Saturday, November 28, 2009

Motorola Droid voice dialing & bluetooth (not)

I'm really disappointed in voice dialing and bluetooth support on the Motorola Droid.

I had a Motorola Razr for the last two years and had a great experience with tan inexpensive Motorola H505 bluetooth headset for hands free voice dialing. To place a call I could simply turn on the headset, and press the call button on the headset. It would give a voice prompt, "Say a command." To which my usual reply was "call home" or "call 111 222 3456". The system would then reply, "did you say call _blank_?" with the _blank_ filled in with my request, and the target number was correctly recognized most of the time.

Here is my initial experience with the voice dialer in a nutshell:

In three days of playing around, I don't think I've once gotten the voice dialer to recognize the contact I'm trying to call. I've tried speaking both names and numbers with the same results, neither works. Here is a video clip I recorded, you be the judge.

Bluetooth integration is another big disappointment. I was able to get the headset to pair with the phone, but I couldn't get it to do anything. Turns out that you need to press the bluetooth button which comes up on screen after you make the call from the handset, and then press the call button to get audio on the headset. Receiving a call with the blue tooth headset sort of works. The headset provides a ring, If I press the call button on the headset while the call is ringing, the call connects to the phone, but not to the headset. I have to press the bluetooth key on the call display and press the call button again to hear audio in the headset. I can end the call with the call buton from the headset. (at least something works....) Kind of defeats the purpose of hands free doesn't it?

I wonder if Motorola/Verizon/and Google will be hit with a rash of liability suits based on people crashing their cars while driving using this "so called" hands free option.

Here is a direct quote from the Motorola support site on Bluetooth and Voice Dialing with the new Android. (last update Nov. 23)

More about Bluetooth Voice Dialing

  • Droid supports one-touch voice dialing and full Bluetooth voice conversations.
  • It does not support hands-free dialing via Bluetooth, and Motorola is aware that it does not.
  • On Droid, you can answer a call or initiate the 'last dialed call' by pressing and holding the call button on your Bluetooth headset.
  • Voice dialing cannot be initiated from a headset; you must turn it on from the phone.

Will there be an update?

  • We are currently evaluating possible solutions for providing voice dialing over Bluetooth. The plan for Android phones is to continue to improve the consumer experience through software updates.
  • Some owners have found applications that meet their needs in the Applications Market. Though Motorola does not recommend or support specific third-party solutions, you may want to regularly check the new apps offered in the Android Market for additional dialing options.
I thought I would be writing high praise for this new "toy." Don't get me wrong, there is some really cool stuff on the Android, but it has a very long way to go in terms of maturity. I'm not usually a bleeding edge technology adopter, but I'm trying to embrace change.

Unofficial Droid Forums

Copy & Paste on Motorola Droid A855 - menu key icon doesn't match documentation

The Verizon Droid Quick Tips and Tricks guide appears to use an older menu icon than was used on the released model. The menu key icon shown below in an excerpt from the documentation (four squares in a 2x2 grid, with the upper left filled) appears to have been replaced by four horizontal lines, the top one being slightly longer suggesting a drop down list.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Still Giving Thanks... Peter Gomes interview on NPR's Here & Now

my Dad carving the turkey- Nov 26, 2009

Yesterday, while driving to Plymouth, for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, we heard a terrific interview on NPR's Here and Now with Peter Gomes, a well known Baptist preacher and Harvard professor, who like me, grew up in Plymouth. He was the first African-American member of the Pilgrim Society and the Old Colony Club. Gomes got involved with the Pilgrim Society from a young age, despite warnings from his father that the pilgrims were not his people and they don't really like you. One of the best moments of the interview is Rev. Gomes' description of being questioned by president of the Pilgrim Society, Ellis W. Brewster, while working a summer job at the Pilgrim Society front desk. "Are you a member of the Pilgrim Society?" Brewster asked. "No Sir," Gomes replied, expecting to be fired on the spot. "Well we can't have non-members working here," said Brewster reaching into his pocket and handing Gomes a life membership in the Pilgrim Society, which Brewster had signed himself. Gomes went on to become president of the Pilgrim Society which he has been involved with for over 40 years.

Here and Now host, Robin Young and Gomes discussed the parallels between the Pilgrim's escape from oppression, crossing the ocean, entering into the promised land and the Moses story described by Bruce Feiler in his book, America’s Prophet Moses and the American Story. This is a universal human story of escaping oppression, being faithful to God, seeking the promised land, which has many parallels in history including the underground railroad, and the civil rights struggle. Ironically, Moses never actually entered the promised land. The Pilgrims were more fortunate. Although I grew up in Plymouth, and thought I was familiar with pilgrim history, I found this interpretation facsinating.

I get choked up by the Thanksgiving re-broadcast of Robin Young's visit with her now-late uncle, Lachlan McLachlyn Field, to see the migrating snow geese at the Dead Creek refuge in Addison, Vermont. Although we've heard this interveiw each Thanksgiving for many years, I'll never tire of it. Robin's Uncle Lach passed away in 2004 at the age of 91.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Motorola Droid... Day 1 first thoughts

I got a Motorola Droid from Verizon today. I wanted mobile email and web access and looked at the iPhone, but we have better coverage where I live from Verizon than AT&T, so I went with the Droid.

I didn't have much time to play with it, but I tried out the Navigator. It worked pretty well, although just after I got in the car, I got a notification GPS signal lost. It took a few minutes to recover from that. The spoken directions were clear enough, although not quite as clear as VJ's Garmin Nuvi. It made corrections as appropriate when I didn't follow the route. The GPS navigation mode runs down the battery, and I didn't buy the car charger because I thought my Motorola USB auto charger would work with it but the micro USB connector is half again as thin as the mini pug. I see Motorola has a Mini to Micro USB adapter cable for less than $2, but I'll have to find a better deal on shipping. I had to wait in a waiting room for a little while, and it was very cool to be able to hop online with the wireless web.

Dell Mobile is offering an attractive price on the Droid ($119.99 with a 2 year contract). However, I got mine from Verizon, because I have a family plan with 3 lines. The "new every 2" credit from my old Verizon plan made it almost the same price, and it was a lot less complicated to just deal with Verizon instead of Verizon & Dell. I've been shopping for phones for several weeks. We found out recently that VJ is eligible for an employee discount, that makes Verizon more attractive than my employee discount with AT&T.

I was most disappointed when the sales guy said he couldn't print out the total for the plan until after the contract was signed... until I insisted that we weren't signing anything until seeing the total, then he found a way.

My first impression with the Verizon "Droid" leather case/belt clip MOTA855CAS which says right on the box, "fits Droid by Motorola" was underwhelming when I figured out that the micro USB charger plug is half covered by the spine of the case, so you can't leave it in the case while charging the battery (which looks like it could be often with the Droid). I think I'll be taking back the case when I find something better.

More later on the user experience, and how my fat fingers are adapting to the keyboard(s)

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pricing & Licensing Roundtable at ProductCamp Boston Nov 2009

I spent a great day at the Microsoft R&D Center in Cambridge on Saturday, Nov. 9 collaborating informally with about 150 product managers and marketing professionals at ProductCamp Boston. This was the 2nd ProductCamp event in Boston, and another huge success.

I organized a session on Software Pricing & Licensing. I want to thank Jim Geisman founder of Software Pricing Partners, and Amy Konary Research Director at IDC for providing their expert perspective. About 15 people participated in the Pricing & Licensing session, and 11 expressed an interest in setting up a local online networking group as a place to gather and collaborate further. (
I've been asked by the BPMA board to do this within the general forum while membership on our new online community builds up - once that reaches a critical mass, we'll split it out into a separate subgroup.)

You can download the slides from my session here in pdf format. The slides include links to some good pricing books and online resources.

my favorite highlights of the day at ProductCamp include:
Steve Johnson's Keynote on managing your career using the Pragmatic Framework

John Monsour's (of Zig Zag Marketing) session: How Product Mgmt. & Product Mktg. Can Drive Company, Market & Product Strategy.
Alan Armstrong (of eigenworks) session: Credibility and Authority for Product Management & Product Marketing: Practical steps. Alan has a great tag line: "NAIL IT THEN SCALE IT".

My Flickr photoset from the day is here.

I want to extend a big Thank-You to Brooks Rutledge for his extraordinary dedication, effort, and leadership in organizing this event which provides a huge value to participants. Also, thanks to the ProductCamp Sponsors for making the day possible.