A New Cloud Era with Nexus 7 Tablet, Nexus Q and Chrome

In the Google I/O 2012 just commenced, Google announced quite some new projects and products that have long been expected.  As someone who strongly believe in cloud-living, I am particularly interested in software and hardware developments that bring people closer to the cloud.  Here are a few new things I observed:

 

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

There have been rumors about Google’s own branded tablet, and now it comes true.  This 7-inch device is seen by many as a strong Kindle Fire competitor, not only because of   the same price tag ($199), but also its capability to handle content streaming from Google Play.  Buyers can get a $25 Google Play credit (as a temporary incentive though) to purchase content from Google Play store, including songs, movies, TV shows, magazines and books.

Google Nexus 7

I always believe that in the future mobile devices should have small local storage but great streaming power.  Instead of storing everything offline, we could download contents and run apps by accessing the cloud.  The Chrome browser + web apps combination has been a (quite) successful demonstration.  Obviously Google is aware of the huge demand for streaming content, probably due to the success of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, so besides making a great budget tablet, Google also makes Nexus 7 a nice device for retrieving content from the internet.

Interested parties could pre-order a Nexus tablet now, however it is limited to some countries only.

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Top 10 Posts of Cloud High Club in 2011

2011 was a terrific year.  I started this blog in March and wrote 368 posts, that is more than 1 post a day.  I just did a little data mining to find out the most popular blogposts in the last year.

Below are the top 10 blog posts in 2011:

  1. How to integrate Google Plus with Facebook and Twitter
  2. Start G+: Sync your posts in Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter, show FB and Twitter streams in Google+
  3. 10 popular Japanese anime Chrome themes, Metal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Bleach, One Piece…
  4. How to search Google Plus posts and profiles: a missing feature
  5. 15 essential Chrome add-ons for Google Plus beginners
  6. Who to follow on Google Plus? Expand your circles by adding recommended users!
  7. Complete guide to migration from Facebook to Google+, transfer your contacts, photos and videos
  8. 10 Awesome Game Themes for Chrome, Super Mario Bros, Angry Birds, Mega Man and more
  9. Chromebook vs Android Tablet: Does Touch UI Matter?
  10. Top 10 Google Chrome movie themes, Harry Potter, Transformer, Kung Fu Panda and more

I definitely think that 2011 was the “year of social network”.

 

2011: The Year of Social Network

Google Plus

6 out of the top 10 posts are related to social networks.  And the majority of them talks about Google Plus tips and tools.  This is certainly not an objective truth about the social network market shares, but more due to my personal preference of writing about Google’s services and products (Google+, Chromebook, Chrome).

2011 was not the first year when social networks are invented.  It is however the year when a major market player, Google+, was released and when different social networks received major changes to the user interface and features (e.g. Facebook and Twitter).  We internet users are so eager to share, making social sites the hottest market in the IT field.

The popularity of social sharing will definitely continue to grow in 2012.  If you count the time you spend on the internet, you would find that at least half (or mroe) of the time is spent on social sites.

 

You Like Chrome Themes?  I Give You More.

Megan Fox Google Chrome Theme

A little surprise is that 3 Chrome theme review posts got into the top 10.  I started introducing and reviewing Chrome themes to build a regular column on Sunday.  It turned out that people like giving their Chrome browser a new look once in a while.  An even greater surprise is that Japanese anime themes occupied position #3 on the top 10 list.  I was not aware of the fact that there are so many Japanese anime fans in the English world.

Chrome themes would definitely be a major topic that I’ll write more in 2012.  (BTW, the above is my favorite Chrome theme in 2011)

 

Mobile Internet Devices

Chrome OS Tablet Conceptual Design

#9 goes to Chromebook vs Android Tablet: Does Touch UI Matter?, a blog post that I compared my Chromebook and my 7″ tablet.  I am not sure how you people categorize these two kinds of machines, but I’ll take them as “mobile internet devices” (what an old school term by the way).  I said “internet” instead of “computer” because I believe most tablet uses surf the web and use apps to connect to the internet (Facebook, YouTube, emailing…).  Chromebook is certainly even more web-centric.

To me, the reason I use Chromebook and tablet is they are fast and direct routes to the internet.  Besides, they are lightweight and not power-demanding.  Unlike my Macbook that I have to charge the battery everyday, my Chromebook could last for a week given approximately the same usage.

Obviously all IT giants know about this, so Apple has already released iPad and produced the smallest Macbook Air (only 11″).  Google is said to have their own branded android tablet this year.  Amazon also has Kindle Fire that rocked the market.

 

Summary

Cloud High Club

This is a wrap up of what my readers liked the most in 2011.  I will be writing more about these topics in Cloud High Club.  Are you one of the “social-network-Chrome-theme-mobile-internet-device”-holic?

Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet Pre-order Opened, Carry the Cloud With You Anywhere

As a Kindle user, I’m so excited to see the announcement of Kindle Fire, Amazon’s latest 7″ multi-touch color tablet.  It is slim, ultralight and most importantly, give users a shortcut to the cloud at anytime and anywhere.  The best of all, Kindle Fire is only $199, a truly bargain price for an Android tablet.

 

Amazon Silk: A Cloud-accelerated Browser on Kindle Fire

The most impressive thing about Kindle Fire is Amazon Silk, the built-in browser of this tablet.  Amazon claims that Silk is much faster than other browsers due to the support of the cloud.

Amazon Silk Browser on Kindle FireEvery time there is a page request Silk determines what tasks to be handled by the tablet and what data to be processed by the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) server, taking into consideration factors such as network status and page complexity.  And Amazon said that they had peered with major internet service providers and top web sites, so many of the web pages you browse actually has a cached copy on Amazon’s server.  This shortens the loading time of web pages.

Besides, Amazon’s server learns from billions of web sites so that it can push associated content to the tablet, without having to wait until the whole page has been loaded to determine what to download.  This again accelerates the whole loading process.

This is not the first time we see similar technologies.  For example, SKyFire is a browser that converts flash content into iPhone compatible format before pushing the content to iPhone, to make iPhone “flash-enabled”.  This is a clever design because the iPhone hardware may be incapable to process the data.

Watch this video for an in-depth (5 mins+) explanation of Silk:

 

Amazon Content with Free Cloud Storage

Kindle Fire fully utilizes the rich content pool of Amazon (the existing Instant Video and MP3).  There are over 100,000 movies and TV shows and 17 million songs users can enjoy on Kindle Fire.  Besides, Amazon released color digital publications including magazines, books and children books.

Kindle Fire Free Cloud StorageThe huge collection of content is stored on Amazon’s server for free, meaning that users can “buy” the contents without having to spent any local disk space for storage.  Only when needed the contents are streamed or downloaded to the tablet.

Again, this is not a completely new concept.  Since the first generation Kindle, Amazon keeps all books I bought online, I can delete the local copy and re-download at anytime.  Now Amazon pushes this forward to all other multimedia content.

And with the Whispersync technology, Amazon keeps track of your reading and watching progress.  If you finished playing 25 minutes of a TV show, when you switch on Kindle Fire, it plays from the 26th minute onward.  This is a truly remarkable design that brings convenience to users.

 

Summary:  The Cloud on Hand

Cloud High Club is not a gadget blog, I’ll leave the many other attractive features of Kindle Fire to you to explore on Amazon.  I simply want to point out that Amazon truly “invented” a product that effectively integrates the cloud with a tablet.  Not to mention the rich multimedia content that Amazon brings.

Why?  Although there are many tablets (iOS and Android) out there, that all “connect” to the internet.  On the other hand, I have the impression that Kindle Fire is built to “utilize” the net.  It’s like a simple terminal that delivers the best of the internet contents to users.  To a certain extent this matches the belief behind Chromebooks.  And Kindle Fire is slim (0/45″ or 11.4mm thick) and light (14.6 ounces or 413 grams).  It truly makes the cloud portable while enjoyable.

If you are a heavy web user who enjoys watching and listening to multimedia content, reading books and games, Kindle Fire is a must-have tablet.  Of course, it’s not a truly Android tablet, since the OS is custom-tweaked to run Amazon Apps only.  Perhaps users would soon find out that Fire could be “androidized” as easily as for Nook.  But even running the stock OS, I could see huge potential of Kindle Fire being a killer cloud-centric tablet.

Buy one or check out more at ==> Amazon

Kindle Fire at $199 only

 

 

Chromebook vs Android Tablet: Does Touch UI Matter?

Enjoy this article?  This blog regularly updates on Chromebook news and reviews.  SUBSCRIBE to RSS feed or email updates to get more!

A few days ago Chrome Story shared some screenshots of a Chrome touch UI compiled by François Beaufort.  I made a follow-up report, introducing another touch implementation for Chrome created by a Taiwanese programmer, penk.

Chromebook & Android Tablet - A Comparison

Since the announcement of the Chromebook project, people have been asking why Google produced two operation systems with (possibly) overlapping markets?  If Android is so wonderful and mature, then why Chrome OS (or vice versa)?  If Android tablets are designed to be a convenient mobile computing device, would Chromebooks running Chrome OS ever have the chance to win (or survive)?

For customers, all we want to know is which of them is better.  I want to find out the answer, so I carried out a 7-day experiment of comparing a Chromebook and an Android tablets, side by side.  I tried using both to do my ordinary computing tasks on the go, in the office and at home.  We’ll see if anyone could beat the other, and how customers should choose among them.

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