Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pixel Security Update Fixes Sound Problem for Most Users

The last security update from February 2017 for the Gooogle Pixel fixed the distorted sound problem on high volume and more.

There were some users with that sound issue in different apps. One of these was especially annoying since it didn't help much to lower the volume. That was Google Maps. A great feature is to play the volume even louder on your phone, even when it set to medium level. That made sure you hear the turn-by-turn instructions while driving. The sound distortion on some Pixel devices were heavy and you had to turn this at least to normal. Now it's history.

With the latest update you can set it back on "louder" and having no distortion at all. On other apps the sound is now clear, too. Great!
But that's not all. The "BEEP" on the Google Assistant is back. Some users, including me, had the beep disappeared and there was only a slight vibration instead. This made the assistant almost useless for me, because the sense of it is imho to use it handsfree. So I need an accoustic confirmation and notice when to speak.
Glad that the security update sometimes fixes urgent bugs, too. That's exactly why I shove out so much money. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Fire Emblem for Android is now available in the Play Store

Here we go. The 2nd big title directly from Nintendo. Fire Emblem is out as of today as scheduled.
First impressions are very good overall. Very nice graphics, a high fps intro (on the Google Pixel XL), and epic music (not suitable for underway).

The game itself is a classic strategy RPG game with will get a bit skillful pretty fast after start playing.


You do need a stable internet connection. I got this message on the right screenshot several times during the game.

Very nice is the integration of Google Play Games as you can see in the left photo bottom right. That will keep motivation up for many players.
There are some options in the settings to automate some things, which is quite handy on a mobile device, but still give you the choice to play it a bit deeper in terms of controlling.

So the first impression is quite good, and I'm eager to see how this game evolves while playing in terms of fairness and balance the free vs. in-app purchases game play.

It's available now in some countries, including Europe. If you're pre-registered the game, you should get a notification very soon.

Play Store Link: Fire Emblem Heroes

Monday, January 30, 2017

Short review: Whitelines vs. Google Docs

Sometimes we need to jot down things by hand. It's effective and works everywhere. You can bring a pen and paper in almost everywhere. So some people thought about how to get the analog notebook page into the digital world.

Left: Whitelines App       |      Right: Google Docs

Whitelines is a great idea. It's a combination of an app and special paper to write on. Google Docs on the other hand just scan any documents. Which one is better for what purpose?

Whitelines
You need special paper. If you have this marked sheets the recognition is quick and hassle free. The problem with scanning a document is elegantly solved. You don't need to align the sheet perfectly. The app detects the angle and corrects it to the right size and perspective. The resolution is not as high as it could be, but usable for most tasks. You can share your documents quickly via mail or many other apps. On Android it's easy to share it as a picture or pdf (you can chose in the settings) and use it with whatever app you want.
The paper has fine white lines and marks instead of black lines. You can write on it just like normal. If you scan your document, they disappear completely. That is a great improvement because this black lines on scans are just horrible.
Great for people who keep their notes in books by purpose and want a link to the digital world for sharing and archiving. You can get Whitelines compatible paper in many forms, diaries, notebooks etc. in various sizes. It's gonna cost you.

Google Docs Scan
Chances are you have Google Drive installed on your Android phone. Congratulations, you have a document scanner already on your phone.
You don't need any special paper, you can share it everywhere or archiving it in Google Docs. The recognition is not as good as in Whiteline. But if you put the sheet on a background with a high contrast to the document, you're also having a fluent and quick experience. Something you can't do in Whitelines: You can choose if you want Black & White, Grey and Color Drawing or just the original photo. And the most important part, you can crop the part as you wish. E.g. you want only a part of a document. Just crop that area and you're good.
Like Whitelines the perspective is also corrected. So no downturn here. But there is one thing: The black lines. Yes you will have that black ugly lines in your scanned document unless you write on blank paper. That however is not always perfect. By the way, you could use Whitelines paper with Google Docs if you don#t want to see black lines. Or you can use the good old method of laying a sheet of lined paper under a sheet of blank paper. Normally you can see the lines shine through the paper for an orientation. After you're finished take away that lined or squared sheet and there you have your brilliant, non-lines writing aligned perfectly. Just print the sheet you want with a high contrast on your printer and use it in any size.
Oh and by the way: You can use Google Docs on the web to do a full OCR (optical character recognition) to get the document accessible as much as possible, like searching for a portion in the text.

Conclusion
If you take your notes by hand on purpose and want a link to the digital world and willing to buy a premium notebook with that special paper you need, you're better off Whitelines. It's quick and easy.
If you want to scan many different documents and notes on all kind of paper, Google Docs will keep you with its integrated Scanner feature in the Google Drive app. It's probably the best if you normally take notes on digital device, but having to archive or manage analog documents within your workflow.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Android-Update for the Pixel

First update coming in right now. Updating while blogging on the same device thanks to the new update feature on the Pixel.

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.