Santa was good to me this last Christmas. Not only did I get a Asus Vivo Tab RT but I also got an HTC 8X. I am currently replacing my Galaxy Nexus with the 8X and have been living in the device for a little under a month now.
HTC has done a pretty good job with the hardware. The phone feels not only light but also sturdy — something I have found lacking in many of their other products and my Galaxy Nexus. The screen is certainly not “retina” but is more than adequate. The speakers are again more than adequate.
With good hardware the discussion turns to the device’s software. To start, I like Windows Phone 8 as an operating system — despite its less than impressive name. As a developer, I even like the API (more on that another day) but as a user who knows something about technology, I can’t approve of the app selection or of the quality of the majority of the apps that I’ve tried. To be fair to Microsoft, there is nothing wrong with their software and a lot of the issues I am seeing are the fault of Windows Phone’s third party developer community or, perhaps more accurately, lack thereof.
Since I’ve been using the 8X as my day to day phone, I’ve been able to do most of what I did with my Galaxy Nexus but unfortunately the workflow has not been ideal. The biggest issue is that I have a large dependency on Google Apps, including Gmail, and Windows Phone 8 is not nearly as integrated with Google’s services as Android; to be far that’s to be expected, but the fact that my email has to manually sync every twenty minutes is less than ideal and I feel a bit out of touch with the Windows Phone. Unlike the lack of third party apps, these Google issues are unlikely to be fixed by time due to the fierce competition between Google and Microsoft; yes, I could just switch off of Google Apps and onto Office 365 but that seems like a lot to ask for the sake of a smartphone.
Overall, I like the device and if I weren’t so invested in the Google Apps ecosystem for my work the transition would be easier. Questions? Comments? Find me on Twitter and Google+. This post was brought to you by Code Journal and Fingertip Tech, INC.
Coder Radio listeners will know that I recently got a new tablet to add to my growing collection of devices: Asus’ Vivo Tab RT. Android fans will take a look at this and be reminded of the Transformer Prime and for good reason — the Vivo Tab and Prime share some common components, most notably the case and they are both designed to be used with their (depending on your retailer) bundled keyboard dock. Overall, my experience has been pretty good.
The Good: Like its Android cousin the Vivo RT holds a charge for a little over a day under normal usage, so power management isn’t something you are going to need to worry about much. The keyboard dock is phenomenal and I find myself replying to fast e-mails, coding small scripts, taking notes, and editing blog posts on the Vivo all of the time. In almost every case, it has become the device I grab to do some quick typing. The app selection is weak — there is simply no debating that point. However, the Windows RT ecosystem is still new and there are some standout apps on the platform: Tweetro+ and Notepad RT have become two of my most commonly used RT apps. On the games side there is, as on iOS and Android, a lot of junk, but the good games are simply incredible. The killer feature for game developers targeting the Vivo and Windows RT as a whole? Xbox Live achievements. Rocket Riot 3D is a great example of one such game and has fast become a favorite of mine.
The Bad: Despite the hours I have put into Rocket Riot and a few other games, the Vivo is in many ways a work device at its heart. Reading any sort of longform content is awkward due to the width of the device. Additionally, though the screen is adequate, it does leave something to be desired for long form reading when compared to the “retina” iPad. The app ecosystem, though it has its gem, is weak and is likely to stay that way for a while. The trend seems to be that developers who are interested in the platform are just re-releasing titles from other platforms (iOS mostly). I did run into one hardware issue during my usage of the device; if I detach the keyboard while apps are in the foreground the device seems to kernel panic (for lack of a more accurate term) and I have to manually restart it via the power button. Finally, Office works well but feels a bit awkward as does the entire desktop side of the device. I find myself wishing that the Office team had done a scaled down port to “Modern UI” (the UI formerly known as “Metro”) and kept the user experience pure.
Overall, Asus has done an admirable job and most of the issues I’ve experienced are with Windows RT and caused by how new the platform is not by any defect in the device. If you are interested in a Windows RT tablet, I recommend you look at this one before blindly purchasing a Surface. Questions? Comments? Find me on Twitter and Google+. This post was brought to you by Code Journal and Fingertip Tech, INC.
If you listen to Coder Radio, then you know that I like Windows 8 “metro” apps and that I am also a frequent Twitter user. Naturally, I wanted to find a Windows 8 Twitter app and recently I discovered Tweetro. I took a look at the website and like many users was overjoyed by the elegant design and attention to detail I saw. However, I failed to purchase the app immediately and now cannot.
Tweetro was a huge success and reached Twitter’s 100k token limit in an almost unbelievably short period of time. Unfortunately, Twitter has decided that it is no longer a messaging service and would rather be a media outlet for “brands” and is enforcing some rather developer unfriendly API policies. Basically, once an app reaches that 100k token limit, the app developer is cut off from the service and needs to “work with” Twitter. Tweetro contacted Twitter and got a response including the following:
…It does not appear that your service addresses an area that our current or future products do not already serve. As such, it does not qualify for an exemption.
For those of you who don’t speak the corporate dialect of political correctness this translates into: “sorry, you’re stuck.”
I’ve been hammering this point pretty hard for the last month or so on Coder Radio, but there is no way to overstate it: it is incredibly risky to develop an app on a third parties service and you should think twice before you do so. That’s not to say that you should never build a product on a third party’s API; Code Journal afterall is written using Github’s API.