Category: Tech Reviews

Kindle Fire HD in Canada – First Impressions

Today the Kindle Fire launched in multiple countries including Canada, and one was delivered to my door for your reviewing pleasure.

My initial impression is that, although the device is nice, for Canadians it is still very, very limited.  It is a lovely device, but the Amazon services which distinguish it from the other tablets out there are sadly missing.

There is still no support for Amazon’s music or movie store or Amazon Instant Video for Canada.  iTunes movies will not play on the Kindle Fire due to DRM.  Through the movies for Flixter though you can view any movies you have on your UV account.  They do not have the cool X-Ray for Movies feature that gives you details of the actors in a movie when you hit pause.

For the last few years, iTunes music has been sold without DRM so can easily be copied to the music folder and will be available in the music section of the Kindle Fire.

For me, personally, I was very disappointed that the Audible integration is missing for Canadians.  The whole Audiobooks section is missing from the top menu, and although Whispersync for Voice continues to work, immersion reading is not available.  Audible advised me that right now, this feature is for US-only. It hopes to expand to Canada in the future, but no ETA yet. 

As with the Nexus 7, the Kindle is not recognised by Adobe Digital Editions on the Mac, making transferring epub books to the device very difficult.  I have not yet tried the Overdrive app on the Kindle to try to borrow library books.

On the positive side, the device feels solid in my hands, I found it responsive and I did like the ease of shopping on it.  I’m not certain I could consider it a full tablet – lack of multitasking, decent organizational system – it’s definitely more of a multimedia Kindle, but what it does it does very well.

At this point, I’m not certain if I’ll keep it – the lack of Audible integration is a real blow to me, but I will work with it over the next week or so to see what I think.

 

My Experience with Tep Wireless

When I visited Scotland recently to visit my family I realised I had to make arrangements for internet access while I was there. I am a self-confessed internet addict, and my parents are not online.

I considered a few options: I could use my Canadian cellphone provider and pay for the roaming charges; I could rent a cellphone in the UK or I could use a service like Tep and rent a wifi device, allowing me to get online with my iPad as well. Two major providers in this area appear to be X.Com Global and Tep Wireless In the end I decided to check out Tep Wireless. I went online and verified that coverage was provided in the area of Scotland I was visiting – it was. For around $60 Canadian I arranged for one week’s unlimited wireless internet access.

Reviews of Tep Global seemed to be either glowing or shockingly bad, with the device not being delivered a significant cause of concern. I was rather relieved when my mother rang me to say that the device had been delivered on schedule a day or two before my arrival.

When I arrived on the Sunday evening I powered up the device only to have it display SMS only. Hmmm. After many, many, many attempts I finally got through to Tep support. Some basic troubleshooting was done, but I was still unable to get online. The Tep agent advised that a replacement device would be sent to me.

By the Wednesday I had not received any device or any further contact from Tep. Once again I attempted to contact them and it took from 9.30 am to 5pm to have my call actually answered. I was informed that there was no record of any new device being shipped to me. By this time, of course, it was already half way through my trip and any device sent now would barely arrive in time for me to use before I returned it. When I inquired about a full refund, I was informed that it was not Tep’s policy to issue refunds in such circumstances, only a credit note. Despite my insistence that this was unacceptable to me, he refused to budge.

However, he did some more troubleshooting and he was able to get me online. This lasted three hours until the device once again dropped the connection and showed SMS only.

At this point, I simply returned the device and demanded a full refund as well as repayment of the $1200 I had run up in roaming charges. I am still waiting for any response or refund from Tep.

So if you are considering Tep, perhaps you will be lucky and experience no issues at all. However, please consider this review and all other reviews out there before making a booking.

My Experience with Tep Wireless

When I visited Scotland recently to visit my family I realised I had to make arrangements for internet access while I was there. I am a self-confessed internet addict, and my parents are not online. I considered a few options: I could use my Canadian cellphone provider and pay for the roaming charges; I could rent a cellphone in the UK or I could use a service like Tep and rent a wifi device, allowing me to get online with my iPad as well. Two major providers in this area appear to be X.Com Global and Tep Wireless In the end I decided to check out Tep Wireless. I went online and verified that coverage was provided in the area of Scotland I was visiting – it was. For around $60 Canadian I arranged for one week’s unlimited wireless internet access.

Reviews of Tep Global seemed to be either glowing or shockingly bad, with the device not being delivered a significant cause of concern. I was rather relieved when my mother rang me to say that the device had been delivered on schedule a day or two before my arrival.

When I arrived on the Sunday evening I powered up the device only to have it display SMS only. Hmmm. After many, many, many attempts I finally got through to Tep support. Some basic troubleshooting was done, but I was still unable to get online. The Tep agent advised that a replacement device would be sent to me.

By the Wednesday I had not received any device or any further contact from Tep. Once again I attempted to contact them and it took from 9.30 am to 5pm to have my call actually answered. I was informed that there was no record of any new device being shipped to me. By this time, of course, it was already half way through my trip and any device sent now would barely arrive in time for me to use before I returned it. When I inquired about a full refund, I was informed that it was not Tep’s policy to issue refunds in such circumstances, only a credit note. Despite my insistence that this was unacceptable to me, he refused to budge.

However, he did some more troubleshooting and he was able to get me online. This lasted three hours until the device once again dropped the connection and showed SMS only.

At this point, I simply returned the device and demanded a full refund as well as repayment of the $1200 I had run up in roaming charges. I am still waiting for any response or refund from Tep.

So if you are considering Tep, perhaps you will be lucky and experience no issues at all. However, please consider this review and all other reviews out there before making a booking.

Badly done, Amazon, badly done indeed!

WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS LONG RANT. PROCEED AT OWN RISK

For those of you in Canada who purchase Kindle books from amazon.com, you may have noticed that the site has been pushing you to switch your account to the newly opened Canadian Kindle store at amazon.ca. It appears in the last few days, the vast majority of Kindle books are no longer available from amazon.com for customers with a registered Canadian address.

I have been a loyal Kindle customer now for several years and now I have suddenly found myself cut off from services on which I rely, some of which, for me, raise Amazon above the competition.

In Jeff Bezos’ presentation in September 2012 to launch the new Kindles, one of the new innovations promoted was Whispersync for Voice with Audible books. I was very excited about this, and since its launch, I have made extensive use of this service. Naturally, I am very disappointed that it appears I will no longer have access to it for future purchases. It is infuriating that Canadian users had access to this service and now have had it removed. For me this is a significant deterioration in the service I have come to expect from Amazon. It is my sincere hope that Amazon will find some way to reinstate this service for Canadian users.

The Amazon site says it’s “great news” yet tells you the following:

Periodicals and Newsstand Currently active subscriptions will be canceled upon transferring to another country. A pro-rated refund will be applied if there are any remaining issues you have already paid for. Once subscriptions are canceled, you will not be able to access past issues. Periodical subscription availability varies by market.

Music Amazon Cloud Player is not supported in your new country. You will no longer be able to access your Cloud Player music library from your device after you have transferred your account to your new country. However, you may continue to access your music locally on your device by downloading it from Cloud Player prior to transferring your account to your new country.

Video Videos purchased in your current country will no longer be available after transferring your account.

“Great news!” Really? Loss of access to purchased content is “great news?”

Over the three years that I have had my Kindle, and happily purchased from amazon.com/kindle, I have used my Wishlist as a way of keeping track of books which interest me. It has now grown to 6 pages and is now rendered useless by the forced swap to amazon.ca for Kindle purchases. Although this may seem a minor complaint from Amazon’s point of view, from the individual user’s point of view, users who are Amazon’s bread and butter, it is a cause of significant frustration. It would have been a nice touch to have offered a way to export this list to amazon.ca.

When I contacted Kindle support to ask about this, I received a very unreassuring reply:

I’m sorry, at this time, ability to buy books with Whispersync for Voice to sync with Audible is not available on Canadian Kindle store. We’re regularly working on improvements to your Kindle experience. I’ve let the Kindle team know you’re interested in this feature.

Also an options to import wish list from one site to another is not available. I apologize for the inconvenience you experienced.

The business of our international customers is very important to us, and I have also passed your message along to the appropriate people in our company for their consideration.

We’ll consider your feedback as we plan further improvements. Customer feedback like yours is always important to us. I’ll be sure to pass your message along to the appropriate department as we continue to improve the Kindle experience for our customers.

I really hope that Amazon will be able to restore this service. I understand that this is a very personal gripe, and will not have any major impact on your average Canadian Kindle user. However, taken in line with Amazon’s policy of restricting many services to its US customers, this has left a foul taste in my mouth. I love my Whispersync for Voice and am very unhappy to have lost yet another service.

In a similar vein, Amazon recently announced that it has extended its Prime service to Canadian users. Although for many, the free shipping may justify the $79 per year price tag, even though they are paying the same as our American cousins, Canadians do not have access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (one free Kindle book a month) and free instant streaming of movies and TV shows.

Right now I feel really let down by Amazon and I’m beginning to see fewer and fewer reasons to stick with it and not move to Kobo.

Badly done, Amazon, badly done indeed!

WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS LONG RANT. PROCEED AT OWN RISK

For those of you in Canada who purchase Kindle books from amazon.com, you may have noticed that the site has been pushing you to switch your account to the newly opened Canadian Kindle store at amazon.ca. It appears in the last few days, the vast majority of Kindle books are no longer available from amazon.com for customers with a registered Canadian address.

I have been a loyal Kindle customer now for several years and now I have suddenly found myself cut off from services on which I rely, some of which, for me, raise Amazon above the competition.

In Jeff Bezos’ presentation in September 2012 to launch the new Kindles, one of the new innovations promoted was Whispersync for Voice with Audible books. I was very excited about this, and since its launch, I have made extensive use of this service. Naturally, I am very disappointed that it appears I will no longer have access to it for future purchases. It is infuriating that Canadian users had access to this service and now have had it removed. For me this is a significant deterioration in the service I have come to expect from Amazon. It is my sincere hope that Amazon will find some way to reinstate this service for Canadian users.

The Amazon site says it’s “great news” yet tells you the following:

Periodicals and Newsstand
Currently active subscriptions will be canceled upon transferring to another country. A pro-rated refund will be applied if there are any remaining issues you have already paid for. Once subscriptions are canceled, you will not be able to access past issues. Periodical subscription availability varies by market.

Music
Amazon Cloud Player is not supported in your new country. You will no longer be able to access your Cloud Player music library from your device after you have transferred your account to your new country. However, you may continue to access your music locally on your device by downloading it from Cloud Player prior to transferring your account to your new country.

Video
Videos purchased in your current country will no longer be available after transferring your account.

“Great news!” Really? Loss of access to purchased content is “great news?”

Over the three years that I have had my Kindle, and happily purchased from amazon.com/kindle, I have used my Wishlist as a way of keeping track of books which interest me. It has now grown to 6 pages and is now rendered useless by the forced swap to amazon.ca for Kindle purchases. Although this may seem a minor complaint from Amazon’s point of view, from the individual user’s point of view, users who are Amazon’s bread and butter, it is a cause of significant frustration. It would have been a nice touch to have offered a way to export this list to amazon.ca.

When I contacted Kindle support to ask about this, I received a very unreassuring reply:

I’m sorry, at this time, ability to buy books with Whispersync for Voice to sync with Audible is not available on Canadian Kindle store. We’re regularly working on improvements to your Kindle experience. I’ve let the Kindle team know you’re interested in this feature.

Also an options to import wish list from one site to another is not available. I apologize for the inconvenience you experienced.

The business of our international customers is very important to us, and I have also passed your message along to the appropriate people in our company for their consideration.

We’ll consider your feedback as we plan further improvements. Customer feedback like yours is always important to us. I’ll be sure to pass your message along to the appropriate department as we continue to improve the Kindle experience for our customers.

I really hope that Amazon will be able to restore this service. I understand that this is a very personal gripe, and will not have any major impact on your average Canadian Kindle user. However, taken in line with Amazon’s policy of restricting many services to its US customers, this has left a foul taste in my mouth. I love my Whispersync for Voice and am very unhappy to have lost yet another service.

In a similar vein, Amazon recently announced that it has extended its Prime service to Canadian users. Although for many, the free shipping may justify the $79 per year price tag, even though they are paying the same as our American cousins, Canadians do not have access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (one free Kindle book a month) and free instant streaming of movies and TV shows.

Right now I feel really let down by Amazon and I’m beginning to see fewer and fewer reasons to stick with it and not move to Kobo.

Thoughts on the New iPhone 5 and iOS 6

So yesterday Apple held a media event to introduce the new iPhone 5. For those of us following the rumours, the announcement was pretty much as expected. The new model is officially called “iPhone 5” not the “new iPhone” à la iPad. The screen has been increased to 4 inches. It includes LTE fast network access. It has a faster processor and better camera. It includes a new Panorama feature for wide view photos.

Now, the Android cynics amongst you will note, quite rightly, that these features have been available on Android for some time. As Tim Cook took great pains to stress though, it’s the first time these have been available on the Apple ecosystem. It’s also a testimony to Apple’s strength in the market that two weeks ago, Fido announced the activation of its LTE network. I am left with the impression though that Apple was playing catch up rather than being the innovator it used to be.

Until a week ago, I was using an iPhone 4. However, I became frustrated waiting on my Fido phone being eligible for an upgrade and I REALLY wanted to check out Siri. So just over a week ago, I bought an iPhone 4S, knowing that it would likely be returned within the 14 day window to be replaced by an iPhone 5. The upgrade from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S or 5 is a nice jump. Having said that, it won’t be the end of the world if Apple won’t take back my iPhone 4S.

I’ve really enjoyed my time with Siri. It may be because she’s still a novelty to me, and after a week it’s not worn off yet. I’ve used her mainly to set timers and alarms, and also to send the odd text message. She seems to understand my Scottish accent most of the time. There will be a few days between returning the iPhone 4S and having Siri on my iPad with iOS 6. I’m actually really going to miss her. What I find her useful for is reminders and checking calendar events. It is definitely quicker to tell Siri to set an alarm than to navigate through the app. I’m undecided if it’s quicker to type a text message than to have Siri send it. It’s possibly quicker if she gets it right first time, which happens maybe 50% of the time. Maybe she’ll get better as she gets to know me.

Once again, Scott Forstall demonstrated iOS 6 during this keynote. I have to ask myself how many times Apple can demonstrate the same things over and over and over. To my knowledge, this is the third time that iOS 6 has been demoed. By now we all know that the new Maps application is cool; that Siri is now a sports and cinema fan; and that you can now open apps via Siri.

That is not to say iOS 6 does not add a lot of extra functionality which is most welcome. Personally, I’m looking forward most to the Do Not Disturb function which allows your phone to remain silent and the screen blank if you do not want to be disturbed. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been woken by friends in different time zones posting a Facebook status update. I’m also looking forward to local search being available for Siri in Canada. For the moment, Siri is unable to find restaurants: she replies “Sorry, I can’t look for places in Canada.” It should be noted though that iOS 6’s extra functionality is very restricted geographically. This site shows just how few countries can benefit from it. This is rather disappointing from Apple who has generally impressed me with how broadly international its coverage was.

All in all, the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 upgrade are nice, and very welcome. They are not setting my world alight as the original iPhone did.

Thoughts on the New iPhone 5 and iOS 6

So yesterday Apple held a media event to introduce the new iPhone 5. For those of us following the rumours, the announcement was pretty much as expected. The new model is officially called “iPhone 5” not the “new iPhone” à la iPad. The screen has been increased to 4 inches. It includes LTE fast network access. It has a faster processor and better camera. It includes a new Panorama feature for wide view photos.

Now, the Android cynics amongst you will note, quite rightly, that these features have been available on Android for some time. As Tim Cook took great pains to stress though, it’s the first time these have been available on the Apple ecosystem. It’s also a testimony to Apple’s strength in the market that two weeks ago, Fido announced the activation of its LTE network. I am left with the impression though that Apple was playing catch up rather than being the innovator it used to be.

Until a week ago, I was using an iPhone 4. However, I became frustrated waiting on my Fido phone being eligible for an upgrade and I REALLY wanted to check out Siri. So just over a week ago, I bought an iPhone 4S, knowing that it would likely be returned within the 14 day window to be replaced by an iPhone 5. The upgrade from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S or 5 is a nice jump. Having said that, it won’t be the end of the world if Apple won’t take back my iPhone 4S.

I’ve really enjoyed my time with Siri. It may be because she’s still a novelty to me, and after a week it’s not worn off yet. I’ve used her mainly to set timers and alarms, and also to send the odd text message. She seems to understand my Scottish accent most of the time. There will be a few days between returning the iPhone 4S and having Siri on my iPad with iOS 6. I’m actually really going to miss her. What I find her useful for is reminders and checking calendar events. It is definitely quicker to tell Siri to set an alarm than to navigate through the app. I’m undecided if it’s quicker to type a text message than to have Siri send it. It’s possibly quicker if she gets it right first time, which happens maybe 50% of the time. Maybe she’ll get better as she gets to know me.

Once again, Scott Forstall demonstrated iOS 6 during this keynote. I have to ask myself how many times Apple can demonstrate the same things over and over and over. To my knowledge, this is the third time that iOS 6 has been demoed. By now we all know that the new Maps application is cool; that Siri is now a sports and cinema fan; and that you can now open apps via Siri.

That is not to say iOS 6 does not add a lot of extra functionality which is most welcome. Personally, I’m looking forward most to the Do Not Disturb function which allows your phone to remain silent and the screen blank if you do not want to be disturbed. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been woken by friends in different time zones posting a Facebook status update. I’m also looking forward to local search being available for Siri in Canada. For the moment, Siri is unable to find restaurants: she replies “Sorry, I can’t look for places in Canada.” It should be noted though that iOS 6’s extra functionality is very restricted geographically. This site shows just how few countries can benefit from it. This is rather disappointing from Apple who has generally impressed me with how broadly international its coverage was.

All in all, the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 upgrade are nice, and very welcome. They are not setting my world alight as the original iPhone did.

What’s on my Tablets?

So, I now have both an Android Nexus 7 and an Apple iPad. Many of the apps I have on both, so here's a rundown of them. (NB iTunes links are for the Canadian store). All apps are free unless otherwise specified.

On Both

e-Reading
Kindle (Apple iTunes, Google Play): Amazon's app for accessing their e-book content. This is one of the first apps I downloaded.

Kobo (Apple iTunes, Google Play): the app to access Kobo ebooks. The tablet version includes Kobo Pulse, Kobo's interactive e-reading community.

GoodReads (Apple iTunes, Google Play): GoodReads is the social network for readers on which I am very active. I also use it to keep track of my reading. Feel free to check out my profile.

Zinio (Apple iTunes, Google Play): Zinio is the app and content provider I use for magazines. Although I have it on both the Nexus and iPad, the iPad's larger 10 inch Retina display screen makes reading magazines an absolute joy. That is one type of reading I much prefer to do on my tablet than my eInk e-reader.

Overdrive Media Console (Apple iTunes, Google Play): Overdrive is the app used to access Overdrive's large library of ebooks for lending. Not every library is connected to this, but I am fortunate that the local library BAnQ is a part. Generally, I prefer to side load the books to my Kobo, but at a pinch, I can access them via Overdrive. For those of you with Macs: note that the Nexus 7 is not recognised by Adobe Digital Editions, meaning the Overdrive app is the only way I've found so far to read library books on the device.

Social Networking
I use the standard apps to access the usual social networking sites:

Facebook (Apple iTunes, Google Play) this is the official Facebook app. It does what it says on the can.

Twitter (Apple iTunes, Google Play): again, I use the official Twitter app. I hear there are better ones out there, but again this does the job, no fuss.

Flipboard (Apple iTunes, Google Play): this is your social network feeds presented in a magazine-like format. It's quite fun and very nicely done.

Skype (Apple iTunes, Google Play): I occasionally use Skype to make calls, but not very often. It's nice to have it available though.

Music and Cinema
Rdio (Apple iTunes, Google Play) : App is free, but requires a subscription for the streaming music service. Since subscribing to this, I almost never buy music now. Music quality is fine on both devices. It's particularly fun on the Nexus where you can use Google Voice to say "Listen to Somebody by Reba McEntire" (yes, I'm a Reba fan) and it will hook into Rdio and start playing the song.

Cineplex Mobile (Apple iTunes, Google Play): Most of the cinemas near me are now Cineplex chain cinemas, so this is a really useful app for me to check movie times and book tickets. I'm hoping that with the release of iO6 and Passbook this may be even more useful avoiding printing my tickets at all.

IMDb (Apple iTunes, Google Play): This is a valuable resource for cinephiles like me – on the tablets – iPad in particular – it is just such a joy to browse – full-screen trailers and hi-res images.

Netflix (Apple iTunes, Google Play) Access to streaming media via subscription. I really enjoy watching Netflix on the iPad, although I've not yet tried on the Nexus' smaller screen.

Utilities
STM (Apple iTunes, Google Play): This is the official app for the Montreal public transport system. On my iPhone it's probably one of the apps I use most frequently to check bus times. On the Nexus it's been superseded by Google Now, which brings up my local bus times before I even ask.

1Password Pro (Apple iTunes $14.99, Google Play – reader only): this is the app I use to manage my passwords. I have a full version on my iMac and it syncs seamlessly between my iPhone, iPad and now Nexus. NB, the Android version is read only. I did have to get a Dropbox account to manage the synchronisation.

BBC News (Apple iTunes, Google Play): I tend to get most of my news from browsing the BBC News site at my iMac but sometimes it's good to be able to catch up on the iPad or Nexus.

These are the apps I have installed on both the iPad and Nexus, and are the ones I use on a very regular basis. There are a few I have on the Nexus that are not on the iOS and vice versa

On the Nexus 7

Beautiful Widgets (Google Play, $2.59) This app allows for some fun personalisation of the device.

SmoothSync for Cloud Contacts (Google Play, $3.68): This, together with SmoothSync for Cloud Calendar (Google Play, $2.63) allows me to synchronise my iCloud contacts and calendar with my Nexus. It works beautifully.

On the iPad

Utilities
Bento (Apple iTunes, $4.99): This app hooks into Bento, the database program I use on my Mac. Its not being available on Android is rather a deal breaker for me to switch to an Android phone.

TV Stations
None of these apps is available yet for the Nexus. It should be noted that most Android apps are still geared towards phones rather than tablets; I imagine that will change in the coming months. I often enjoy curling up on the sofa with my iPad to catch up on shows I've missed. Now if only HBO Go would come to Canada…

CTV (Apple iTunes Streaming media from CTV.

CityTV )Apple iTunes): Streaming media from CityTV.

BBC iPlayer Apple iTunes): Streaming media from Auntie. Requires a subscription.

Global (Apple iTunes): Streaming media from GlobalTV.

CBC TV (Apple iTunes): Streaming media from CBC TV.

Games
I have not downloaded any games to the Nexus, although I appreciate it has the oomph for them. I have too many on my iPhone/iPad to mention. Here are my favourites. NB I accept no responsibility for time lost playing these games

Where's My Water? (Apple iTunes, $0.99) Guide the water past the obstacles to Swampy's shower. Highly addictive.

Cut the Rope (Apple iTunes, $1.99) Cut the rope at the right time to guide the candy to the little green monster.

Beyond Ynth (Apple iTunes $2.99): Guide Ynth around the obstacles to collect crystals. I lost weeks of time on this.

Boxed in 3 (Apple iTunes, $0.99) Move boxes around to clear the exit. Surprisingly difficult and addictive.

So there you have it, a look around the apps on my Nexus and iPad. Many of them are the usual suspects, but all of them I have used and still use on a regular basis. Enjoy.

What’s on my Tablets?

So, I now have both an Android Nexus 7 and an Apple iPad. Many of the apps I have on both, so here’s a rundown of them. (NB iTunes links are for the Canadian store). All apps are free unless otherwise specified.

On Both

e-Reading
Kindle (Apple iTunes, Google Play): Amazon’s app for accessing their e-book content. This is one of the first apps I downloaded.

Kobo (Apple iTunes, Google Play): the app to access Kobo ebooks. The tablet version includes Kobo Pulse, Kobo’s interactive e-reading community.

GoodReads (Apple iTunes, Google Play): GoodReads is the social network for readers on which I am very active. I also use it to keep track of my reading. Feel free to check out my profile.

Zinio (Apple iTunes, Google Play): Zinio is the app and content provider I use for magazines. Although I have it on both the Nexus and iPad, the iPad’s larger 10 inch Retina display screen makes reading magazines an absolute joy. That is one type of reading I much prefer to do on my tablet than my eInk e-reader.

Overdrive Media Console (Apple iTunes, Google Play): Overdrive is the app used to access Overdrive’s large library of ebooks for lending. Not every library is connected to this, but I am fortunate that the local library BAnQ is a part. Generally, I prefer to side load the books to my Kobo, but at a pinch, I can access them via Overdrive. For those of you with Macs: note that the Nexus 7 is not recognised by Adobe Digital Editions, meaning the Overdrive app is the only way I’ve found so far to read library books on the device.

Social Networking
I use the standard apps to access the usual social networking sites:

Facebook (Apple iTunes, Google Play) this is the official Facebook app. It does what it says on the can.

Twitter (Apple iTunes, Google Play): again, I use the official Twitter app. I hear there are better ones out there, but again this does the job, no fuss.

Flipboard (Apple iTunes, Google Play): this is your social network feeds presented in a magazine-like format. It’s quite fun and very nicely done.

Skype (Apple iTunes, Google Play): I occasionally use Skype to make calls, but not very often. It’s nice to have it available though.

Music and Cinema
Rdio (Apple iTunes, Google Play) : App is free, but requires a subscription for the streaming music service. Since subscribing to this, I almost never buy music now. Music quality is fine on both devices. It’s particularly fun on the Nexus where you can use Google Voice to say “Listen to Somebody by Reba McEntire” (yes, I’m a Reba fan) and it will hook into Rdio and start playing the song.

Cineplex Mobile (Apple iTunes, Google Play): Most of the cinemas near me are now Cineplex chain cinemas, so this is a really useful app for me to check movie times and book tickets. I’m hoping that with the release of iO6 and Passbook this may be even more useful avoiding printing my tickets at all.

IMDb (Apple iTunes, Google Play): This is a valuable resource for cinephiles like me – on the tablets – iPad in particular – it is just such a joy to browse – full-screen trailers and hi-res images.

Netflix (Apple iTunes, Google Play) Access to streaming media via subscription. I really enjoy watching Netflix on the iPad, although I’ve not yet tried on the Nexus’ smaller screen.

Utilities
STM (Apple iTunes, Google Play): This is the official app for the Montreal public transport system. On my iPhone it’s probably one of the apps I use most frequently to check bus times. On the Nexus it’s been superseded by Google Now, which brings up my local bus times before I even ask.

1Password Pro (Apple iTunes $14.99, Google Play – reader only): this is the app I use to manage my passwords. I have a full version on my iMac and it syncs seamlessly between my iPhone, iPad and now Nexus. NB, the Android version is read only. I did have to get a Dropbox account to manage the synchronisation.

BBC News (Apple iTunes, Google Play): I tend to get most of my news from browsing the BBC News site at my iMac but sometimes it’s good to be able to catch up on the iPad or Nexus.

These are the apps I have installed on both the iPad and Nexus, and are the ones I use on a very regular basis. There are a few I have on the Nexus that are not on the iOS and vice versa

On the Nexus 7

Beautiful Widgets (Google Play, $2.59) This app allows for some fun personalisation of the device.

SmoothSync for Cloud Contacts (Google Play, $3.68): This, together with SmoothSync for Cloud Calendar (Google Play, $2.63) allows me to synchronise my iCloud contacts and calendar with my Nexus. It works beautifully.

On the iPad

Utilities
Bento (Apple iTunes, $4.99): This app hooks into Bento, the database program I use on my Mac. Its not being available on Android is rather a deal breaker for me to switch to an Android phone.

TV Stations
None of these apps is available yet for the Nexus. It should be noted that most Android apps are still geared towards phones rather than tablets; I imagine that will change in the coming months. I often enjoy curling up on the sofa with my iPad to catch up on shows I’ve missed. Now if only HBO Go would come to Canada…

CTV (Apple iTunes Streaming media from CTV.

CityTV )Apple iTunes): Streaming media from CityTV.

BBC iPlayer Apple iTunes): Streaming media from Auntie. Requires a subscription.

Global (Apple iTunes): Streaming media from GlobalTV.

CBC TV (Apple iTunes): Streaming media from CBC TV.

Games
I have not downloaded any games to the Nexus, although I appreciate it has the oomph for them. I have too many on my iPhone/iPad to mention. Here are my favourites. NB I accept no responsibility for time lost playing these games

Where’s My Water? (Apple iTunes, $0.99) Guide the water past the obstacles to Swampy’s shower. Highly addictive.

Cut the Rope (Apple iTunes, $1.99) Cut the rope at the right time to guide the candy to the little green monster.

Beyond Ynth (Apple iTunes $2.99): Guide Ynth around the obstacles to collect crystals. I lost weeks of time on this.

Boxed in 3 (Apple iTunes, $0.99) Move boxes around to clear the exit. Surprisingly difficult and addictive.

So there you have it, a look around the apps on my Nexus and iPad. Many of them are the usual suspects, but all of them I have used and still use on a regular basis. Enjoy.

Nexus 7, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

As you might have gathered from my title, I have the Nexus 7 in my hand and have been playing with it for a couple of days now.

i can’t believe how different my experience has been with this compared to my previous Android experience on the Kobo Vox. This machine is FAST. it is a Google sponsored product, so it comes with pure Android 4.1.1., Jelly Bean. The Google team has been focussing on lag in Project Butter, and although I can’t compare with anything other than the Kobo Vox, the user experience is silky smooth. In comparison to the Kobo Vox, when I changed screen orientation while reading a Kobo book, I was not faced with five seconds of white screen while the device caught up.

Two things I was anxious to check out in Jelly Bean were the Google Search (a Siri equivalent) and Google Now. I have had great fun with Google Search – I was particularly impressed when it hooked up to my Rdio account and will play any song I tell it to play. I was also blown away by Google Now when I checked it and found my bus times without my having to do anything.

One of my biggest complaints about the Kobo Vox was the lack of apps available in the official Kobo app store (it was recently opened up to the entire Android Market.) The Nexus 7 is linked to the Google Play store. In general I have no such complaints. Within a very short time of owning the device I had all my favourite eReading apps downloaded and installed: Kindle, Kobo, Goodreads, Overdrive. One rather annoying issue is that the Nexus does not show up on my iMac’s Finder when it is connected; I had to download the Android File Transfer app to be able to copy files. This means that I cannot authorise the device in Adobe Digital Editions, as it does not recognise the device, and so I cannot read non Kobo DRMed ebooks. However, I was able to download 50 Shades of Grey (don’t judge my reading choice, please!) from my local library and authorise it for the Overdrive Media Console.

In terms of battery life, I’ve been impressed so far. I charged it fully, and after a full day of playing with it (not much video, in all fairness) it still had 44% left. Of course, that can’t compare to my eInk Kindle or Kobo, but I didn’t expect it to do so. I will read my library book on it and see how it holds up from reading.

One thing I’m loving about Android is widgets. I have my home screen set so it shows me local time and weather information, my last few emails and my upcoming calendar entries.

As a long-time self-confessed Apple fan girl, I live in an iCloud world. I’d been wondering how to get my iCloud information onto the device. I found a couple of (paid) apps that synchronized my iCloud contacts and calendar. I wasn’t out of pocket thanks to the Google Play’s generous $25 store credit on purchase of the device. These two apps worked perfectly, and I soon had my iCloud contacts and calendar on my device.

All in all, I adore this device and will certainly be keeping this one. I had intended it as a multi-platform eReading device, but having played with it, I can see it will offer so much more. I would not hesitate to recommend it.

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