Trading in my iPhone 4S for a Google Nexus 4

Ever since I fell in love with the Google Nexus 7, I've been thinking about trading in an iPhone for an Android phone.  As I mentioned before, I think innovation in the mobile Operating System space is largely coming from Google (and even Microsoft) right now, and in comparison Apple's iOS is starting to feel stale.  The release of Android 4.1 Jellybean this summer was a turning point for Android, but there wasn't a phone worth buying yet until Google released the Nexus 4, a flagship phone in the same lineage of Nexus 7 that would always feature the latest version of Android.  As lucky would have it, I won a new Nexus 4 at a Google event, so this week I decided to take the plunge. 

I popped the sim card out of my iPhone and transitioned full time to an Android phone.

I'm going to spend a lot more time with the phone before I give an official review, but until then it's worth sharing some my initial reactions for anyone about to make a similar phone change cold turkey.  The phone itself is beautiful.  It's slim and light, but with a big beautiful screen.  Multi-tasking and cross-app integration is pretty fantastic (as It's always been on Android).  Voice recognition and other typing alternatives like native swype-style keyboards make information input a breeze.  The operating system is much more informative and actionable-- from better app notifications, to better data about your power usage.  And I have really high hopes for Google Now.

But there's also a lot of surprises.  Though the phone is very fast, the touch response feels a bit slower, akin to how Windows trackpads often feel compared to Apple.  And even though the operating system itself is fantastic, many applications aren't matching it in quality.  It seems many companies delay in rolling out their best features to Android, so applications I love on iPhone are only subpar on Android (for example, Evernote Hello doesn't have business card scanning functionality yet, and Nike+ doesn't have friend leaderboards or Path integration yet-- both popular features on their iOS equivalent).  And some great apps are still missing all together.

Also, Android's old selling point-- the most powerful versions of Google own applications-- isn't even true anymore.  The latest versions of Google Maps, Gmail and Google+ on iPhone are pretty killer, even better, I think, than what's on Android right now.  I think this is because on iPhone Google has a the highly evolved standard gestures of iOS, a refined standard that doesn't yet exist on Android (things like pull to refresh, left-swype menus and click-to-top headers).

So it will be an interesting ride.  I can already see a ton of pluses and minuses of both iOS and its standard hardware build (the weight and size is definitively easier to hold, but harder to read on) and the operating system (a more open OS leads to better integration but less polished functions).  I'm sure I'll learn a lot more as I spend an extended period with the phone.  And then come July, when the next iPhone comes out, I'll be ready to make an informed decision on what platform I'm going to commit to my next two years.  In the mean time, let me know if you have any Android suggestions or questions.


Our Vineviewer Vine Search Engine Gets Some Love

We launched our labor of love VineViewer (a Vine video search engine) to the public one week ago now.  It's been an exciting seven days, so I wanted to provide an update on our web app.

Since roll-out, our development partner Firefall Pro has been killing it with feature updates and stability optimizations.  Now each Vine video has its own "card" which includes a link to the video post's original Vine post page as well as the shared Twitter post page.  You can search for multiple keywords at once, and search results now have unlimited scrolling.  Videos fail much less often, but when they do, we serve a nice error graphic instead of a 404 page.  There's a new "about" message that appears when you roll over the corner plus (+) graphic.  And the design is a lot cleaner overall.

We've gotten some pretty awesome coverage in the press:

And most of all, people seem to really enjoy using it.  Over 2,600 people have used the app so far, to search for everything from video game clips to peeks at the winter storm Nemo.  And the average visit duration is climbing to now over 3 minutes per visit (amazing, considering Vines are 6 seconds).

I hope VineViewer grows as a part of the Vine community.  We'll be thinking about ways to make it more useful.  In the meantime, continue to share it, and let us know what you think.


We Built a Vine Search Engine

Last week Twitter launched a new video product called Vine, which enables users to quickly & easily record and share 6 second videos. Vine's big innovation is its way of enabling people to stitch a video together without having to use any editing tools, the result of which is a drastically lowered barrier to making an interesting looping clip. I'm loving Vine because vine videos feel really raw and intimate, characteristics that are unfortunately sparse these days now that just about every photo is cropped to a square, filtered and bordered.

But as much fun as it is to watch Vine videos, there's unfortunately no way to easily search for vines of topics of interest.  Enter VineViewer:
VineViewer is a fun utility developed (rapidly) by SS+K and Firefall Pro designed to allow people to search the growing library of vines based on their tags. We were really excited by the launch of Vine. Like everyone else in our business, we immediately began thinking of different ways we might bring vines in on our client work. In doing so, we lamented that there was no simple way to search for vines of a specific topic, like love for Valentines Day. 
VineCreeper is in in constant beta, and may evolve as we come up with more ideas for Vine. We hope people enjoy, and use at their own discretion.
We concepted and created VineViewer in just a couple of days, to fill a need and interest we had.  It's certainly rough around the edges, and there are some more features we'd like to implement (like a widescreen view and endless scrolling), but we wanted to launch it immediately for all Vine lovers to enjoy.  Learning about new social tools is all about using and prototyping, not polish.

So search for cats, puppies, babies and NYC to your hearts content.  Let me know what you think, and share it with your friends.