Google Reader’s Shutdown

There was a time not too long ago (like when the shutdown was announced), that this would have had me screaming foul play, but things are different now.

I have been set free.

Only in this post-Google Reader world can I see what an albatross round my neck it actually was. Checking it every day felt like work. If I was offline for a day or two, I couldn’t face attempting to sort through the mess that would await me. Yes, I subscribed to too many high-volume feeds, but even managing the feeds I subscribed to was daunting. It’s part of the reason why I still have accounts in a number of Google services, I feel tied to the legacy I have within them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much in the ‘pro-RSS’ camp, and to that end, I couldn’t be happier with my switch to Feed Wrangler.

I won’t be doing a full review, there are already comprehensive reviews out there, you should read them. It’s actually a casual pleasure to browse my RSS feeds now, innovations like ‘Smart Streams’ are the kinds of forward steps that we would never have taken (the royal ‘we’) without the fall of the all-conquering Google Reader.

Like Marco, I am very optimistic about the future. I can’t wait to see what our community comes up with in reponse to the next beloved service that Google decides to sunset.

The Nvidia Shield is how much?

Apparently the Nvidia Shield is going to retail for $349, which is roughly £229. I have to assume that they are struggling to make these things cheaply, as that is a very steep price. For context, you can get a Playstation Vita with WiFi and 3G for £198, and a Nintendo 3DS XL for £149. That is quite a premium over two handheld gaming machines, from two established players in the scene.

Now, that’s all well and good, if the Shield is offering an experience above and beyond these other handheld gaming systems. Though, if my experience is anything to go by, it certainly doesn’t meet that criteria at the moment.

I had a chance to get some hands-on time with the Nvidia Shield at PAX East. Safe to say, neither my friend, nor I, were at all impressed. In fact, both of our devices crashed and rebooted while we were playing games, loading us back in to the default Android home screen. The touchscreen was laggy, the menu was unintuitive, the controls weren’t exactly comfortable, and it certainly wasn’t the lightest. All this, and I haven’t even mentioned the games. Consoles/devices can have all the bells and whistles they want, but, in reality, they live and die by their game catalogue. In comparison to Nintendo and Playstation, the Shield does not have the back catalogue or invested developers to compete. It’s obvious where the smart money is regarding first- and third-party hits. I just cannot think of anything other than an incredibly niche market for this.

Yes, it can stream from your PC, and yadda, yadda. But those are side benefits of owning the device. Realistically, no-one is going to buy a ticket merely for the side attractions. The main purpose of the Shield, must also be it’s main selling point. However, in my first-hand experience, it’s main function just isn’t good enough.

Hangouts App

I’ve been pretty much exclusively using the new Hangouts app since it’s release. Let me stress the fact that I do like it. Ubiquitous messaging really is a base requirement in the post-iMessage world.

The Good:

  • It’s clean.
  • It’s very fast.

The Bad:

  • It’s buggy. (The number in the unread badge count seems to be decided arbitrarily, for example.)
  • It’s a move away from another open standard, namely XMPP. An unfortunate trend following their desertion of RSS.

As Stephen Hackett notes, it’s not that Google are ‘evil’, it’s just that they try so hard to present themselves as ‘The Good Guys’. They are the same as everyone else, but they pretend not to be. Gruber used the perfect word in the aforelinked article, it "rankles".

One thing that really bothers me, is that they haven’t implemented the x-callback-url ‘back button takes you back to the app you came from’ in Chrome for iOS. You’d think that at least they would make their own apps fully compatible with their other apps.

Can we finally accept that BlackBerry are grasping at straws?

As reported by The Verge, BlackBerry Messenger will soon be available on competing platforms, including iOS. This really does smack of BlackBerry throwing everything at the wall, and praying that something, anything, sticks. In the consumer space, the only service I’ve seen keeping people loyal to their BlackBerrys is BBM. In my mind, the only likely result of this move, will be to ease the transition for some people from a BlackBerry, to an iPhone or Android device.

An interesting aside from Rene Ritchie at iMore, everyone else now makes apps for their competitors platforms, apart from Apple.

No Home for Facebook

I was going to comment on the Facebook Home….fiasco(?), but this piece by Marco Arment really summed up my feelings on the home screen replacement/app launcher/thingy. It just looks like a demo. It’s a showcar, not something actually useful in every day life.

Lukas Mathis hits the nail on the head with his quote here, and John Gruber lays the problem out in simple terms. Not even it’s own designers want to use it.