Monthly Archives: June 2010

Gaming the game of Foursquare with “When Will I Be Mayor”

With the recent influx of actual locations offering deals for mayors, such as free or reduced drinks/appetizers/admission, Foursquare is gaining a purpose.  When Will I Be Mayor uses the public Foursquare API to help get you that coveted mayorship.

After you create an account, it prompts you to allow them to authorize them using the Foursquare API and read your stream of checkins.  From there, it will tell you how many checkins you have at a location, who the mayor is and how many more you should need to steal the title.

You can even search for a particular site if you have your eyes on being mayor there or if they are running an upcoming special.  All thanks to When Will I Be Mayor.  It was interesting to see how far behind I was in certain spots and how far ahead in others.  So using it in reverse let’s you know who is creeping up behind you as well.

I have written recently about how Foursquare has failed me, and this does not detract or add to that.  It is just a good implementation of the API to show how mayorships works inside the game known as Foursquare.

Sprint HTC EVO hands-on review and video

I took the plunge on Friday and swapped out my Blackberry Curve to the HTC EVO on Sprint.  Yes, I took a hit in battery, but picked up a phone I am finding more useful daily.  Mobilecrunch had a good article on Tips and Tricks to Extending the Battery life of the HTC EVO 4G last week .  Here is the video with extended commentary below.

Battery
Obviously the first concern everyone raises.  I went through some unofficial tests and timekeeping to see where it falls short in battery life.  Here is those results:

  • Airplane mode – everything wireless and applications off and the phone just sitting there idle.  After 16 hours I barely noticed a dip in the battery.  So Android itself is not sucking life.
  • Normal usage – on the 3G network, no wifi and normal call rate and application access/syncing.  A normal decline in battery, yet higher than the Blackberry was.  Topping it off daily will be the norm right now.  I definitely broke 12 hours, but I know it wouldn’t make a constant day, or even 6 straight hours of talk time and normal activity.
  • 4G or wifi access – I found that this and wifi were big killers of battery life as expected.  I would not expect the HTC EVO or most other smartphones to perform well under heavy usage on 4G or wifi with the tiny batteries inside.  A disclaimer must be made that St Louis does not have supported 4G everywhere yet from Sprint, so making sure it is off until it is official was key to make sure it wasn’t polling all the time for 4G.
  • Heavy application access – a lot of the battery life was the size of screen and brightness you utilize the phone in.  Lowering the brightness made a difference in the battery life on the HTV EVO 4G and gave some longer performance.  However, having it too low made the screen unreadable due to glare.  Indoors no issue.  A prime example of combining 3G and the screen was streaming any content and having the screen on long term.  Moving into just clicking and using applications was also tough on the battery and reduced the time measurably.

Physical
The size of the device itself is a distractor to me, but I am a heavy Bluetooth headset user and will focus on that instead of holding the phone to my face for any amount of time.  Android does a nice job of sensing and automatically dimming the screen when you put it next to your face though.  A cool little touch.  However, something I discovered after writing this post, but before publishing.  I am glad I heavily use Bluetooth,  The edge of the phone held to your ear actually feels quite uncomfortable.  A rounded edge there would have made so much more sense.  When you see a side picture of the phone think about that.

As much hype that was placed around the large screen, I was not prepared to carry this thing around.  There was no go holders immediately available at the store but I have one on order from Amazon that has a gel case and holster in one.  Just from the habit of being with Blackberry devices for so long I am used to the holster approach.  Everyone has been asking what holster I liked and bought, so here is the Amazon link for the Seidio Innocase Holster/Case combo (disclosure affiliate link)

Otherwise, the device was easy to manage, easy to learn to navigate and was a decent weight.

Functionality
This is a strong point.  Android made it easy.  Installing apps is a breeze from the marketplace.  Finding apps to do most every function I did before is already complete, plus a slew of new ones.  There is one or two things I wish existed that never will and a few vendors that need to catch up and make official versions.  I imagine that is not far off.

The initial sync and hook in Google was mere seconds.  Adding additional accounts took no time either.  The stream client/sync with Facebook and Twitter was nice but I knew they would be a draw on battery, so I turned those off.  I went for the marketplace Facebook and it sync’d the contacts and more with ease.

From there the simple interaction, moving items around, making shortcuts and whatever else was a breeze.  The book that comes with the HTC EVO was pretty useless on Android information.  It was all about making calls and call features.

I was able to run multiple apps at once with no obvious decrease in speed or performance.  Certain apps always took a moment longer to open, no matter what else was running.  I did not like how some applications came out when the phone started/booted.  It seems they pre-load a ton of things for no reason.  I was also unable to easily find how to uninstall a few applications that came with the phone I knew I would never use and seemed to always want to run.  The application to see and kill all running tasks (free) is a savior to increase performance and I have used it regularly.

The dual camera ability was an interesting twist.  Having a standard 8 megapixel camera is awesome and then the front facing 1.3 camera for conferencing was cool.  The other person does not need an exact phone to conference, it seems they can use the Qik web interface as well with the other person on the HTC EVO.  Very cool.  I am still not sure how useful the HDMI port will be.

Summary
You can see in the video how it handles and looks.  If the Android 2.2 update helps with any battery usage then this phone takes another leap.  I do not think at this time I will go back.  I will give it more testing and effort before a very final decision (Sprint gives you a window to bring it back) and make sure it is the right phone.

The whole crew is back for “TheSocialGeeks Episode 26 – Extra Virgin Olive Oil”

An excellent podcast recording last night for TheSocialGeeks as the entire crew was in the roundtable.  Check out the episode for yourself and make sure you subscribe via iTunes!  We cover:

  • the new Facebook security and privacy choices
  • HTC EVO
  • location services
  • and a couple random topics

All the show bookmarks are included in the show notes.  The crew included Caleb Elston, Jeff Smith, Sarah Perez, Corvida, Wayne Sutton and myself for just at one hour and some change.