Also testing the recent Google+ embed post option
Todd Ogasawara, Jay Stone, and Email Reyes discuss some of their favorite mobile games in MobileViews Podcast 64. They start off with the recently released Plants vs. Zombies 2. This long awaited game was released using a freemium model. It moves on to Candy Crush, Angry Birds Star Wars, and the surprisingly expensive but apparently satisfying retro games brought from the PC and console gaming world to the iPad.
Plants vs. Zombies is one of my favorite games. And, fans of the game have literally been waiting years for a sequel. Well, it is finally here for iOS devices. And, it’s free (freemium).
A quick run through the first level shows a number of interesting additions to both plants and zombies (mummies on the first level). It makes for a more challenging but still playable game. A number of people have commented and complained about the numerous and somewhat expensive (when added all together) paid add-ons ranging from $1.99 to $7.99 per add-on. I don’t know yet if add-ons are necessary once you get to higher levels. But, the game is a lot of fun without dealing with add-ons in the early stage.
I could not find PvZ2 in Google’s Android Play Store. So, you need to be an iOS device user to enjoy this long awaited game for now.
Todd Ogasawara and Jay Stone discuss and debate whether Apple’s best days are behind or ahead of it. What do you think?
Google Search’s new ability to use natural language to search through your personal photos is a neat bit of programming and pattern recognition. But, like any new feature, it may need a bit more tweaking.
You can see the result of a search for “my photos of dogs” resulted in photos of our pet rabbit! FYI: Searching for “my photos of rabbits” resulted in no search results.
You can learn more about this new feature in Google’s Inside Search blog:
Google added subscription streaming to its cloud music player. Everyone compares it to mindshare leader Spotify. But, it is much closer to Microsoft’s Zune Market (now named Xbox Music). Like Microsoft’s offering you can buy music and, optionally, pay for the ability to stream from a large music collection. There is no free ad-supported option like Spotify.
Just as Microsoft focuses its music service to its own platforms, Google Play All Access only supports Android in the mobile world. Its web-based interface works across desktop platforms as well as Windows RT, however. The lack of an iOS app is a big limitation for me. It would be nice to be able to stream music to an iPhone or iPad. And, the web interface for the desktop needs a bit of work in its navigation interface.
If, however, you have an Android device, update the Play Music app to be able to stream from the All Access service. Google provides a free 30-day trial. And, if you start the trial and opt to pay for the service before June 30, 2013, the monthly recurring fee will be $7.99 instead of the regular $9.99. There is no indication how long this reduced price will be in effect.
The Android Play Music app provides a sparse but usable interface. Its Explore option will show you recommended, featured, and new music lists. You can also explore by music genres. I didn’t find this feature particularly useful. And, it seemed especially weak in the world music category. But, it might just be a learning curve issue. One thing to pay attention to is the apps settings. I recommend limiting it to WiFi-only (see screenshot) until you learn more about how the app operates. I found, for example, that it downloaded over 250MB of data while testing it. One factor is the “Add to Library” downloads, for example, an entire album. Just remember that a “library” is different from a “playlist.”
My initial opinion is that Spotify’s Windows software (I haven’t tried the Mac OS X version) is easier to than Google Music’s web interface. Spotify’s UI makes it easier to search for music, discover related music, create playlists, and, in general, simply play music.
In a post-June 30 world where both Spotify and Google Play All Access will cost $9.99 per month, I think Spotify’s support for iOS devices and better desktop interface wins. Oh, and one more thing… Google Play All Access only lets you share music on Google+. If your friends are on Facebook (along with hundreds of millions of other people), that is just too bad. Google’s current social strategy feels very 1990s AOL walled garden-like to me.
I started using the free DataWiz from Princeton’s Edge Lab to learn how apps on my Nexus 4 use wireless broadband data. I quickly found two badly behaving apps (in my opinion).
The first was Amazon’s AppStore. It downloaded 9MB of something over 3G/4G. I don’t know what this somewhat was since I did not download any apps from Amazon. And, it had not notified me of any app updates. I found a setting to force it download apps larger than 1MB only when connected to WiFi.
The other misbehaving app is Google’s Current – its magazine reading app that I never use. It managed to download 2.4MB even though I never used the app that day. And, unfortunately, like other Google apps, it cannot be uninstalled. Updates to the can be removed but not the app itself. The solution for this app was to set sync to manual. It should never sync since I never use the app.
If you are wondering what on your phone is using up your 3G/4G data, you might want to take a look at the free DataWiz app.
Happy to say I passed two Fitbit milestones in the past couple of days.
1. 5000 miles
2. 11,000,000 steps
I stopped posting regularly on Google+ on October 3, 2012. However, recently, I started posting near daily to a photo series I call Ordinary Things. Here’s why:
I bought a Nexus 4 phone to replace an HTC HD7 (Windows Phone 7) earlier this year. However, it was rarely used to take photos because I use an iPhone 5 for that function. The Ordinary Things photo series is a way to force myself to use the Nexus 4 to take photos and to learn more about both it and the Snapseed photo app (now owned by Google) – Most of the photos have some processing using Snapseed. So, it seemed like posting these photos to Google+ would make it an all-Google effort. You can find me on Google+ at:
[Audio length – 48:43]
In MobileViews Podcast 62 Todd Ogasawara and Jay Stone discuss the relationship software and hardware being so good that consumers do not feel the need to upgrade or update to the latest version. This, of course, affects growth, revenue, and the bottom line for tech companies.