In my preparation for the BlogHer conference (which was awesome!), I wanted to put together several ways to share my contact information with the people I would meet. I have traditional paper business cards, of course. But since I’m a digital geek girl, I also poked into my contact card on my phone and looked into ways I could share it. I assumed that there would be an easy, straightforward way to do this. Sadly for us all, I was wrong.
Sharing contact information via a smartphone is one of those things that many people assume is a basic, standard task. Going all the way back to the days of Palm Pilot supremacy and the rise of BlackBerry, the ability to “beam” your info to another person was a nice and expected perk of having a mobile, business-focused device. I remember that the process didn’t always work on the first try, but it was there and was easy.
Fast forward to now. Last week I went into my Android phone’s contacts, found my contact card, hit the Menu button and tapped “Send My Contact Info.” The menu that came up informed me that I could send via MMS, Mail, or Bluetooth. You might think: oh, that sounds reasonable. Let me explain why it’s not.
MMS is multimedia text messaging; thus, I’d send my contact info as a vCard attachment to an SMS. Not all phones/services support MMS. I use Google Voice for texting. It does not support MMS. So I can’t use that.
The Mail option is what I wanted… except Mail does not indicate the Gmail app, it indicates the Mail app for non-Gmail accounts. I don’t have any accounts set up there because I use Gmail on my Android phone. In order to send via my Gmail account, I would have to set up that account in the Mail app then set it to not notify me when messages come in because Gmail is already doing so. Convoluted? Yes.
Bluetooth is what people meant by “beaming” in the past, but connecting to another phone via Bluetooth isn’t always straightforward. Try doing it in a conference hallway when you’re on the way to the next panel and the person you want to send to doesn’t know how the Bluetooth works on their phone. Not ideal.
So really, my phone offered little in the way of easy or viable options. Why?
The heart of the problem lies with Android. Apparently, there is no native option for sending contact or vCard data in the OS at all. How is my phone able to do so? It’s all down to the HTC Sense user interface skin. Android skins do more than just change the way icons look and offer fancy widgets, they also provide deep interface functions which are sometimes fixes for things Android doesn’t provide.
Who should I shake my fist at more, Android for not having a native contact sharing function or HTC for not realizing people might want to share contacts via their Gmail accounts? I’m inclined to be a little angrier at HTC.
That’s because I also happen to have a Samsung phone. I don’t use it as a phone, only as a MID/PDA. It connects to Wi-Fi just fine, so I could send my contact info from that device. I checked, and lo Samsung’s TouchWiz UI does realize that users might want to send via Gmail and offers that option. My problem is solved.
That doesn’t solve the overall issue though, does it? It also doesn’t help if I’m not near a free Wi-Fi signal. And my HTC phone is my main device; I want to be able to share from there. That’s when I started to look for alternatives.
I’ll share what I found so far in another post. Right now I’d like to know: how do you share digital contact information from your phone? Is it easier on iOS or webOS? Have you found the perfect app for the purpose? Let me know in the comments.
- This is what I gleaned via research and appears to be true at least up until Android 2.2. Some forum threads suggest that this function is available in Gingerbread (2.3), but I have not had a chance to check this myself. [↩]
Thank you for taking away the only Yahoo service that I actually use every day besides Flickr. I’m sure you’ll get around to killing that, too. It means I no longer have to spend any time dealing with your horrible web services.
I use Delicious as an extension of my brain. As a journalist, as a blogger, as a person who lives on the web, Delicious is the best way to keep track of all the data I need from the Internet. Being able to easily share links with others in a service that keeps all such links organized and neat (not just the news feed style of Twitter and Facebook, where links disappear after a few weeks), and having links shared with me is so valuable. Being able to access all my bookmarks (and search through them) from anywhere is so valuable. Everything about Delicious is valuable. This cannot be said about any other Yahoo service (again, besides Flickr). Mail is a joke, Google News has a better layout, your mishmash homepage is a travesty, and most people ditched Yahoo Groups long ago for Google.
It galls me that Yahoo made a habit of buying up small web companies only to then let them languish and finally dissolve them, leaving the users scrambling for something else. My entire digital experience with Yahoo has been nothing but disappointment from end to end for years, but now you’ve earned my seething hatred. Because, once again, I need to scramble to find a new service to replace what already worked for me. I have to export all of my links, hoping that the tags and other metadta remain intact. It will take hours of work between research and migration. All thanks to you.
So thank you, Yahoo, for proving to me forcefully how completely irrelevant you are to the Internet. Though Carol Bartz claims that people outside of New York and Silicon Valley like Yahoo, I doubt that’s even as minutely true today as it was before this utter crap you pulled on your users. I look forward to the day when Bing eats you alive.
Since the likes of Motorola, LG, and even Palm seem to have a hard time conceiving of tiny keyboard keys that don’t suck, I’m going to offer you a bit of advice. Go out, right now, and buy a Peek. Yes, a Peek. That device that lets you send emails and text messages and tweets but doesn’t make calls. Many people laughed at such a device (which goes back to my Friday rant…) but even if you think its limited purpose is dumb, you can’t argue that it has a great keyboard.
Rubber (or rubber-like) keys, good size, excellent response. When you type on the Peek’s keyboard you get a little bit of pushback, but not stiffness. And it makes a satisfying click noise as well as tactile feedback. It works whether you use the pad of your thumbs or the tip of your fingernails. It’s one of the best keyboards I’ve ever encountered on a handheld device.
Major cell phone manufacturers, why can’t you do this? Seriously. I am asking. You do so well in other areas. the Droid is a beautiful little phone, but the keyboard makes me cry. The LG Expo is better, but the layout causes me cramps. And the Droid 2? If these pictures are of the final keyboard, I don’t even want to see this phone. Hard plastic, pillowed keys are not good for those of us with fingernails, which is half the population (if not a bit more).
Go, now, and talk to the Peek people. Learn at their feet. Take however long you need. I’ll be here with the HTC Evo 4G suffering the Android auto-correct.
I hesitate to even make this post, lest it should activate sleeping evil elsewhere, but this is something that’s been annoying me for a while. I was just reading SlashGear’s post on the Archos 13 ultraportable and amongst the things they’re not pleased about is the lack of HDMI port. This is something Laptop Mag dings devices for, too. And it drives me up the wall. Because not everyone has a television that accepts HDMI input. What I miss is the S-Video port, which everyone seems to have abandoned.
Remember back in February when people were busy crowing about the fact that some study claimed two-thirds of Americans had an HDTV and those who didn’t were likely to buy one soon? I didn’t believe the study, and I was happy to see someone else disagreeing with it, too. The main reason why I didn’t believe that study is simply that HDTVs are expensive. Yes, plenty of people buy crap they don’t need simply because it’s newer, bigger, better. But plenty of people –especially now — aren’t buying crap they don’t need if their current device works perfectly fine.
You can still get non HDTVs with big screens for less money. And people who have cable or satellite are still doing fine with their older models. The people who buy new laptops or phones or other media devices are not automatically the people who buy HDTVs. I’m not. I have no reason to. Except none of these damned devices will output with anything but HDMI, therefore I can’t use them with my TV. That’s just wonderful.
How many tech journalists and bloggers consider this? I haven’t seen many do so. I’ve seen so many journalists write off technology because they think it’s not useful when compared to better stuff, but they’re not taking into account that not everyone can afford new, expensive things all the time. Like MP3 players. How many times have I heard: “well, you don’t need one because you can play music on your phone.” Hello! Some phones. Not all. And can I point out that the non-smartphone market is way, way bigger than the smartphone market? And that smartphones don’t tend to have as much memory as MP3 players? And that not every device is made for the over-connected, spendthrift adult?
I realize that the view from the tech world is that everyone has, should have, wants, or should want the newest, bestest things. Not everyone does and not everyone can afford them. And thus the magazines and blogs and sites we produce end up just catering to a narrow audience who, by the way, is overly filled with the kind of jerks that populate the Gizmodo comment threads and not, say, thoughtful consumers who have to take a wider range of factors into consideration, including price and need.
It’s getting to the point where every time I hear someone mention the lack of HDMI a a negative or any other similar sentiment I want to shake them by the collar. Which is not good and professional behavior. So, I won’t do it. But still. Stop it, people.
- Research Rants points out that non-tech savvy people probably don’t understand that just because the TV station tells them that they’re broadcasting in HD that doesn’t mean they actually have an HD set. This strikes me as very possible. [↩]
- In the end I just use my desktop, which has a handy S-Video port. Yes, if I want to output audio I have to run a separate cable. Um, who cares? it’s not as if cables are like creeping death or something. [↩]
Today Walt Mosspuppet (who is, by the way, my favorite puppet journalist of all time) posted the following about the Apple tablet:
According to a poll over at MacMost.com, what most people want out of the upcoming iSlate is to be able to read books. My god, you people think so small.
I must say: the puppet is right. Seriously, people? You’re going to use the tablet mainly for reading? What do you do with your computers all day, play 8-bit Tetris? Dear Gozer.
Anyway, go read Mosspuppet because he’s far funner about all this than I am. I’m too appalled at how unimaginative the people who took that poll are to be witty today.
I’m putting together a list of netbooks and notebooks that would be good to give to kids ranging from 7 – 14 as a “first laptop”. I have several netbooks designed for kids on my list, but wanted to ask the parents out there: what laptops or netbooks have you bought for or allowed your kids to use? Any models or brands you’d particularly suggest to other parents looking for a durable yet inexpensive computer for their kid?
My boss just passed along the link to the commercial below for Intuit Websites, a company that aims to help small businesses build websites right! Watch the short commercial and see if you can spot what’s wrong with Intuit’s approach:
Can’t see it yet? Then I’ll tell you: services that give the impression that it’s a good idea to build a business website using templates are lying to you. That’s right, lying. Universal template-based websites are rarely a good idea for anyone, and certainly not businesses.
You run the risk of your website looking just like a ton of other people’s but with slightly different colors or a different picture in the corner. Plus, I’ve rarely come across a template service like that which results in good-looking websites. They claim they’ll make the site building process easier, but easy too often means so simple that you might as well use MS Frontpage for all the good it will do you.
Not all small businesses have the money to hire fancy web design firms and it’s true that the president’s nephew probably isn’t the best way to go. But do not make the mistake of thinking that those are your only two options. There are tons of independent and freelance designers who will not charge you as much as a firm yet will still do a good job. If you’re really, really in a budget crunch, a college student studying design will do you better than a template site.
So please, whenever you see a commercial such as the one above: run away. Run away screaming. Because sites like that may seam easy and a good deal but it is all a horrible lie.
- This is different from websites that use WordPress templates. Though you do want to make sure your WP doesn’t look like everyone else’s, you can still use a template made by someone else and tweak. The kind of templates I’m talking about are generally for non-dynamic sites. And sites shouldn’t be non-dynamic, anyway. [↩]
K. T. Bradford
If code is poetry, then CSS is The Iliad. In the original Greek.
I write about and review mobile technology, which means I get to spend the day steeped in laptops, smartphones, tablets, eReaders, and other things that go beep. Lest you question my status as a ChicGeek, I'll proudly claim an unabashed love for netbooks, Linux, science fiction, and curly hair products. You can find my new reviews and articles on Digital Trends and Techlicious.com.