THE DROID DIARIES: Already had to hit the reset switch once

I’ve finally joined the SmartPhone revolution and am now in possession of my very own Android phone. A few observations from the past 24 hours that I’ve had it:

  • When you first set up the phone, make sure the Google account you first sign into is the one you want for life. My wife got an identical phone as me, and we got them mixed up. In order to reset the Google account, you have to reset the entire phone to the factory settings. That wasn’t so bad for my wife, since she’d not had as much time to play with hers. But for me, I felt I was too far down the pike to reset.
  • The Google account problem is making it impossible to sync my Google calendar to the Google calendar app. While there is an option for adding another calendar, it doesn’t actually work within the app. Fortunately, the Google calendar is mobile-browser friendly.
  • If you’re into soundboards, the Droid Market has about a billion of them from all of your favorite movies and TV shows. I’ve already opted for Quaqmire quotes.

So far, the most impressive feature may be the 5 megapixel phone, my first phone that actually includes a flash. Here’s a picture I snapped of my daughter after her pre-Easter binge on candy.

How not to build an iPhone app

I don’t know if it’s the AP’s status as a co-op, or its decentralized nature, or its ties to traditional (old) media, or what the problem is. But once again, they’ve proven that they just don’t get it when it comes to new media.

The AP launched a stylebook app for the iPhone/iPod Touch today. Which is pretty cool on the face of it. But there are two things that make it a major bucket of fail:

1. It costs $28.99 (for comparison’s sake, the print edition of the same book is $12.89 on Amazon.com).
2. It doesn’t dynamically update. Check the snippet from the news release below:

The 2009 AP Stylebook app is available for $28.99 from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at http://www.itunes.com/appstore. Annual releases for the app are set to coincide with the release dates for the Stylebook print edition. As a bonus, 2009 AP Stylebook app users will automatically receive an upgrade to the 2010 AP Stylebook app as soon as it becomes available.

I did a quick search for “dictionary” on the App Store and turned up more than 50 results, many of which were free or cost $0.99. Even complicated dictionary programs, such as Latin-English or English-Chinese, didn’t go above $3.99. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary was on the high end, at $24.99, but comes in seven languages. (I’m aware that the stylebook is more than a dictionary, but please … it’s got something like 3,000 entries, total.)

I’m just really not sure of who the market is for this. Most journalists I know who use the stylebook daily have several sitting around a copy desk, paid for by the newspaper. I had a previous experience with the AP when I attempted to buy their online stylebook for our newsroom; they had no clue what a “concurrent license” was and insisted that $25 was a fair rate, even with our university bookstore charging $10 for the print edition.

But, most of all, what irks me is the utter lack of dynamic content. It’s an app on a phone that connects to the Internet — AP, seriously, you really can’t provide updates automatically?

Big chunk of fail.

VIDEO PICK: Social media is bigger than you think.

Just picked up this article at Mashable and watched the accompanying video. Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, breaks down the impact we’re seeing from social media so well in this video. Take special heed to his assertion that social media is not some fly-by-night fad — it’s a “fundamental shift in communication.”

I couldn’t agree more. Enjoy:

New Twitter tool for the iPhone

I bought Reportage on the recommendation of a Canadian Web site today. If you haven’t heard of it, Reportage is a Twitter client for the iPhone/iPod Touch. On the face of it, that doesn’t sound too interesting, but Reportage does a couple of cool things that make it worth a look if you’re a journalist:

  • It takes your tweet stream and splits it up by individual followers, rather than lumping it all into the default chronological order. That’s so smart I really don’t know why no one’s thought of it yet — although part of the fun of Twitter is the realtime stream of information, I use it for chatting with people enough that I find myself searching for replies from individual users quite often. The analogy the Web site quoted above uses was to compare your Twitter peeps to radio stations, and it’s not a bad one. You get a “broadcast” from each individual.
  • Once you click on someone’s tweet, you can then use a horizontal scroll at the bottom of your screen to move back and forth in the wider timeline. (In other words, you get a chance to see the other folks you follow as well.)
  • It has a “local” section that lets you find people tweeting within 1, 5 or 15 miles of you. That seems to be a little quirky (it reports that I live in Moores Switch, U.S.) but I do recognize local Twitterers whom I follow when I hit that interface. (By the way, here’s the Google result for Moores Switch. Not how I would immediately describe the 65203, but who am I to argue with Google?) The obvious reporting advantage to this is being able to quickly search tweets when there’s news happening near where you are. Of course, that assumes a critical mass of people are both tweeting AND have a geolocatable device, but that number is only going to grow.
  • You can “star” people to add them as favorites. I can see a use for that for people whose tweets I care about more than others, but it would be even more useful to sort them into groups. (It would be even more useful if you could do that on the Twitter homepage and then have those follow you from client to client. But since when did Twitter itself innovate? /rant.)
  • It also has a function that lets you “mute” individuals for a period of time (for example, if people start real-time twittering from a conference.) That’s a whole lot easier than unfollowing, following, etc.

Overall, it’s a cool app. Well worth the $2.99.

(Note: Originally posted over at my blog. Totally just plagiarized myself.)

Using Smartphones in the medical field

Who says the iPhone is just a fancy toy? This article from the Washington Post is an insightful look into the iPhone’s use in the medical field. It’s a good reminder of exactly how much can be done with one small little handheld.

When I have more time, I’m coming in with a brain dump on all the ways a smartphone can be used by journalists. Stay tuned.