To know me, is to know how much I love technology. I have been a sucker for electronics ever since I was a kid, loitering for hours in the stereo section Highland Appliance store on South Westnedge in Portage, MI, or in Shack Electronics in downtown Kalamazoo. I will skip over the part about taking apart televisions and trying to rebuild them. That didn’t work out so well. I discovered that I am a much better connoisseur than technician. As computers evolved, I fell in love with them, too. Again, my focus was equally, if not more, on the design, fit & finish, materials, and build quality, than what the device could actually do when you hit the power button. I loved Marantz and Denon receivers because they looked just as good as they performed. Aesthetics are important.
Perhaps I am saying all this to provide some context, or lay a back story, for the the changes I experience with my mobile phone in 2012.
I entered 2012 with the tank-like, and frequently glitchy, Motorola Droid X.
As I mentioned above, I am interested in technology, and even learning how things work. I am not, however, all that interested in getting my full geek on and learning programming code. Most Android phones are “rootable,” meaning that you can fiddle with the code and install various operating systems (ROMs). If you have the time and patience, you can create a highly customized device that suits your needs. As compelling as the end result may be, I am just not that dude. I feel like making a compelling user experience should fall on the hands of the manufacturer. My only “job” should be to learn about all of the various features, and take good care of the device. This is one area where I differ greatly with most Android enthusiasts.
After suffering through a number of problems with the Droid X, the device received a not-so-accidental beat down from a quartz countertop.
I thought that it might have been time to take a break from smartphones, so I thought about trying an old, but slim, LG flip phone that I had in my house.
That non-data experiment only lasted a couple of days.
I was not quite sure that I was going to do about a “new” phone, but knowing that I wanted access to email, at least, I decided to activate my wife’s old BlackBerry 8830.
I could only stand using that BlackBerry for an evening.
I jumped on Craigslist and found someone selling a very clean Droid Incredible for $90. Somehow, I was back where I started with smartphones. The Droid Incredible was my first, non-work smartphone.
Interestingly, after using the bulky Droid X for nearly 18 months, the Droid Incredible seems small. Considering that I don’t like stuff in my pockets, this is not a bad thing.
As much as I liked the small footprint (or pocket print — get your mind out of the gutter), I missed the larger 4.3″ screen of the Droid X. (The Droid Incredible’s screen is 3.7″) I went on Craigslist and eBay, and eventually came across someone selling a Droid Incredible 2.
Though it looks nearly identical to the original Incredible, the Droid Incredible 2 has a 4″ screen and a front-facing camera. This change was purely incremental, and I knew that the Incredible 2 would the last used device that I would pick up before deciding on what would be my next major smartphone upgrade.
This is where my quandary began. I have been using Android devices for three full years, and I was fully prepared to stay in the Android ecosystem. For as little as I am drawn to the nerdy, tinkering side of Android, I appreciate the many things that operating system offers. Even with out rooting, Android devices are highly customizable, allowing users to make devices uniquely their own. Contrary to what some people (iPhone users that have never touched an Android device) may say, customizing an Android device is not rocket science.
Even with three years invested on Android, I was always open to moving to another device. I was particularly interested in the release of the iPhone 5. There was speculation that the physical shape would change a bit, and Apple is one of the best when it comes to design of consumer electronics and computers. When the veil was finally lifted on the iPhone 5, I was underwhelmed.
Not really wowed by Apple, I turned my sights back to Android — with a slight side-eye on Windows Phone 8. Rumors has been flying around all summer about a new Nexus (Google’s designated flagship device). The release was expected in the fall, and sure enough the Nexus 4 was announced. It is made by LG (chortle). It has glass on the front and the back (sound familiar?). It lacked 4G/LTE. Screeeeeeeeeeeeeech!
To refresh a dying expression — Oh…hell to the nah!
Feeling let down by Google and the Nexus 4, I thought about getting a Samsung Galaxy SIII. My wife has one, and has been pretty happy. However, I read some rumors about a new phone by HTC that was headed to Verizon. I was to be called the Droid DNA. After quite a bit of hand-wringing, and talking to my friend Francis…
This phone is pretty amazing. It has a 5″ screen, with an insade 1080p resolution. Think of having an HD, 1080p flat-screen television in your pocket. The screen is amazing. Surprisingly, the Droid DNA is quite light for its size. It has a fast processor, 4G/LTE, a great camera, and is running the latest (well…sorta) version of Android. There was a lot of concern about the phone not having great battery life, but in two weeks, I never had a problem making it through an entire day on a charge. Note: It has inductive wireless charging capability built in, so if you have a Qi charging mat, all you have to do is set the phone down on the mat and boom, it’s charging. Pretty cool stuff.
Of course, if you remember the title of the post, you know that there is one more device to go. So you’re likely wondering what was wrong with the DNA. It is a simple as this — it was just too big (dimensions). Again, the phone is incredibly light and quite sleek. I just found that the dimensions of the phone didn’t work with the way that I normally carry my phone, and that is in my front pocket. I don’t like having anything bulky in my pockets, so I have a super thin wallet, and I want a phone that I don’t really feel. As much as I loved the Droid DNA, it just didn’t fit with my physical needs/requirements. Let me just add this…if you take or view a lot of pictures, watch videos or movies, or need to read easily on your smartphone, you really can’t do better than the Droid DNA. The only hitch is that you have to be comfortable with a tall phone. It’s quite thin and very light, but just know going in that it will take up your entire pocket.
Just as my two weeks exchange period was coming to an end, I walked into the Verizon store with the Droid DNA neatly repackaged. Was this my change to try another operating system? HTC also make a Windows Phone 8 device for Verizon. The operating system is a bit of a dark horse, but it looks interesting. Nope.
Lucky phone number seven is a device that I had no intention of buying just a few months prior.
You know, I was going to title this post “I finally gave in,” but that wouldn’t be accurate. I have been using Android devices for three full years and I don’t see the iPhone or iOS operating system as superior to the Android operating system and some Android devices. My thought of “giving in” was resisting the idea of picking up an iPhone because so many user are completely biased and incapable of objectivity. I didn’t, and still don’t, want to become “one of them!” Funnily enough, I had the same resistance before buying two Apple computers. My wife help me completely the complete Apple ring of fire by giving me an iPad for Christmas. Am I becoming happily encamped or naïvely enslaved? That remains to be seen. After nearly a month with the iPhone 5, here’s my experience.
The iPhone 5 is beautifully crafted. The design is not revolutionary, as Apple is prone to saying, but it is clean and industrial. I love minimalist design, so the iPhone 5 is right on the money for my taste. For years, I have been nauseated by the Apple mantra “It just works.” I actually think that notion is bullshit, because if you haven’t used an Apple computer or phone before, you won’t be able to pick it up and become a master. It takes time and practice. I think the only reason so many people know how to use iPhones and IPads is because every commercial you see for them is a tutorial. Android is criticized, and sometimes rightfully so, for having too many controls and options buried in menus. Since using the iPHone, coming from Android, I have been no less confused, initially, about how to perform certain functions. Add to that, I find that Apple’s on-screen buttons take up precious screen real estate, while Android devices save that space for the apps. It is really a matter of preference. I don’t think one is inherently better than the other. However, if you’re switching to the iPhone from an Android device, there is definitely a learning curve.
One thing that I absolutely love about the iPhone is how it works with just about everything else. Devices sync quite easily with the iPhone. Android devices didn’t have a problem syncing, necessarily, but it is clear that the bulk of third-party devices, including audio systems in cars, were designed to play nice with the iPhone. Here’s an example. When I had phones 1, 4, 5 & 6, I could stream music to my wife’s Bluetooth audio system in her car. When I synced the iPhone 5 to the car, all the track information shows up on the screen. This may seem minor, but I really appreciate these little things.
Aside from the difference in the number of apps available for iPhones versus Android devices, there are subtle differences in the apps on either operating system. The differences benefit iPhone. It is pretty clear that developers design apps for iPhones and iPads first, and then port them over to Android, if at all. Again, the differences are often minor aesthetics, but it’s enough to notice and alter one’s experience.
A few quibbles. I hope Apple changes about the operating system include a better notification panel. Android has this function nailed, and it keeps getting better. Apple is clearly the novice in this arena. If anything, it would be nice to have some quick toggles for sounds, wifi, and bluetooth. I also like that I could swipe the notification panel down in the lock screen on Android. It provides a quick way to check notifications without having to have the badges on the screen. Another thing that I hope gets improved in the next release of iOS is the sharing options. Currently, Apple has the ecosystem so locked down that you can’t share things on your phone (pictures, web pages, etc) with apps of your chosing. This is wide open on Android, and creates a much better sharing and productivity experience. For instance. if I’m looking at something on the browser on an Android device, I can long press on the URL and the option to share the link with apps pops up. From there, I have a laundry list of apps to send this link, including Springpad or Evernote. You cannot do that on the iPhone without copying the link, going to the other app and pasting. That’s not an example of “It just works!” to me. One thing about the packaging for the phone that just makes no sense to me are the white cords with a black device. I suppose it’s a brand recognition issue, but I don’t want a white charge cable and earphones with a black phone.
So, there you have it. My odyssey with smartphones in 2012. In spite of my reluctance to go all Apple, I’m in — for the time being. Google and Motorola are rumored to be working on a really nice Android device that will be released sometime this year. I’ll stick with the iPhone for my two-year contract, and hope that Apple improves iOS. If not, I will have no reservations to moving back to Android. For me, it’s more about usability than visibility.
Unless you just stepped out of a time machine, it’s pretty likely you aware that Apple officially lifted the veil on the iPhone 5 yesterday.
I may be coming down too hard on Apple, but throughout the announcement I had a very distinct feeling. Yawn! I was underwhelmed.
Perhaps part of the blame falls on my nerdiness. I read a lot of tech blogs, and iPhone 5 photos and specs were leaked left-and-right. When Apple revealed the iPhone 5 on stage yesterday in San Francisco, there were no surprises. It became clear, from the leaks, that Apple was going to stick with the iPhone 4/4S design and merely stretch it out to make room for a four inch screen.
I think the other part of my frustration with the iPhone 5, in my opinion, falls squarely on Apple. It’s clear to me that Apple opted for safe over daring with the design. I have long admired Jony Ives, and the beautiful industrial design that he’s brought to Apple. (Mind you, a lot of Apple’s designs seem to draw “inspiration” from Braun.) In fairness, I can’t say that I really blame Apple for how they treated the iPhone 5. As much as daring, out-there design has its place, Apple is still a business with strong customer base. Paraphrasing Ives, in a new video, he didn’t think that Apple should mess the design. Ives said that the iPhone 4 and 4S were so popular that he thought the best thing to do was improve upon a good thing, not upturn the Apple cart. There’s merit in that, and I thought about how certain designs become iconic, such as a Porsche 911. I just don’t think the iterations of the iPhone 4, over time, will prove iconic on that level. Check out this interesting piece on TechCrunch that addresses the issue of Apple not reinventing the wheel.
Of course, all of this could change when I get my hands on the iPhone 5. From the photos and hands-on videos I’ve seen, the device — particularly the black model — looks beautiful and well-crafted. I guess that I was just hoping/expecting Apple to take the slab smartphone to another level. I have been exhausted by all of the lawsuits between Apple and, seemingly, every manufacturer that makes Android devices. I was willing to put all of that to the side, for the moment, and bask in the glory of Apple’s design prowess. It’s worth adding that aside from revolutionary (Apple’s favorite superlative) hardware innovation, Apple would have created much more buzz if they overhauled it’s mobile operating system iOS. It’s looking rather long in the tooth, particularly when compared to updates to Android and the Windows Phone operating systems.
To be perfectly candid, I was hoping that the iPhone 5 would end months of hand-wringing about my next phone. I don’t often rely on sports analogies, but…I wanted Apple to knock it out of the park, but they merely hit a sacrifice fly to advance a runner.
I am not wed to one platform, and will more than willing to move from Android to iOS if the iPhone design proved to be compelling. Apple didn’t help as much as I had hoped. The recently announced Nokia Lumia 920 builds on a very interesting design. (I see a trend developing here.) In about a month, if rumors hold up, Google will announce that it has expanded its Nexus program (Google’s flagship Android device) to allow several manufacturers to introduce new Nexus devices this fall (usually in November). Here is a chart comparing the iPhone 5, Galaxy SIII, and the upcoming Lumia 920. My wife recently upgraded from a Motorola Droid X to the Samsung Galaxy SIII, and she seems to love it.
One thing that is rather interesting to me is seeing the devoted iPhone camp do their best to mask their disappointment. I think that a good amount Apple loyalists released heavy sighs yesterday. I checked out a number of Apple blogs, and the mood seems to be rather reserved. People are doing their best to put a positive spin on yesterday’s reveal. Like me, I suspect that a majority of people were hoping that the leaked photos were a slight of hand by Apple’s PR shop. What happened to Apple “doubling down” on security? Fail!
Of course, Android fans were doing back flips. (rolling my eyes) I wrote a comment on an Android site, imploring people to keep it classy and be a fan of tech.
I am a fan of technology…period. I use an Android device, but I also own and use Apple products. I kinda like the division of labor, if you will. With that, I refuse to allow myself to become so entrenched in one camp, or another, that I start to take things in this arena personally. I get appreciating your favorite brand or system. What I don’t get are people who take their preference (allegiance?) to a device or brand so far as to run anything else into the ditch.
Sure, I get the whole Apple vs. Android thing. You’d have be to blind not to. I question whether Apple was run by a megalomaniac, and everyone — even subsequent to his death — appears committed to that same bullshit “everyone is out to get us” paranoid path. Maybe this has cause Android camp to develop a pretty large chip on our collective shoulders, but two wrongs don’t make a right. Calling out Apple for it’s practices would be a lot more convincing if Android OEMs didn’t blatantly copy (Yeah…I know the reverse arguments, so please don’t recite them.) and fans of the OS and ecosystem didn’t mirror the same myopia that sadly shackles so many fans of Apple.
Objectivity is the key word for me. I want all tech to be cool and interesting. This means that I can applaud and acknowledge when Apple makes something compelling, be that the hardware or the software that runs the device. It means that love of great design is not exclusive to Android and the OEMs that produce Android devices. If that were the case, I’d have a lot of pent-up self-loathing for the shiggity products Motorola keeps pumping out. (Sorry Moto fans.) Interestingly, if all of the leaks and rumors about the iPhone 5 are true, I think there will be a rather tangible sigh release from people, even the most ardent fans of Apple, who were hoping for something more…ummm…intriguing. Merely stretching out a phone doesn’t equal innovative design. I’ve come to expect more from Jonny Ives.
Look…we all (Android, Apple, Windows fans) need to come up for air, and just following the mantra of “Do you.” Let people do their thing. Stop trying to beat someone/something down in order to elevate yourself or your “thing.” Perhaps, the most important thing, in my estimation, is to stop personalizing all of this stuff. It’s just not that deep. It really isn’t.
The whole Apple vs Android debate is too much like the Hatfields vs. McCoys for my taste. It’s ridiculous. There’s just too much vitriol over “stuff.”
Ok…enough belly-aching that the present under the tree was not exactly what I wanted. The iPhone 5 is a nice looking device. It’s just not a game-changer.
I still have a bad taste in my mouth because of the whole ordering and shipping experience. As expected, after the package bouncing around on UPS trucks for the better part of a week, the shipping box was pretty beat up.
Ok. I finally have the Nexus 7 in hand! Now, let me get on with sharing my first impressions.
Fortunately, the shipping box contained an inflated packing bubble, so the retail box for the Nexus 7 was not damaged.
I was forewarned that the Nexus 7 was packed pretty tight into the box, and unboxing could be tricky. The packaging is, indeed, snug, but I managed to get the box open without making too many deposits into my imaginary swear jar.
Many reviewers have stated that back of the Nexus 7 looks like a golf ball. I think these people must not play much golf. To me, it looks like perforated leather, like what you might see on a driving glove, or car seat upholstery.
Though I actually handled a Nexus 7 prior to receiving mine (thanks Francis!), I was surprised at how solid the tablet feels. In my head, I was concerned about the build quality of a $200 tablet. Asus did a really nice job.
The Nexus 7 is built to work with data in the cloud, namely Google Play and other Google services. The lack of internal memory is the biggest clue — just 8GB or 16GB. This reliance on cloud storage becomes even more obvious as you take a quick tour of the exterior of the tablet. There is a power button, volume rocker, headphone jack and a micro-USB port. That’s it.
My wife teases me about being a manual reader. Keeping true to form, I had already perused the Nexus 7 user guide before receiving the tablet — I had enough time (eye roll) — so after taking a tour of the exterior, I powered it up.
The screen is gorgeous! Frankly, I am getting sick of the Apple zombies that throw “But, is it a Retina display?” around. No. First of all, Retina display is Apple’s thing. Everything doesn’t have to be Apple. Secondly, and probably more importantly, I doubt that the average person can discern the difference in pixel density between the Nexus 7 and the new iPad. I can, but it’s not that big of a deal. The screen on the Nexus 7 has deep blacks, rich colors, and the text on the screen is pretty damned sharp.
If you’ve every used an Android device, you know that set up is pretty easy. You simply enter your primary Google or Google Apps email address and you’re off.
This initial setup took all of about two minutes. I did click through things a little too quickly, because I clicked “Ok” for the Nexus 7 to sync all the apps in my Google Play account. I didn’t want it to do that, but I simply uninstalled the apps that I didn’t want once they finished loading. Almost as soon as the Nexus 7 was setup, I received a notification than an update to the operating system was available. That was fast. I clicked “Ok” and let the update do its thing.
Overall, the Nexus 7 is very easy to operate. There is an adjustment, though, if you’re coming to the Jelly Bean version of Android from a device running on Gingerbread. A fair number of the gestures and controls are different, and take a little getting used to. The operative word is “little.” The Jelly Bean version of Android is very intuitive.
Press the power button and you’re presented with a simple image of a lock. Simply taping the lock screen presents you with two options — unlock the device or go to Google Now. I’ll discuss the latter in a moment.
Unlocking the device for the first time, the home screen is populated with an edge-to-edge Google Play store widget.
This widget adjusts as you add to, play, or read items in your Google Play library. It’s an attractive widget. The size of widget, like practically every other widget on the Nexus 7, can be adjusted. Irrespective of the size, I found the widget to be a bit too heavy for my taste. Removing the widget is easy. Simply long-press and drug it toward the top of the screen. Speaking widgets, adding a widget to one of the home screens is no longer performed by long-pressing on the screen. With Ice Cream Sandwich, and above, you have to tap the launcher button and go the widgets tab to select a widget. Long press the desired widget and and drag it to a page.
Sidebar: With the purchase of the Nexus 7, Google has thrown in several free magazines to sample, a free book, the last Transformer movie, and $25 credit in the Google Play store. Not bad.
The handling of notifications in Jelly Bean is quite different than what I’m accustomed to…and that’s a good thing. Gingerbread allowed you to delete individual items in the notifications bar. Ice Cream introduced the ability to swipe individual notifications. Jelly Bean takes the notification a step further with not only swiping, but also rich content. Now, instead of just seeing that I have two messages (email, text), I can swipe down with two fingers of the email notification and see a little bit about each email.
Another new feature that I like is the addition of magazines and TV shows to the Google Play store. Reading magazines on the Nexus 7 is a pretty smooth experience. You can flip through a magazine one page at a time, or you can tap the screen to pull up a slider at the bottom of the screen that lets you skip ahead to any page. You can zoom in on any page, but the traditional spread-to-zoom gesture doesn’t resize the text, though. To get a clear read of a specific article in the magazine, tap the screen and click “view text” at the top right of the screen. Google Play Magazine converts the article to a clean, readable article, that you can scroll through left-to-right.
One operational issue I’ve encountered with the Nexus 7 has to do with the physical design. The power button and the volume rocker are too close to each other. I find myself turning off the screen when I’m trying to turn up the volume. This is particularly annoying when watching a video because the video stops when the screen goes dark.
Depending on who you ask, Google Now is either described as a Apple Siri beater, or a shameless, inferior, knock off of Siri. I couldn’t care less about comparisons. I just want to know if the product performs as promised. Here is the video introducing Google Now.
In my experience, I found that Google Now is only consistent with a few things — showing the weather, showing driving estimates to-and-from work, and answering most queries accurately. Unfortunately, I have yet to see Google Now “learn” from my queries and add info cards, such as flight information and place suggestions, to my Google Now screen. I recently traveled to Atlanta. I searched my outbound flight more than once, but Google Now never showed me a card for that flight with a status update, on it’s own. I always had to search anew, and that didn’t always give me consistent results. Additionally, I had the flight on my calendar. The calendar notice showed up in Google Now as a small card, but it didn’t interpret that data from that appointment and create a card for the flight. I tried the same thing for my return flight from Atlanta, and experienced the same thing. That was disappointing. I’m also a little stumped why Google Now keeps showing me driving information to work on Saturday and Sunday. I’ve only had the Nexus 7 since Monday, but I haven’t traveled in that direction since Thursday. I don’t know how long it takes for Google Now to learn from my movement patterns, but so far it’s seriously lacking. Likewise, I have been searched for sports scores of some favorite teams every day, but Google Now has yet to automatically show me the schedule for these teams, nor the scores of their games. I’ve tried adjusted the settings, with no success. I’ll stay after it, but Google Now seems like a novelty that isn’t quite ready for prime time. Of course, I’m always prepared to account for user error, but I just don’t see it.
In just a week, my Nexus 7 has had two force closes and one complete device lock up, which required a soft reset to get it working again. Force closes have plagued Android devices, so I truly hope this is not a recurring issue with the Nexus 7.
After one week with the Nexus 7, here’s my honest opinion. The Nexus 7 is a solidly built tablet. The screen is bright and crisp. The Jelly Bean version of Android is a very good improvement from Gingerbread, and even smoother than the devices I’ve seen with Ice Cream sandwich. Though the few glitches I’ve experienced concern me, I don’t think the Nexus 7 is an inherently flawed device.
Here’s the rub for me. The 7″ size would seemingly appel to most people, because it’s more portable and easier to hold than a 10″ tablet. That just doesn’t hold up for me. Maybe my opinion will change after a few more weeks, but right now the Nexus 7 just feels too small. Perhaps it’s because I had been using a 13″ MacBook Pro most of the time. Shrinking the screen down six inches is pretty dramatic for most of the reading that I do online or in Feedly. Additionally, while the keyboard on the Nexus 7 is really nice, I’ve found that I cannot type as well as I do on a physical keyboard. What this means for me is that the Nexus 7 is truly a media consumption device, not something that can serve as a stand-in for a laptop. I’m not suggesting that Google is marketing the Nexus 7 as a laptop replacement — the push has been all about media consumption. Let’s be honest, though, more and more people use iPads and other tablets in lieu of laptops.
If you think a 10″ tablet is too large, but don’t want something dumbed down, the Nexus 7 is probably a great tablet for you. For $200, I am hard-pressed to name anything else on the market that can compete. There are rumors that Apple will likely launch an iPad mini this fall. I doubt that it will be in the same price point, though. I suspect it to run around $250 to start. If Apple integrates a 4G cell radio, the Nexus 7 may be in trouble. I don’t mind the absence of a cell radio. WiFi is enough, and works just fine for me.
I hate to sound like I’m luke warm about the Nexus 7, but I am left wondering after a week whether I really need this device. I guess, if nothing else, I have a nice small tablet that is good to have around the house as well as a lightweight device to add to my bag when traveling. I have been on the fence about e-books, but I have a couple loaded on the Nexus 7. I am going to give one a try to see how I like the reading experience. Something tells me that I will still prefer reading books printed on paper. We’ll see.
So, there you have it. If you have any questions about the Nexus 7, please ask in the comments. I am more than happy to answer, and compare the Nexus 7 to other tablets. (I’ve played around with just about all of them.)
Google’s Order-Fulfillment Cluster F*ck
As noted above, I placed my order on the Google Play store within 30 minutes of the announcement of the Nexus 7 at the Google I/O developer conference. A charge was authorized on my card. (It was only later that I discovered that that amount was never processed.) Fast forward several weeks later, and rumors started to surface that GameStop, Adorama, and Office Depot had received shipments of the tablets. According to reports on Friday, July 13th, retailers were specifically told not to sell or release of of the devices. Nevertheless, GameStop has been handing out Nexus 7s to anyone that pre-ordered, as well as a few that hadn’t. There were a number of people who were running around with their hair on Friday, July 13th. (I’m not superstitious.) My outrage was more tempered and focused than many I saw going apoplectic online. My ire was not directed at GameStop, or those who were able to get their Nexus 7 tablets at retail stores before those of us that ordered through the Google Play store. No, my annoyance is directed squarely at Google.Come on Google. What a shitty way to treat customers who followed your encouragement to order through the Play store!
This is the message that Google delivered on Twitter Friday, July 13th.
Locked and loaded, ready to play: we’ve started shipping +Nexus 7 pre-orders today! google.com/nexus/#/7
— Google Nexus (@googlenexus) July 13, 2012
Of course, yours truly, and probably a number of other people, are not on Twitter. Was it too much for Google to send an update email to all of the people that placed pre-orders through the Google Play store? Friday the 13th came to a close with absolutely no word about shipment from Google. Bummer!
Apparently, the Pony Express finally reached Google’s headquarters with the news of consumer outraged about the bungled release of the Nexus 7. The following message was posted on the Google Play store support page on Tuesday, July 17.
An update on Nexus 7 pre-order shipping status
We’ve had incredible demand for our new Nexus 7 tablet and are shipping them as quickly as possible. When your device ships you will receive a notification from Google Play with a shipping tracking number. We will have all orders placed through July 13 processed and shipped soon. Orders placed after July 13 will ship according to the quoted timeframe when you purchased and we will update you with a tracking number when we’ve shipped. Thanks for your patience.
Below are more specific details by country for devices ordered through July 13. If the below information is not true for you, and you ordered on or before July 13, please reach out to our support team so we can investigate.
In the US:
We’ve shipped all standalone Nexus 7 8GB orders (e.g.: those without a case, charger or Nexus Q). By the end of day on July 19 (PDT), we will have shipped all standalone Nexus 7 16GB orders placed through July 11 (PDT), and upgraded these orders to overnight shipping. We will process the remaining standalone Nexus 7 16GB orders by the end of next week with overnight shipping.
If you ordered your tablet with a case, charger or Nexus Q, your Nexus 7 will ship this week with overnight shipping, in some cases ahead of the rest of your order. But don’t worry, the rest of your order will be on its way soon.
We’ve shipped all Nexus 7 8GB orders. We are in the process of shipping Nexus 7 16GB orders and will ship them in 1–2 weeks.
In the UK:
All Nexus 7 8GB orders will ship by July 20 (BST). All Nexus 7 16GB orders placed through June 30 (BST), will ship by July 20 (BST). The remaining Nexus 7 16GB orders will ship next week.
All Nexus 7 8GB and Nexus 7 16GB orders will be fulfilled by the end of day on July 19 (AEST) and will arrive in 3–5 days.
My Odyssey With UPS
I was greeted Saturday morning, July 14, with an email from Google, sent at 3:33 am.
My excitement about receiving a shipping notification was tempered by the fact that there was not projected delivery date given on the UPS page. There was just a message that the label had been created, but UPS had not yet received the package for shipping. Interesting, as you can see from the email, the label was actually created on Monday, July 9. Why did it take six days to actually set the UPS shipment process in motion?
I got all excited on Tuesday, July 17, because my UPS shipping tracking page showed the I was due to get my Nexus 7 that day. Womp Womp! The UPS page never updated to show that the tablet was “out for delivery.” I called the UPS store where the Nexus 7 was being shipped, and the guy told me, rather matter-of-factly, that he’s pretty sure that they’re not getting any more deliveries for the day. He followed by saying that I should expect to see it the next day. Incredulous, I connected with a UPS rep on its website. The rep told me that the package was, indeed, out for delivery and it would arrive at the UPS store before it closed. I left work and decided to camp out in front of the store from about 6:10 on. Just as my hopes began to crumble, I see a UPS truck rumble up to the store. My heart started to race. The driver go out the truck (spying me looking like a puppy in the window waiting for mama to open the door) and walked into the UPS store. She came out with a number of packages to be shipped. She put the packages in the back of the truck, got settled in her seat, fired up the big brown box, and rolled out. My heart sunk. I got back online with a rep from UPS and was told that the package won’t be delivered until Wednesday, July 18. I slumped down in the driver’s seat and tried to muster up the energy to drive off — Nexus 7less. Sigh! What’s another day? It’s just around the corner. At that point, I was deflated and simply resigned to waiting to see what happened the next day.
Here is a little something that struck me as bazaar about the handling of my package by UPS. Here is the tracking page updated as of 7 am, Wednesday, July 18.
First of all, that “Out for Delivery” at 7:47 am on Tuesday, July 17, was not listed all day. That must have been added overnight Tuesday. Interestingly, if the package was, in fact, out for delivery on Tuesday, July 17, why didn’t it reach Rockville? Why is there a departure scan from the same location, Landover, at 7:59 pm? Did the package ride around in the truck all day and then come back? Why was it sent to Laurel, and the returned to Landover? In fairness, UPS would tell you that my shipment was 2nd Day Air, and Wednesday is still within the promised second-day delivery. I don’t dispute this timeline, but if the package was out for delivery on Tuesday, why wasn’t it delivered? What Brown Can Do For Me is answer some questions.
If you’re not familiar with the Washington, DC metropolitan area, Landover (A on the map) and Laurel (B on the map) are not that far from each other — about 15 miles. The UPS Store in Rockville, MD, where my packaged is to be shipped, is about the same distance from Landover than is Laurel. If nothing else, I will have a well-traveled Nexus 7.
Wednesday, June 18 was supposed to be “The Day.” I checked in around 11 am, and was told by the UPS website and by representatives on the phone that the package was, indeed, out for delivery. I checked with the UPS Store, and the person told me that they received their package drop off, and there was nothing for me. I called UPS to inquire, and somehow the story change. One person told me that the package was out for delivery. Another person said that it appears that the package is still sitting in Landover. Or was it. I spoke to someone at the UPS facility and Landover and she said, in no uncertain terms, that they didn’t know where the package is. WTF?!
Come again! UPS scans everything. How on the world could a package go missing??? Perhaps because I was still hopeful that I might receive my package on Wednesday, I was patient than I might normally be with conflicting answers and matter-of-fact customer service. Late Wednesday, I was transferred to someone in the “investigations unit” of UPS. A very pleasant woman walked through my dilemma, and she revealed that the package had, for the last two days, been riding around in a truck for delivery in DC. Because the package was supposed to be redirected, the driver — for two days — scanned the package and realized that it was not supposed to be delivered to my house. The driver would bring this package back to the Landover facility, which does not deliver to Rockville to be sent to the Laurel facility, which does deliver to Rockville. It appears the package was routed to Laurel for deliver to Rockville, but then the machines or a person scanned the original label or bar code and sent the package back to Landover. Argh! The UPS representative assured me that both the Landover and Laurel facilities were notified about my package. I was annoyed that another day was coming to a close with no delivery, but I felt (naively) hopeful about a Thursday delivery.
I was planning to go to New York on Thursday afternoon, and I really wanted to have the Nexus 7 with me for the trip. I must admit that I approached the day less hopeful, because the UPS tracking page showed the package was yet again in Landover. Honestly, I was starting to reach a point where I no longer cared. Nevertheless, I called UPS to see what story (read: excuse) they would yarn. What happened to “We Love Logistics®?” I was shuttled from person to person, demanding to speak to managers/supervisors. I became increasingly frustrated because I had to explain my situation to each person. I finally asked, rather angrily, “Don’t you all have/keep notes?” I never really got an answer. It sounds like a call log is kept, but possibly not much more. After finally blowing a gasket, I was connected to someone in UPS’s “tracer unit.” (Does that mean that the person in the “investigations unit” was not really investigating? I was told that there was no referral of my situation to a the investigations/tracer unit. Ugh!) I had to leave to get on a train to New York, but I was told that they would have the supervisor of the driver from the Landover facility call me. Before leaving for the train station, I submitted a second complaint, this time online, with Google. About 90 minutes later, while relaxing on the train to New York, someone called me, saying that she was from the UPS in DC. The young woman basically told me the same thing I’ve heard for the last three days. This young woman had no answers, but told me that they would call me back once they reached the driver. About 45 minutes later, I got another call saying that the package was, in fact, on the truck for delivery in DC. The driver will bring it back and it will be sent to Laurel for deliver to Rockville. I just about burst into flames in my seat.
What Happened to “We Love Logistics®?”
On Friday, July 20, I received several emails from UPS indicating that they initiated a delivery intercept on the package — meaning it should be routed to Laurel for deliver to Rockville. Isn’t that what I did with UPS’s own MyChoice service? (A service that costs $40 a year, by the way.) At 11:05 am, I received another email notification from UPS.
Just before noon that day, I received a call from a representative from UPS. She wanted to make sure that I knew that the package had been delivered. Nice touch, but a little too late. This tracking detail sheet almost serves as a storyboard for this story.
This week, I am going to demand that UPS refund the $40 I paid for the MyChoice service. I have also asked (read: demanded) that Google refund the amount that I paid for shipping! I have yet to receive any reply to the two complaints that I lodged with them.
This whole thing is the epitome of shitty customer service.
Google recently released Google Drive, the company’s version of a cloud storage service, similar to Dropbox, SkyDrive, SugarSync, and others.
In essence, Google Drive is an extension, or upgrade, of Google Docs. Here’s a short video from Google that explains what Google Drive is all about.
I’ve been using Google Docs for several years as my primary suite of tools for creating documents, spreadsheets, as well as a storage center for documents I receive from others. I also like the collaborative tools built into Google Docs, including the ability to work on projects in a Google+ Hangout. My wife uses Google Apps for her business. After getting acclimated to some of the differences, and shortcomings, of Google Docs, she and her team have been rolling for a couple of years without a hiccup. That is not to say that Google services, like Google Docs–>Drive, are for everyone. You really should consider your needs. If you frequently work with others using Microsoft Word, Google Docs may pose a formatting problem, because you’ll need to convert Word documents to Google Docs in order to edit them. The real issue, there, is the potential for losing the formatting of a document. Google Docs does a decent job of convey formatting, but stellar. The same applies for Excel and PowerPoint files. Fortunately, you can export documents in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and other formats. I think this is really more of an issue for business users, but personal users could also be affected. For more on this issue, see the article by Tony Bradley.
The first 5GBs are free with Google Drive. If you need additional storage, here are the monthly pricing tiers.
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