Monday, 21 October 2013

Chrome is still a good choice for me - but will I stay with Android?

That's nice. I've just discovered that, using Chrome, I can now insert photos when composing a post on my tablet, which runs Android. That's significant and very welcome, because the default browsers on my Sony tablet and my Samsung phone, both Android-fired, wouldn't allow anything but text - enhancing posts with photos was a feature only available when using Windows on the PC at home.

Now I can do proper posts when on holiday, either (1) direct from the tablet using wi-fi, or (2) by publishing them over the 3G mobile network provided by Vodafone. Assuming the local signal is strong enough for a data connection: that might be a very optimistic assumption for the out-of-the-way places I tend to go to! But in principle, at least, expect an illustrated write-up of my adventures as they happen, and not a report some time afterwards when it may all have become a bit 'last month' and somewhat ho-hum.

I know that Chrome is a bit plain and simplistic, but it does the job, and I haven't experienced much in the way of glitches, nor found that it was impossible to accomplish something that I badly wanted to do. Once or twice, but not lately, Chrome published post-comments of mine in duplicate - some problem it had with Wordpress. And some of its standard features, things I don't want, are non-removable, or non-modifiable. Given Google's slow rate of development for its apps, that won't change soon. But it isn't a deal-breaker, and if really thwarted, I can always fall back on the default browser, or indeed F-Secure's own mobile browser, which is installed on both my tablet and my phone.

I like Chrome's 'clean' look, and its tabbed interface works very well, as good as Firefox's used to. I make extensive use of bookmarking for web sites or particular web pages, and Chrome handles that well too, at any rate once you discover where to find the bookmark manager. As ever, it's a question of familiarisation. Once you know your way around, and how to do things, it all becomes straightforward and easy.

Naturally Google want to hook you in with Chrome and all the rest of their apps. I continue to like Gmail very much, but I don't care for everything in their stable, and have for instance stayed clear of Google+.

They want Android to become the dominant OS. I think they are succeeding, so far as mobile devices are concerned. One can't help feeling that Apple has now lost its crown, and will become Number Two henceforth. And that the only other system with a chance of doing really well, Windows, arrived in touchscreen form far too late, and will forever trail the Top Two.

The perception of the buying public matters: the best products will be launched where demand is most intense. Manufacturers' ads on TV, and authoritative reviews on influential websites such as TechRadar, can of course affect public perception by suggesting what is a cool lifestyle choice, but it really comes down to bog-standard cost, usability and reliabilty. Just like buying a car. For some time there has been a perception that Apple make perfectly designed devices but take too much profit, and that Android devices are better value. Personally, I am impressed every time I see an Apple device doing its stuff. They always work smoothly and well. But the best of the Android crowd, and that probably means Samsung and HTC, with Sony and LG not far behind, offer products that in a world without Apple would be considered beyond reproach.

Where is this going? Well, in August 2014 my current two-year phone contract with Vodafone expires, and I'll be going back to buying a phone, supported by just a SIM-only contract. And in 2015 I may very well want to replace my current tablet (not because it's wearing out, but because by then I'll need a lot more internal memory). Do embrace Apple, or stay with Android? The wise spending of hundreds of pounds is at stake here.

There is no chance that I will recede from owning at least two mobile devices. They must be compatible with each other. They must also be compatible with what is on my desk at home. By 2015, at the latest, I shall want to upgrade my Dell PC to the latest Windows OS. But I might decide to jump horses and go the whole hog with Apple - home desktop (I mean a big laptop), tablet and mobile phone all at once. You can take it for granted that any such change will be based on cool and critical specification comparisons, and much other careful research, and not merely by handling the lovely goods in a high-pressure Apple shop - which is a sure-fire way of being seduced into a big purchasing mistake. All the time I shall be thinking how this product or that will improve my ability to process and display photos, and write a good blog post, whether at home or away. Nothing else is so important.

Just now I feel that I'll most likely stay with an Android/Windows combo, but who knows what will be on offer within a year or two?

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