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Consider this your official heads up about these cool notification apps.

I also really need to stop UI-hacking my Android but it’s just so much damn fun. New toy: I found a widget program that let’s you write your own little apps on the device using a custom language to access all the system data. Amazing. Reminds me of when I used to compete in ResExcellence contests for having the most mod’ed Mac OS.

11 Android Apps to Make Notifications More Interesting

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We mean it’s literally a fake security app: the only thing that it does is change from an “X” image to a “check” image after a single tap. That’s it. That’s all there is, there isn’t any more.

New #1 paid app in Google Play store is a total scam” via Android Police.

Open is great until folks fall for a $4 scam like this. Thankfully it does nothing harmful but its a bit scary how quickly it was able to skyrocket to #1.

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Outside calls or cold calls will come with a “conversation request,” where the caller pitches the receiver on why he or she should answer and invest their time.

Why Voice is the Next Big Wave” via GigaOM 

Great article that talks about how and why voice is here to stay – and will become a primary way of interacting with technology in the next phase of wearable computing.

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We have too much fear of Apple. The approval cycle alone stifles your creativity.

http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2014/04/features/how-whatsapp-beat-facebook/viewall

Great article on WhatsApp and it’s refreshingly singular focus on a simple user experience, and how their entire development process is built to support it. It also talks about their complex relationship with Apple and shares how the inclusiveness of the App Store hurts their ability to innovate.

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It’s the longer term view that is more worrying. Once a manufacturer is on board with an Android Wear device there is every chance they will be restricted to Android Wear for any ‘wearable’ that they release, or they lose Android support across the range – the same deal as the Open Handset Alliance with Google Play. That leaves Google in the driving seat for this new-found market.

This Is How Google Can Dominate The Smartwatch Industry For Years To Come” via Forbes

Just like an new hardware platform, wearables will benefit from a decent level of hardware standardization to encourage early adopters (both consumers and developers).  

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Most of the smartphones sold last year in China, or 57%, were Android devices that cost less than $350. But there is still strong demand for more expensive handsets. High-end smartphones priced above $500 accounted for 27% of smartphones sold last year; of that amount, 80% were iPhones.

China Now Has 700M Active Smartphone Users” via TechCrunch

“China became the world’s largest smartphone market in November 2011, but sales have gradually slowed as mobile penetration rates increase. Shipments decreased for the first time in more than two years at the end of 2013, according to a recent report from IDC. As the price of smartphones drop dramatically, however, more first-time users are buying their first device.”

Taking the plunge…

I really, really didn’t want to. And it’s basically a trial run right now. But I had to switch to using Gmail for my personal email.

For the last five years my personal email site and email (www.michaelaffronti.com) has been running on Office 365. I have always loved it for a few main reasons:

(1) You get to run Outlook and OWA against it.

(2) Working at a company that uses the Office 365 stack for work (Microsoft) made it easy to do side-by-side things like overlay Work and Personal calendars.

(3) Windows Phone + Office 365 is the best way to do email and calendaring.

Since leaving Microsoft and joining Contactive I’ve had to take a very large technology plunge and immerse myself in the world of Macs, Google Apps, and my shiny new Android phone.

Why doesn’t Office 365 fit well with my new technology life?

(1) Office 365 email on Android sucks: no Conversation view in the native client and bad syncing (I’ve had two emails in my inbox that I can’t delete stuck there since December).

(2) No overlays: It’s way easier to overlay another Gmail calendar, in this case my Personal into my Work view, than trying to get my Office 365 calendar viewed in Gmail. 

After only three days I already miss a lot from Office 365: the UX and awesomeness of Outlook Web App, all the cool features that I love (and in some cases helped build) in Outlook 2013 like flagging, custom actions, and the calendar, and the general idea of staying within a single stack (I still love and use OneDrive, XBox Live, etc.).

I’m currently redirecting my email from Office 365 to my personal Gmail account. Like I said, it’s a trial. Seamless email and calendaring is critical for me (as with most folks) and so far the gains are outweighing the pains (and losses) of switching. 

I’ll update my feedback periodically as things progress.