May 29, 2015

Everything Wrong With Google Photos

Google Photos just launched and although it has great features like being its own standalone product, unlimited storage, and automagical search, I find it lacking major features that you'd expect in a photo management platform. That annoyed me enough to make me write my first post in 2.5 years!

So here we go, everything that I think is wrong with Google Photos:

1. Albums are second class citizens
Google prefers to give the task of sorting out your life's worth of photos almost completely to artificial intelligence, and you have no say in it.

While Google's AI is smart enough to detect people, things, & locations in photos it will always be missing the context. While it's very smart to get photos of my dogs if I search for "dog", it completely fails to allow me to search for a one specific dog, not to mention if I'm actually looking for that dog's 7th birthday party. How would Google know that?

Albums are very important but they just don't see it that way. Album management is stripped down to the point where they could've just got rid of it altogether. If you like managing photos in albums, you're in for a bad time. There's more about albums below.

2. Can't tag people in photos
I don't know about you, but for a photo management platform I think I'd like to tag people so I can easily search for them later. Speaking of searching, searching by people's name returns either incomplete results & sometimes nothing at all. It's also unclear how they'd associate people's names without tagging.

3. Albums are world accessible by default
This is huge, most of your private albums (and all of the newly created ones) are world accessible...for people who have the link. This is done so you can share your photos with your friends with a link, but instead of that permission being granted when you generate the sharing link, it's there by default and the only way to change that is by using Picasa Web Albums!

Sure, the ability for anyone to guess that link is highly unlikely, but the idea of having all your private photos protected only by links is just absurd.

4. No way to fix the date of photos
This is a smart system right? It can easily detect when that photo was taken without your help right? Wrong. Let's say you're scanning your childhood photos, those photos are taken tens of years ago and not the day you scanned them. What if the camera's date and time were wrong? Even editing a photo messes up its time stamp.

5. No way to add description or metadata to an album
You're only allowed to name your albums. That's it. I really like adding more info about my albums like locations, dates (already mentioned in point 4. how the system fails in managing that correctly), and notes. I find myself going to Google Plus and creating an Event so I can store those details.

6. Can't tell if a photo is in an album
This one probably annoys me the most. I'd like to go to my "Auto Backed Up" photos and move them into albums. First of all you can no longer know what was auto backed up in the first place like you did in G+ Photos. Second, the idea of albums as folders is gone & replaced by labels. This is not a bad thing at all except that those labels are not visible to the user! So you can't really tell if a photo is in an album (or many) nor if it's not categorized by you at all.

7. Shared G+ event photos no longer appear in the album
Google Plus Events has an awesome feature that allows everyone in an event to upload their photos which creates a shared G+ Photos album for all the event's attendees. This is just great, except that photos uploaded by others no longer appear in that album in Google Photos.

8. Can't tell which photos are actually using storage space
If you select unlimited storage as your upload option, any photo with resolution higher than 16MP is scaled down to that, easy. But, if you're uploading in full size, you have no clue which photos are using free storage and which ones are using your storage quota. There's also no option to scale down a certain photo so it won't use storage quota anymore.

9. Picasa, G+ Photos, & Google Photos coexist
Google Photos is the 3rd iteration of a photo solution by Google and you can still use any of those different renditions to manage your photos! I'm not really complaining here, as Google Photos lacks so much album management features, I find myself going to Picasa and even G+ to do certain tasks.

January 24, 2013

How to Clear All App Cache in Android 4.2

With version 4.2, Android has added a very useful feature that shows you how much space is taken by the cache data of your apps & the ability to clear it. This is very convenient if you frequently find yourself running out of space.

If you wanted to do this in older versions of Android, you had to go to Settings > Apps & visit every app one by one to clear cache data.

Here's how to do this in Android 4.2:
  1. Go to Settings > Storage.
  2. You'll see categorized information about your storage including the new Cached data section.
  3. Click on Cached data to clear it.
The screenshots below shows you how that looks like.

If you want to see detailed information about which app cache is taking the most space or you need a quicker way to clear the cache regularly, I recommend using App Cache Cleaner as it offers exactly that. It also has a one touch widget that you can use to clear all your app cache really quickly.

August 6, 2012

YouTube "An Error Occurred" Animation

If you watch a lot of YouTube videos, eventually you going to encounter the An error occurred. Please try again later error. While it's always disappointing to see that, YouTube has recently added a TV Noise themed animation to this error to lighten up the mood.

You can see how it looks like below or check out the animated version.

January 4, 2012

Tips & Tricks For Android 4

After using Android 4, Ice-Cream Sandwich, for sometime now, I have compiled my own list of tips & tricks. Since a lot of Android related websites have already compiled such lists, I'm only going to mention the not so obvious ones. So here we go!

A very easy way to check for system updates

Now it's easy to know more information about system updates. Go to Settings > About phone > System updates & you can see when was the last time the system has checked for updates. There's also a Check now button that checks for updates instantly which is a very user-friendly alternative to dialing *#*#checkin#*#* or *#*#2432546#*#*

More information about unknown callers
Now it's easier to know more information about callers that are not in your contact list as the caller's country is displayed in the call log for these numbers.

Upload & download signals for WiFi
Upload & download signals are now shown on top of the WiFi signal indicator to let you know that transfer is in progress. Such signals were only previously available for mobile data connections like 3G.

Built-in owner info
Android 4 now offers a built-in feature to display owner information on the unlock screen which is useful in case the phone got lost. This feature can be found in Settings > Security > Owner info

Multiple account support for Google Talk
If you only have one Google account on your phone, you probably haven't noticed this, but Google Talk now supports multiple accounts.

Problems connecting Android 4 devices through USB on Mac & Linux
Since version 3, Android has switched from using Mass Storage Protocol to Media Transfer Protocol which is suppose to be better but it's not natively supported on Mac & Linux.

For Mac users, there's an easy solution which is downloading Google's Android File Transfer tool.

For Linux, you either need to figure your way around a good MTP client & configure things manually, or check if your device supports behaving as a camera when connected to a computer. You can check this by going to 
Settings > Storage & from the menu choose USB computer connection then switch from using Media Device (MTP) to Camera (PTP).

Phone settings location
I found it very hard at the beginning to find the Phone settings as it is no where in the settings menu. Finally I discovered that now it can only be accessed by going to the Phone app & selecting Settings from the menu.

Phone settings on Nexus S

Removing  the search bar
The search bar in Android 4 is fixed on every screen of the desktop. Yet you can still remove it by going to Settings > Apps ALL tab & press on the Google Search application. Then press Disable. I really do NOT encourage you to do that as the screen space recovered can not be used for anything else anyway & who knows what other functionality you might be disabling by doing this.

Gmail icons are confusing
The icons in the Gmail application can be very confusing. If you can't figure out what a certain icon represents, just long press on that icon & its description will appear.

The sync icon has been removed
There is no work around for this, but I thought that I need to let you know that there is no notification icon displayed for an account being synced anymore (sucks, I know).

There's still no native toggle widget for mobile data
I'm sad to say that there is still no native widget to toggle the state of the mobile data connection. I hoped that it would be included in the Power control widget. Until then, I recommend the Data Enabler app as a solution; it works great & it's very fast.

A very cool Easter egg!
If you go to Settings > About Phone & press Android version repeatedly, you'll be shown an image of an Ice-Cream Sandwich Android. As cool at it is, that's not all! If you press & hold on that image, it keeps getting bigger & bigger until a flood of Androids start flying on your screen!

That's all I have for now, enjoy using your Android 4 phone!

October 26, 2011

Ice Cream Sandwich Has an Easter Egg...The Wrong One!

The Android team has followed the tradition of having Easter-eggs in Android. Just like the previous versions of Android like Gingerbread & Honeycomb, If you go to Settings > About Phone in Ice-cream Sandwich & press Android version repeatedly, you'll be shown an image related to that version of Android.

On Ice-cream Sandwich though, the Android team forgot to change the image & you'll end up seeing a bee which was used in the previous version, Honeycomb.

This is tried & tested on version 4.0.1 of Ice-cream Sandwich, let's see if they're going to change it to something ice-cream-ish by the time Galaxy Nexus launches.

October 15, 2011

New Android Market Released

It seems that the Android team is updating the Android Market just a few days before the anticipated release of Ice-cream Sandwich, the latest version of Android.

Android Market version 3.3.6 is not a major update but it has some visible changes:

An updated icon that looks more modern than the previous one.

The Google account associated with your installed apps is now shown on top with the ability to quickly switch to another account.

A new icon has been introduced to recognize top developers.

Reviews are now more detailed & look similar to the web-based Android market.