Two weeks on Android

I’m now two weeks into exploring Android and wanted to share some more thoughts on my experience thus far. The quick summary: it’s different. Not bad, not good, just different.

Having become so used to iOS and iPhones over the last 6 years, it took some time to unlearn a lot of the small things that became second nature: the home button. The silent toggle. Removing apps by holding down and watching them quiver before you delete. However, I realize that I’ve gotten used to the device a lot faster than I expected. Horace Dediu has done some great work looking at the adoption rate of consumer technologies over time. I wonder what the consumer ‘got used to the technology’ rate over time would be. Going in, I thought I would be so sick of Android by this point that I would get myself the 5s for Christmas. It turns out that it works just fine. In my view all the complaining about how Android is inferior, while probably true in the past, is now largely going to be about how it is different (but even then, not that much).

The home screen on my Android
The second screen on my Android…folders for days!

Things I have liked:

  • Installing apps to my device from Play Store via my desktop browser: Easy, clean and seamless. It just works. I wouldn’t even have thought to do this on my iPhone. The fact that any Apple App Store link clicked in a desktop browser opens iTunes immediately makes downloading it via the iPhone easier. Not necessarily true for Android
  • Deep linking into apps: New to Kit Kat, the deep linking from Google search into specific apps is very clean and nicely implemented (OpenTable has done the best job so far). I look forward to more apps starting to integrate this into their builds. It got me thinking about micro apps and what the app economy looks like over time (I’ll save that for another post)
  • Easier to connect: Being able to open up a contact and send a text or call through a plethora of services (WhatsApp, SMS, Viber, FB Messenger…the list goes on) straight from their contact card is great. It makes connecting with people about the individual instead of the app, and not having to switch between apps to decide what tool I want to use eliminates unnecessary headache

Pains of the switch:

  • Turning off iMessage has turned out to be more of a pain than I imagined. A number of friends with iPhones have mentioned how texts haven’t gone through, even after choosing to ‘Send as text message’. Why Apple’s servers haven’t registered that I no longer received iMessages and sent that to everyone with my number in their phone is confusing to me
  • No Android version: While most of the applications I use on a day to day basis are available for android, there are some that aren’t available (the ones I was getting used to before I switch that aren’t on Android being Refresh and QuizUp). Both say they are building for Android but still TBD as to release dates
  • Sluggish apps: Apps feel a touch slower on my device than they did on my iPhone (most notably Uber) which is frustrating at times and affects the overall experience, causing me to be frustrated with the companies building the apps as opposed to the phone/OS itself

Other thoughts:

  • Google applications are a lot zippier on Android (expected) but I wish they were more integrated. It would be great to get an email from a new sender and be able to create a contact from that, for example, and yet that isn’t possible without copy-pasting into the address book
  • iEverything: The apps I miss the most are iBooks (I had a lot of content purchased through Apple), iMessage and FindMyFriends (great for family and friends). I’ve found replacements but none that offer as clean an experience
  • I’m still in the process of exploring new apps and Android resources. Please leave your favorite Android apps (preferably Android only) and sites you like in the comments!

Exploring mobile: switching to Android

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After 5 years on iOS and a lifetime of Apple fanboyism, I’m making the switch to Android. Everyone I’ve told has asked me why (especially those who have converted to Apple products as a result of my essentially forcing them to…). My simple reason: I have never experienced Android as a user. Every day I come across posts written about the growth of Android and the continued market share increase. I’ve thought through the implications of cheap, high quality devices that are bringing people online for the first time ever. I’ve read how Android is the operating system for everything from tablets to robots, with the latest version of the OS is designed to support even more non-smartphone devices. I’ve seen Samsung plaster Indonesian highways with billboards for the latest Android devices the same way Apple colors 101 in the Bay Area. I’ve discussed why, for all the market share, developers don’t make as much on Android, users don’t shop as much and it remains a fragmented ecosystem which is hard to develop for. But, with all the reading and all the discussions, seeing all the marketing and thinking through the implications, I have never felt any of these first hand, only truly knowing one side of the story. I believe we are still stretching our legs when it comes to mobile and it’s full potential, so why not try a different pair of shoes on for size?

As far as devices go, I ended up picking the Nexus 5. While it has been argued that Nexus isn’t real Android, it came preinstalled with KitKat and is supposed to be among the best devices so I went with it. In advance of setting up my phone I made sure to turn off iMessage on my Apple devices. This apparently leads to missed texts so I would encourage anyone making the switch to turn off iMessage a few days in advance of the change just to be safe. The setup process is pretty simple (I did have to get a micro sim from AT&T since the iPhone 5 uses a nano) and we were off.

A few early thoughts:

Likes:
– Speed and screen: The phone is super quick and the larger screen in 1080p makes everything look awesome
– Typing: The Swype keyboard makes typing pretty enjoyable and is easy to pick up
– Google Now: Very slick on an Android

Dislikes:
– Tap to top: Unlike on iOS there is no ‘tap to get to the top’ feature in apps. Having been conditioned to tap instead of scroll, this is extremely frustrating
– Difference in apps: While a large majority of my daily use apps are available in the Play Store, the subtle difference in design with a few has proven to be annoying
– Notification bubbles: Non-standard as part of Android
– Phone size: The screen is great but the device isn’t as ergonomic as an iPhone. Harder to wield with one hand than I would have expected.

Key takeaway: Unlearn iOS…

Day one and a half of Android is in the books. I’ll post periodically with thoughts, and hopefully can last into at least the New Year without caving and going back to iOS. If anyone has suggestions for Android only apps or tips / tricks on Android please let me know!

Fundraising: A Dating Game

Late last month I gave a talk on fundraising to the Startup Chile community in Santiago. I offered some high level thoughts and tips I have gathered around raising money based on my time in venture. Folks have asked me to share the slides, so I wanted to post them here. It is the basis of a (roughly) thirty minute long presentation, with Q&A.

Say thank you

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This post originally appeared on Medium.

As a VC (and by most accounts, more social than the average individual) I meet a lot of people in a wide variety of contexts. Maintaining relationships is challenging in itself, and when meeting so many people at a time, it can feel even more daunting. One small action that has had tremendous impact for me is simply saying “Thank you.”

For me, sending a follow up email is not exclusive to meetings or interactions that end in action items and work product. An email that contains a simple thank you is quite powerful and goes a long way in building a lasting connection. It offers an additional touch point between two people, doubles the number of interactions between you and another individual, and adds to the foundation of the relationship. It offers feedback to the person and, at the very least, shows them you enjoyed meeting and appreciated their time.

Receiving thanks, according to Harvard Professor Francesca Gino in her book Sidetracked, also creates a ‘gratitude effect’. She says receiving gratitude “makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people, too.” By sending a quick thank you note you’re not only building more positive goodwill towards yourself with the person you emailed, you’re also help other people they interact with!

Now, it’s easy to forget to write a personal note, especially with all the seemingly more pressing tasks to accomplish. I fight the urge to ‘take care of it later’ by making it regimented and scheduled. I find 30 minutes in the morning to think about the day before. I look back at my calendar and think about who I met, what I learned and how I felt. I try to remember specific comments or thoughts (the ones I can recall the day after are usually the best and most valuable) during our conversation that I can reference in my note and then, whether it’s for something as simple as a great conversation or for extremely helpful advice and feedback I say, “Thank you”.

150 Days with the Nike+ Fuelband

I’ve been consistently using the Nike+ Fuelband for 150 days now. 5 months, 600k fuel points and a lot of “Is that the Fuelband? What do you think?”’s later, I figured I might as well write about it.

First, the stats. According to my Nike+ dashboard, in the last 150 days I have:
– Earned 601,130 Nike Fuelpoints
– Taken 1,866,967 steps (which translates to 913 miles)
– Burned 233,078 calories
– Reached my goal of 3,000 fuel points 110 of the 150 days

The numbers and statistics are well and good (compared to the Nike+ Community, I’m considered to be pretty active). However, while I am tempted to geek out with the data, my primary use for the Fuelband is to answer one simple question: Have I been active today? If I haven’t moved enough in a day, either spending too much time sitting in front of my monitor or in the car, nothing serves as a better “time to get off your ass” reminder than pressing the button on the Fuelband and seeing it flash 561 at 4pm. If my Fuel is low I’ll try and go for a walk, order carry out instead of delivery or make another trip to the gym. While I’m not always successful, recognition is an important step on the way to changing negative habits.

An interesting point to note is the idea of the “fuel point”. Developed by the creative team at Nike, it’s a completely arbitrary concept. Calories burned and steps taken are also data points measured by the Fuelband but the focus is on Fuel points. a great move by the Nike team. They are creating a new measure which is slowing entering the vernacular, and not allowing people to be distracted or influenced by preconceived notions about calories or distance is a good way to differentiate the product.

As an accessory, the Fuelband is also relatively clean and lightweight. Having tried both the Fitbit and the Jawbone UP, I thought neither worked as well as the Fuelband as they were both missing some key elements for me. Having only one button on the device makes the Fuelband extremely easy to use. The realtime display that is not hidden in your pocket, but in plain sight on your wrist, also gives me the chance to get immediate feedback and act accordingly. It is slightly bulky, but I got used to having it on after a while and now notice when I’m not wearing it. Bluetooth sync is terrific and I usually sync every night, if only to see this guy pop up on the screen. The idea of a minor victory as a motivator has proven powerful, at least for me. While it may not be as meaningful as having a marathon to train for or a game to play in, the subtlety allows more people to participate and make everyone an athlete, Nike’s ultimate goal.

It’s not hard to see where the technology can go. Over time as a more accurate products develop (those that knows the difference between a running motion and a golf swing…talk about a way to #juiceyourfuel), which include a heart rate monitor, and later even giving users information about what should be done to improve, people will have an enormous amount of data on themselves and their performance. It will then be up to the user to decide how to respond to the information. I look forward to challenge!

Technology, venture and random ramblings

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