Some of you know me, some of you don't. I'll start with a little backstory for everyone:
I'm a designer and developer living in Seattle, WA. I do mobile development, web development, and general UI/UX design by trade, and timelapse photography by hobby. I also love screwing around with all things technology.
I picked up a Thunderbolt the day they became available, and have been running with Big Red's LTE ever since. I switched over to the Nexus when it became available, arriving in-store at Best Buy an hour before the UPS truck did. Between then and now, I've spent far too much time on AC, and the Gnex forum in particular.
I've long thought that the full potential of devices like the Galaxy Nexus is limited by politics, money, support, etc. Regarding politics, the example most commonly-known would be the Google Wallet vs. Isis battle. Verizon's stance on Google Wallet (rather, Verizon's backing of Isis) sometimes made it frustratingly hard to use Google Wallet on an LTE Gnex. In the case of support, Verizon's general low-priority regard of the Nexus means that it hasn't received such full support. This, coupled with Samsung's somewhat equal regard for the Nexus, result in situations such as a lack of available accessories. We all know those three little pogo pins on the side of our phone. It's great to be able to set it down in the desktop dock and charge through the pogo pins... oh, wait.
Moving into my apartment, I thought I'd take the opportunity to "go all the way" with my Nexus, so to speak. I'm changing where I live and how I live, so I might as well bring the Nexus along for the ride.
This post will chronicle my various experiments with the Nexus — what it does for me, and what I do with it.
My goal is to use the Nexus in more or less every way that I can in this apartment, and as I go about my day. I spent some time over the last year on a project developing "smart home" concepts, and I thought I'd bring that experience home as much as possible. I'm going to break this post up into the following sections:
- Television & Media
I'm always open to feedback, and eager to hear everyone's suggestions. If you want to see if something is possible, let me take a stab at it.
I use a lot of data. I like movies, and I'm way too active on Netflix, Hulu Plus, and CBS. Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, Lie To Me, Warehouse 13, House, Rookie Blue, ReGenesis, Eureka, Terra Nova, Alphas, Alcatraz, Numb3rs, Criminal Minds, CSI and CSI:NY, NCIS, and of course Family Guy and American Dad. Just to name a few.
I enjoy my music via Google Music, Pandora, and Spotify -- all of which require a data connection when not played from cached files. As a photographer, not only do I upload/download thousands of RAW files at 5-10MB each, but the lossless video renders for my timelapse shots range from 5GB to 50GB each
I'm more or less a data addict. But who isn't?
Here's the important part:
all of the data I use this year -- music, movies, web browsing, files, e-mail, even text messages -- will go through the line my Nexus is on. Everything that uses data in my routine life will go through this phone. I have an unlimited data plan. I've been grandfathered in, and plan to hang on to it for a while. There are a few who still have the unlimited plan who argue that they keep it "on principle" -- even though they wouldn't surpass the limits of a tiered/shared data plan. While I fully support that position, I'm part of the minority who do truly take advantage of the "unlimited" part of "unlimited data."
This is a screenshot of the first half of my current data cycle. The signal strength shown is a good representation of what I get here (-90 dBm, 50 asu). As for data usage, the first six days of this cycle have me at around 90GB. This puts me on track for 160-170GB
for the cycle of October 15 to November 15. I expect my usage to be around 130GB/month on average. After moving in, I re-imaged my laptop back to a clean install with applications, and re-downloaded a lot of data.
There is virtually no speed loss between the phone and devices connected to the hotspot. I've seen posts where users complain that the tablet/laptop/toaster connected to their wifi hotspot has much lower speeds than the phone gets at the same time. The only advice I have is to ensure your phone has a good signal to start -- the better the signal, the better the performance of the wifi hotspot.
Something I'd like to address: with a strong, reliable signal
it is more than possible to play multiplayer Xbox LIVE games and have a positive experience. While there are virtually no perceptible delays in performing actions, there are noticeable differences between what the game host perceives and what is shown on your screen, becoming most apparent when two people are fighting close-range in games such as Halo. I didn't want to give up occasional casual Xbox LIVE gaming, but it wasn't enough to warrant paying for wired internet to my apartment. Plus, Qwest (excuse me, Centurylink
) service is not worth the money for what they provide here.
I like NFC. I really like NFC. NFC excites me as a developer, as an Android user, as a mobile device enthusiast, as a consumer, and as a lazy person. Automation
I'm using NFC tags to help make my life "simpler" in my apartment. And just to do cool things.
I've picked up programmable NFC tags from a manufacturer, as well as some from tagstand.com. I have some adhesives, some non-adhesives, and some durable and weather-resistant tags encased in a thin circle of plastic. NFC operations and storage use NDEF, the NFC Data Exchange Format. This means that — for the most part — any NFC tags or NFC-enabled devices that you buy should be compatible with each other without issue. An application such as NFC Writer by tagstand is used to format data to the tag (some tags are re-writable, some have read-only capabilities), and a reader app such as NFC Task Launcher (again, by tagstand — no affiliation, just recommending a good consumer-oriented NFC solution) is used to parse data from the tag and execute any appropriate actions.
- I have two tags in the kitchen. They're of the durable plastic type. One provides instant access to an application containing multiple sets of stopwatches, countdown timers, and incremental counters. The application includes presets for different things in the kitchen, and has a service running in the background. Examples are pizzas in the oven or ice cubes freezing in the freezer. The service maintains the timers and communicates them with a service on my laptop.
- I have two tags near the edge of the table next to my bed. The first provides quick nighttime settings (currently brightness and volume). The second undos these changes when swiped in the morning.
- I have one by the door for when I'm leaving the apartment. It closes activities on my phone such as the kitchen timer app, but leaves the services running. I plan to enable communication with the service running on my laptop in order to do the following: ensure that music is stopped, the screens on my desk are turned off, and that the computer is locked (as in my user account is locked).
- I use the tags on my desk far more often, however. The primary tag activates the Wifi Hotspot when I place my phone down on the desk. I'm going to be integrating an inductive charging solution soon so I don't even need a cable. Finally, I have a line of ten tags on the other side of the desk. I reprogram these constantly, assigning various settings. Ranging from launching/killing applications, changing data settings, and rebooting (including rebooting to recovery), I use these for application development. While this likely won't be practical for the average user, for ROM developers or other tech enthusiasts it's a good way to have quick access to multiple settings.
Ironically, I don't have Wallet installed right now.. I should get on that. Long story short, I've been able to use NFC payment at quite a few locations in the Northwest, and it really is a great experience. Once I reinstall Wallet and start finding new opportunities to use it, I'll add more detail here. I'm eagerly awaiting the "leaked" future update of Google Wallet. Hopefully building some non-NFC traction for the service will make it easier for Google to get support for the NFC features.
This is a big one for me. I use Google Voice for all calls, voicemails, and text messages. It's my primary number. I do not have a text messaging plan (money saved is money earned, right?) For those who aren't aware, although Google Voice calls are not VoIP by default, all texts and voicemail data are sent/received using the data connection. Texting and voicemail on a long flight is nice, and the simple installation of GrooVe IP allows calls — not that making phone calls in crowded airplane seating is necessarily a smart thing to do.
Voice integrates with Android -- especially stock Android -- quite well. The stock dialer retains normal functionality, and you can set GV as the default application for handling text messages and calls, of course. When making or receiving calls the audio quality is on par with traditional Verizon calls, and there is no discernible latency or other delays.
The service running on my laptop is informed of incoming calls. I can't ignore the incoming call, but I can silence the phone from my computer. I'm still deciding on how I want to implement handling of incoming texts on my computer. For now, I have the Google Voice plugin for Chrome which notifies me of texts and allows me to respond inline.
Google Music has been and off-and-on thing for me, but I finally found a setup I like: all of my music files are in one folder, the filenames formatted as "Artist - Title". Google Music automatically uploads from that folder, and all of my organization/playlist building is done in the Google Music interface. Obviously, I have the music synchronized to my phone, and I set every playlist I have to be available offline. It works well.
Right now, I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7" which does nothing but control the music in my apartment. It connects to a Bluetooth (A2DP) receiver, the output of which goes into the microphone input on my computer. Thus I can route the audio however I want through speakers, and control it from anywhere in the apartment. I've had no issues with connection or quality over Bluetooth. I'm soon going to be changing how this works, see the section below for the details.
Television & Media
This is where my most ambitious plans lie. First, I'm going to outline the equipment:
Desktop PC running Windows 8, three 22" touchscreen monitors
Microsoft Surface Pro or Dell XPS 12 Duo
The desktop and tablet will be synchronized whenever they're in the apartment together. Files will be copied/merged, but settings won't be synchronized because the setup of the desktop will be much different than that of a tablet for me. The TV will have two inputs set up: first
, the Xbox 360 will be hooked up with a nice, crisp 1080p signal. I'll use the Windows 8 tablet to control the Xbox via Smartglass
, using Intel WiDi (Wireless Display) which is built in to systems with select Intel Core processors, I will be able to directly stream the tablet's screen onto the TV. It's going to be interesting to see which approach (Tablet <> Xbox, or Tablet > TV) will be more productive for movies, browsing, etc. I'll be using Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, any many more similar applications through this setup.
This tablet will also replace the Tab 2 7" for controlling music streaming to the apartment. If Google doesn't release Windows 8 Apps (Metro apps) for their services (Google Voice & Google Music in particular), I'll write them myself. No problems there.
...that's it. I'm going to update this often with my progress, new phones, new devices, etc. If you have ideas, suggestions, comments, etc., please let me know! I'm posting this because I want to push boundaries, not just have an interesting phone.