Monday, October 24, 2016

Pixel XL Camera: Even my dedicated digital camera gave up

You probably already read about the excellent camera in the Pixel/Pixel XL. I made some tests for myself and was quite impressed.
A just for fun try with a Samsung WB251F digital compact camera and the Pixel XL shockingly didn't turn out good for the dedicated Samsung camera. Sure a normal camera is still better, with the 18x zoom alone, but in terms of real colors and details I was baffled how a smartphone camera can be better.

Left the WB251F. Google Pixel XL on the right.
Mind the details. You can see the rough surface of the picture which it really is, while the compact camera makes a blurred and washed out photo. Also the coloring is much more real.
I made some more shots and short videos and let you decide if the camera can keep its promise.
You can see and download the files on Google Drive. To see the real quality you need to download them and play it on your device directly. The preview feature of Google Drive does not show the original quality.

Google Pixel and the full resolution backup

Yes, the full resolution backup is definitely a thing. Not only for those 4K enthusiasts, but for your photos as well.

So, didn't Google say "high quality" backups unlimited for free? Yes, they did. But HQ meant to be you can store photos up to 16 megapixels, but NOT in the original quality. They did some magical compressing on all photos regardless if higher than 16 megapixels or not, after uploading to Google Photos. While it was indeed high quality, if you mess around with that photo more, you quickly found the problem: Compression artifacts and color issues. And the most haunting thing for a backup was, it was NOT the original in the best possible quality. If you lose your offline file (you do backups on your computer, right? RIGHT?), you lose your original file and therefore quality. Normally HQ is good enough.

With the Pixel and Pixel XL you have unlimited space for your photos in original, unaltered quality. I double checked and compared the file transferred form my Pixel to the computer and the uploaded backup file from Google Photos via downloads. It is exactly the same image and file size, byte for byte.

This unlimited, unaltered original backup is tied to photos that are uploaded from the Pixel phones. Even if you have such a phone, photos uploaded from other devices or your computer will count towards your storage space or being compressed to "high quality" format like before.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Got a Pixel/Pixel XL? Don't throw away your old cables

With a new device there is always the question what accessories can be used along with that. Because problems with USB C lately doesn't exactly makes you confident to use any cable other than the ones which came with the device.

But before you throw away your old MicroUSB cables (which can be expensive if you bought good quality ones), there might be something you can do about.
The Choetech MicroUSB -> USB C adapter is the inexpensive and working solution for the Google Pixel / Pixel XL to reuse your old MicroUSB cables.

It is important that you check what cable your device needs. For the Pixel/Pixel XL,  Lumia 950, Lumia 950 XL, Nokia N1, Lenovo Zuk Z1, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, HTC 10, LG G5 & Pixel C and many other USB Type C devices, this is the right one.
The 56k Ohm resistor makes it a safe experience in terms of charging. Since there are rarely powerbanks with USB C connector, this is very handy in many ways.

In terms of data transfer it makes up to 480mbit/sec.
So if you're unsure about if it can harm your precious device, you can take a look at this. I already tested it with the Pixel XL on a normal charger (1.4 A and 2.4 A).
There are 2 adapters in the package, to recycle 2 old cables for your new device.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

128GB is a Good Choice for the Pixel

If you plan to shoot 4K video with your Google Pixel or Pixel XL, you definitely want to go with the 128GB version. Here is why.

1 Minute 4K Video with 30fps takes about 375MB. Jupp, 1 minute!
That means with a 32GB phone, you have about 23GB left for usage, you can only store about 1 hour of 4K video. No music, no photos, no additional installed apps, no VR apps, nothing.
23GB*1024/375= 62.805 min.

And why you might think 1 hour is long, well than think about if you edit a video on your device. It can take up to double in space.
The cloud storage doesn't help you at all. All you take needs to be on the phone first, there is no "direct storing" in the cloud. That would, away from the technically possible aspect, eat up your data on your contract in no time. You have a 1 GB plan? So that would be less than 3 minutes video.

The 128GB version instead, has about 5 hours of storage for 4k video. That means if you shoot 1 hour, you have enough room to edit the video, and having some other data or apps on your phone.
112GB*1024/375= 305.835 min.

Even though at home it will back up to the cloud, unlimited in original quality in full resolution (a.k.a. as backup :) ), you'll need some space for a day trip or your vacation. Since there is no sdcard, you have to jump through loops to make it through. 5 hours might be great for 1 day, but 1 week? While you can transfer video from your device to an USB stick via the OTG adapter (will test it when the device is here), you can imagine that with only 1 hour storage, you can't go far.

So do yourself a favor, get the 128GB version if you ever intend to use it for video recording or excessive photography sessions.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Allo is Awesome! Don't Trust The Haters

Allo is here! And it's great.
Assistant, Ink, Stickers all made very well. Easy to setup. Download, and you're good to go. You can tie in your Google account to store your messages securely and get full use of the assistant.

And here's the thing: The tech press don't get it, because this chat app was not made for them. Period. They install this thing, uninstall and cry about messages lost. How about tie to you Google account, no? Yes it magically works just like this.
But I have the feeling some Android sites want to ignore features or want to do it wrong just to bitch about Allo.

Even people like +Koushik Dutta starting to post utter bullshit about Allo. Mainly because, yupp, it's not the target audience.
Here is my comment in a Google+ post from him:
The Assistant is something new on the table. And it can be big.
Outside the chat app it doesn't help you much. This assistant acts in the conversation and for all in the conversation. That was demonstrated. Sadly again with restaurants (why always food? Geez). But think about the possibilities if you have smarty pants right in the conversation when you need it.
So it's a big point. And Google made clear it's THE feature of Allo. You know Google make mistakes by not telling people in time what it's all about clearly. Same with the new Google+ redesign. Same with the Pixel phones. Now people start bitching "Never Pixel. I want stock Android Nexus device"...
But one thing is clear, Allo will be a major step forward in messaging. If it succeeds (whatever that means) is on another page. Especially when influential websites bad mouthing this thing for weeks. You know what, sometimes I wished Google would have the same "Sheeple" as Apple. Then Allo would be the greatest thing on the planet, revolutionary and a game changer. Then at last it would get a fair chance. With all this well known people crying about the lack of a fucking web interface, which the vast majority of chat users will never ever looking for, it's doubtful.Maybe we're in luck and those people never read those articles anyway. Oh wait... they hear it in CNN how bad bad bad it is...
"People live by their phones..." Sundar Pichai said. Well he didn't thought about the tech journalists and developers. They live by their desktops. Maybe Google made it for the vast majority, not for YOU dear devs and tech guys. Maybe they understood, that many people choose messengers because of other reasons. Sometimes for the stickers and emojis. Yupp. Last time I tried to convince an important contact (intelligent, nice beautiful woman which works in a software company) to use Hangouts, I showed her the many technical advantages of Hangouts. She wasn't impressed. We came to the stickers, and she installed it before I could finish my sentence.
And Allo has great stickers...
And this drawing on pictures... umm doodling.
Ah another feature that Allo has over WhatsApp, or did they add this feature?
Yeah sorry, I'm not keeping behind about popular posters. Unfortunately he is not alone. What some "Android-sites" are posting is a shame for them and they either have not try it or they simply lying. Personal statements are cool. But should be marked as such. Like this posting.

Yes my personal thing with Allo is: I like it, I'm using it, Hangouts is history for me. But the haters gonna hate I'll guess. Or how I put it in another comment in an official Google Play posting:
That's totally fine. If it's not for you then it's okay. Don't use it. Hangouts is still here.
But Hangouts failed miserably for mainstream users.
And one reason is the way it works on setup. People are used to get tied in on the phone number. WhatsApp made a huge huge success out of that. And to that date does not support Desktop or Tablets directly. Did that stop it from being the NO.1 messaging app in the world with 55.6% of all users using it.
Because desktop is not relevant for the mass market. "People live by their phones" Sundar Pichai said at the Google I/O 2016. And that counts more and more.
I use Hangouts on my phone only, despite sitting most week in front a computer. I have it with me everywhere and it feels nice having it separated from my desktop works.
But really, if you want to use your computer to chat, you're not the target audience of Allo.
What I don't get is why Hangouts users are going so mad about Allo. Why? Just leave it alone and don't ruin it for other people.
Assistant? Ink? Simple install? NO need to add people. They are just there. But that all seems irrelevant. I only hope that mainstream adopts Allo a bit better than Hangouts users do.
Yes I WAS a hangouts user since yesterday. Now the question is will I use Allo tomorrow or WhatsApp/Facebook Messenger because I must. Forward forever, backward never.
But Hangouts is still here and nobody gets forced to use Allo.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Workaround for using external storage easily with Termux

Since the internal memory is so valuable on most Android phones, I wanted to use external storage directly. That should be no problem with Termux, the awesome terminal for Android.
But the inconsistent naming of sdcards in Android can always be a problem.

So, there is a directory "~/storage/external".  It points to "/storage/sdcard1/Android/data/com.termux/files"

This doesn't exists on my device (Sony Xperia Z3 tablet compact), and probably not on your device, too. It's the name of the sdcard in my case (5XD3-4FF1)... So for me "/storage/
You can find it with "ls /storage". There should be the sdcard besides other devices. Normally you can easily find it from there.
You can read most files from your sdcard there. But no write access. In Android >=Jelly Bean the write access is pretty much a mess and restricted. But you can write in Termux' own files directory. 

Be brave and (at your own risk) go to "~/storage/". With "ls" you should now see a list like that:

Run these commands:
# cd ~/storage/
# rm external
# ln /storage/5XD3-4FF1/Android/data/com.termux/files external -s

Please replace 5XD3-4FF1 with the name of your sdcard.
Now you can store things easily by accessing "~/storage/external/" from Termux.

Have fun.