New Nexus Phones

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Google announced a pair of new Nexus phones packed with the latest hardware and software. Being a Nexus 6 user, the, Nexus 6P (bad name) appeals directly to me.

Wired interviewed, Alberto Villarreal, a Google hardware designer on the approach Google took in designing the new Nexus phones. I found a few tidbits quite interesting.

This is all powered by a new “Android Sensor Hub,” which takes the accelerometer, gyroscope, and more, and bundles it all together on a low-power chip of its own. That means your Nexus phone can collect more information about where you are and what you’re doing, without hurting your battery life, and use it to do more predictive and useful things.

The latest trend in mobile computing is specialization where specific tasks and processes can be moved to a low power chip to save energy. Apple has done a similar thing with its motion co-processor in the iPhone (recently moved back on chip in the 6 plus, but is still specialized).

There’s no wireless charging here, which feels like an oversight, but there is super-fast charging through the new port. And for now, Waraich says, that’s the best solution we’ve got. He says both phones will last a full day, but no more—and that’s as good as it gets. “One and a half days doesn’t matter,” he says. “In the morning you want your battery to look 100 percent when you leave for the day. So either somebody solves it for a week battery, or you have to give reliably one solid day of battery.”

Weirdly and exactly right, for most users. I’m at most 9-10 hours from a charger. If my phone can last that span with pretty heavy use with a healthy amount of battery left, the problem is essentially solved.  Most (if not all) smartphone manufacturers optimized for all day battery life because two day battery life is useless for the majority of people. We can charge every night.

There’s a 12.3-megapixel Sony camera sensor inside both devices, with 1.55 micron pixels that are much larger than your average smartphone. The Nexus cameras have never been much to brag about, but Google says this combination of high pixel count and big pixels is going to be huge..ere’s a 12.3-megapixel Sony camera sensor inside both devices, with 1.55 micron pixels that are much larger than your average smartphone. The Nexus cameras have never been much to brag about, but Google says this combination of high pixel count and big pixels is going to be huge.

Google has been serious about imaging in its Nexus phones for the last 3 years. Why would this year be any different. They have the imaging hardware to back it up. They appear to be using the recently announced Sony IMX377, with its large sensor size. However, your camera will live and die in the software of your camera stack, so I hope they paid the software the same attention.

The iPhone’s 6s, ‘s’ really is for speed

Joshua Ho at Anandtech posted some preliminary performance benchmark results of the iPhone 6s.

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It’s clear that Apple has an incredible hardware advantage (and thus performance advantage) because they own the entire stack, hardware + software. I’m rather jealous. All of the Android devices I would use appear at the bottom of charts (the Nexus’) . While benchmarks don’t really matter as long as real world performance is ok, the performance gap is staggering.

While I’m a dedicated Android user, I’ve never been closer to wanting to buy an iPhone as I am right now.

Huawei Watch

Dieter Bohn of The Verge on the Huawei Watch:

People who want to spend $349 and up on a nice-looking watch can probably find something nicer-looking than this. People who just want the utility of a smartwatch can probably find something cheaper than this. The sliver of people who both like the look of the Huawei Watch and understand the capabilities and limitations of Android Wear seems perishingly small to me.

I agree with the conclusion of The Verge’s review of the Huawei Watch. It’s tough spending any appreciable amount of money on something like this (primarily because it’s digital and will be obsolete eventually).  The jury is still out on whether smart watch manufacturers will treat these devices like real watches with years of longetivity or smartphones with 2-3 years of longetivity. My guess is the latter.

Culture Fit

Outstanding article, written by Mark Luckie, former manager of Journalism and News, on “What it’s actually like to be a Black employee at a tech company“.  It’s completely worth the read reshare.

The most impactful detriment to diversity in Silicon Valley is the idea of “culture fit.” Employees are actively encouraged to suggest friends or former colleagues for open roles. The premise is if the employee and the candidate have a congenial relationship outside of the company, the new recruit is more likely to work well with other staffers. The recommended candidates are given preference or special attention during the recruiting process. It should come as no surprise then that there aren’t more applicants of color to select from.

I’ve always thought the phrase “culture fit” sounded weird.  No one has ever formerly defined “culture fit” and it’s ambiguity can be used to exclude people who are totally different, from a “culture fit” standpoint, entry into a company they’d probably succeed at (or the inverse, people are who are a great “culture fit”, but aren’t successful at all).  The next time someone uses the term “culture fit” in any context, I’d encourage you to ask them what they understand that culture to be.

-> What it’s actually like to be a Black employee at a tech company?

WhereIP

Ever wanted to know where in the world a particular IP address was?  Here you go, WhereIP.  I completed this a few weeks ago, but didn’t get a chance to upload the source code until now.

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Check it out on GitHub -> WhereIP