Archive for the ‘Android’ category

Is Google Hypocritical for dropping H.264 but not Flash

January 12th, 2011

This blog post is a response to a post by John Gruber.

The argument is that Google are hypocritical for not dropping support for Flash at the same time as supporting WebM instead of H.264.

In my view, saying this is hypocritical is complete rubbish.

Whatever your opinion of Flash, it’s widely used on the net at the moment and has some features that cannot be replicated SENSIBLY by HTML5 at the moment. In time that will change, but that’s the reality of the situation at the moment.

Chief amongst those features is access to client side audio and video from webcams. Flash is the only sensible way of accessing these resources and streaming them beyond installing additional plugins (which may or may not be any better than Flash’s effort).

In WebM, Google has a patent free alternative to H.264 (the Apple-preferred codec which may at any time cease to be free for use on websites). The quality of WebM encoded video is arguably very slightly lower than H.264, but immaterial when discussing low bandwidth streaming in a browser. Google’s commitment to integrating open standards understandably sees them implementing WebM in Youtube and Chrome because it’s a sensible and viable alternative to H.264. Sure, right now there’s no hardware acceleration for decoding WebM, but that will come in time. Of the major browsers, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox and Chrome will all support WebM/VP8 encoded video in HTML5.

There is currently no credible alternative to Flash. If Google were to abandon Flash purely on the basis that it is propitiatory,  they would be cutting off their own nose to spite their face. In the same way that H.264 served them until there was a viable alternative (in WebM/VP8), Flash will continue to serve Chrome users until the shortcomings in HTML5 are addressed.

If, and only if, at that time, Google choose not to remove Flash in favour of the open standard, then they can justifiably be called hypocrites.

Hell Freezes over – Is Steve Jobs right?

October 25th, 2010

It’s been widely reported that Steve Jobs thinks that 7″ tablets from RIM and Samsung are “dead on arrival”. The 7″ screen isn’t big enough for a pleasant touch screen experience and in any case they’re too expensive.

I seldom find myself agreeing with Steve Jobs, but I think he might just have a point here.

Today by “IT Buyers Guide” from BT Business Direct dropped in to my pigeon hole and their quoting £509.79 plus VAT for the Samsung Galaxy Tab – that’s a penny short of £600 for a tablet PC. I don’t see how that is a sensible price for a tablet in anyone’s book.

I’m toying with getting a couple of tablets for my staff to use when they’re out and about in classrooms to cut the amount of walking back to the office needed to pick up new jobs – but at £510 each there’s no way I’ll be buying Galaxy Tabs.

Equally I won’t be buying iPads, lovely as the hardware is, because of Apple’s attitude towards app developers and the devices’ junkie-like iTunes habit.

Is 7 inches enough?

Quite frankly I don’t think so – especially if the screen in question is a 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio. Tablets look like they should be used in the portrait orientation, as you would a clipboard, yet with a 7″ screen that forces web content to be relatively small. Those extra 3″ coupled with a 4:3 aspect ratio makes a huge difference.

I guess time will tell if Samsung has found a form factor that people like using. Having used a Dell Streak briefly it felt like a large phone (which it essentially is) and I see the Galaxy Tab as a slightly enlarged version of that – although at 7″ you’re going to look alot like Dom Joly using it!

Personally I want a 10″ device, powered by Android or maybe even ChromeOS and I’m hoping that the muted Google Tablet will be very much along those lines.

Why I unsubscribed Audible

January 28th, 2010

Because they don’t support Android. Other than that I was a pretty happy customer.