” is to company revenues: it’s about making money while trying to appear forward-thinking. Software manufactures are enticed by the constant revenue streams these rental models provide. As they project revenue, they can count on your $50 per month regardless of whether they put out good releases that month or not. They can talk all they want about how this enables them to continue to push out constant updates, but in reality it’ll allow them to grow complacent and justify replacing innovative updates with incremental bolt-tightening updates. The worst part about is is that you can spend $600 over a year and should you decide to cancel your account, you have nothing to show for it. At least when you bought the software, you have an (albeit outdated) version that you own.
I’m going to try something new here, and do a little recap of tech news, developments and my take on various tech news stories for the week.
Normally I detest Facebook’s propensity to blatantly copy features from their competitors, but in the case of of InstaVine and in the interests of having a good video sharing product on Android: good on them! I may hold a lot of unfair hostility towards Vine, but I can’t get past the terrible first impression they made upon Android users. If you’re going to make users wait for months later than your iOS users, you better make a pretty good first impression – but between the very limited functionality (like not being able to search), the problems with capturing and playing video (audio out of synch) and the lack of worthwhile options (like muting your videos by default): all you did was give me all the more incentive to look forward to something else.
If Twitter seems unwilling or unable to quickly improve their app, I’m more than happy to spend time with an app that can. Instagram is giving me most of what I’m looking for, with a bigger user base. I’m more than happy to put my video eggs in that basket. That said, I hope this is a wake up call for Vine and Twitter, as great products come from competition.
When Google announced they were shuttering Reader, I remember freaking out as I drove home. In terms of getting my information: Reader was where I got the majority of my news. Given that I consume it on multiple computers, my phone and tablet, I was concerned about how I was going to be able to sync my feeds. I began my quest looking for the replacement, and am happy to be living in the Feedly space. They’ve really stepped up and have done a great job welcoming Google Reader refugees, and have been very open about their roadmap and where they want their product to go. They don’t deliver the exact same functionality of Reader (yet), but they are a great alternative that will soon get there. I previously thought I was going to be counting down the days until Reader was shutdown, but I’ve been so happy with Feedly that I’ve all but forgotten.
I don’t use Falcon Pro (I’m more of a Twicca man), but this news is distressing nonetheless. The way Twitter has turned the table against the developers – on whose backs they built their service on – irritates me to no end. While Twitter’s app has greatly improved, it still lacks a ton of features that their advanced users – who also have used Twitter the longest – count on every day. By relying on these apps early on, people like me learned how to use Twitter reading from oldest-to-newest, and have come to rely on Twicca for this continued experience. This back & forth between developers and their apps need to stop. Just be satisfied that 80% of your mobile users are using your app, you don’t want to piss off the other 20% with stupid stuff like this.
Well it took many months, but it looks like Vine finally came to Android. After downloading it and playing with it, I’m sorry to say I’m not too impressed. First and foremost, check out my crappy first attempt at making a Vine, showing off our nursery we’ve been working on.
I’d love to have embedded the Vine into my post, but alas they don’t offer that functionality. Update: Stupid me didn’t see the “Embed” link at the bottom:
Speaking of limited functionality, some of my first thoughts of this app include:
- Seriously, the videos just auto-play when the app loads?!?
- There’s no way to mute the volume??? (at this point I regretted starting the app while in the office)
- How does this Twitter app not use Twitter O-Auth?
- Why is this audio out of sync when I record?
What I don’t get is how a nearly 10 billion dollar company like Twitter can take so long to release an Android app, and when it does, it feels so lack-lustered? I can definitely appreciate the intricacies of app development, and I realize that you can’t simply throw more bodies to make an app better, but this seems incredibly half-baked. It’s a little ironic that Twitter, a company that is sacrificing (3rd party) app functionality in favor or their web interface, produces an app like Vine that has such a bare-bones web presence.
I understand that apps are a journey, but in terms of first impressions on the biggest mobile platform: this seems to have fallen pretty flat…