Announcing The 2011 Crunchies Finalists And Tickets On Sale Now

Crunchie Award photo by Susan Hobbs

The nominations have been tabulated and the votes are in. Over 300,000 nominations were calculated across 20 categories. Along with our partners GigaOm and VentureBeat, we are very proud to announce the finalists for 2011′s best in technology. Voting begins now.

For 2011, we’ve added some new categories. Best Location App, Best Cloud Services and Biggest Social Impact join the Crunchies ranks this year. You’ll also find Best Social App, the NYC-dominated category of Best Shopping App, Best New Startup and the year’s best VC’s and Angel Investors. Newcomers like TaskRabbit’s Leah Busque and Keith Rabois for his angel investments (Airbnb, LinkedIn, Yammer, Path, YouTube) made the list of finalists, as well as industry favorites such as Marc Andreessen, Jack Dorsey, Mark Pincus and Ron Conway.

There are some pretty good match-ups this year. Google+ is up against Facebook Timeline for Best Social App, along with the New New Twitter, Instagram, and Path 2.0). The Kindle Fire is competing with the iPad 2 for Best New Device. And Pinterest, Turntable.fm, Nest, Fab, and Codecademy are all vying for Best New Startup (even though two of those were complete pivots). LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman is up for Angel of the Year. His seed investment in Zynga is worth 160 times what he paid for it. But AngelList founders Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi are also finalists in the category for helping to democratize angel investing, along with Conway, Rabois, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham, and Kevin Rose (who has a killer portfolio that includes Twitter, Foursquare, Zynga, and Square). Who will win?

Everyone is eligible and encouraged to vote. The rules state that you may vote once per day, per award category, until voting closes on Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 11:59pm PST. There are 20 award categories open for voting, recognizing the top accomplishments across a variety of fields and roles. If you are one of the finalists, create a badge and get your community excited about this honor and get them to vote for you. Winners will be announced on January 31, live at the Crunchies.

In addition to today’s announcement of the Finalists, we are happy to release our next batch of tickets through Eventbrite. The release begins now, so act fast and get them while you can.

Here are your Finalists:

Best Technology Achievement (2010 winner: Google Self Driving Cars)
Lytro
NFC
OnLive
Siri
Tesla Flat Pack Battery

Best Social Application (2010 winner: DailyBooth)
Facebook Timeline
Instagram
Google+
The New New Twitter
Path 2.0

Best Shopping Application (2010 winner: Groupon)
Birchbox
Fab
Gilt Groupe
Lot18
Warby Parker

Best Mobile Application (2010 winner: Google Mobile Maps for Android)
Evernote
Flipboard
Pandora
Spotify
Square
TaskRabbit

Best Location Application (New category for 2011)
Airbnb
Foursquare
Grindr
RunKeeper
Uber

Best Tablet Application (2010 winner: Flipboard)
djay
Eventbrite At the Door
Fotopedia
GarageBand
Netflix
StumbleUpon

Best Design (2010 winner: gogobot)
Gojee
Orchestra
Path 2.0
Pinterest
Quora

Best Bootstrapped Startup (2010 winner: addmired)
Github
Imgur
Instapaper
Onesheet
Tap Tap Tap (Camera+)

Best Cloud Service (New category for 2011)
Asana
Box
CloudFlare
Dropbox
Okta
Twilio

Best International Startup (2010 winner: Viki)
Badoo
Klarna
Peixe Urbano
Rovio
SoundCloud
Wonga

Best Clean Tech Startup (2010 winner: SolarCity)
Alta Energy
Array Power
EcoATM
EcoMotors
Hara

Best New Device (2010 winner: iPad)
Galaxy Nexus
iPad 2
iPhone 4S
Kindle Fire
Nest

Best Time Sink (2010 winner: Cityville)
Modern Warfare 3
Quora
Skyrim
Turntable.fm
Words With Friends

Biggest Social Impact (New category for 2011)
Charity: Water
Khan Academy
Kickstarter
Practice Fusion
Twitter

Angel of the Year (2010 winner: Paul Graham)
Ron Conway
Paul Graham
Reid Hoffman
Keith Rabois
Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi (AngelList)
Kevin Rose

VC of the Year (2010 winner: Yuri Milner)
Marc Andreessen & Ben Horowitz
Matt Cohler
Vinod Khosla
Aileen Lee
Yuri Milner
David Sze

Founder of the Year (2010 winner: Mark Pincus)
Leah Busque (Task Rabbit)
Brian Chesky (Airbnb)
Jack Dorsey (Square, Twitter)
Susan Feldman & Ali Pincus (One Kings Lane)
Drew Houston (Dropbox)

CEO of the Year (2010 winner: Andrew Mason)
Dick Costolo (Twitter)
Daniel Ek (Spotify)
Phil Libin (Evernote)
Mark Pincus (Zynga)
Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn)

Best New Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Quora)
Codecademy
Fab
Nest
Pinterest
Turntable.fm

Best Overall Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Twitter)
Dropbox
Instagram
Gilt Groupe
Spotify
Square
Tumblr

5th Annual Crunchies Awards
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA

7:30pm – midnight – Awards Ceremony and After Party
A night of celebration with festive attire.

Our sponsors help make the Crunchies happen, if you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities during the ceremony or after-party, please contact Jeanne Logozzo at jeanne@techcrunch.com.

For press credentials, please fill out this request form and confirmations will be sent separately via email.


Announcing The 2011 Crunchies Finalists And Tickets On Sale Now

Crunchie Award photo by Susan Hobbs

The nominations have been tabulated and the votes are in. Over 300,000 nominations were calculated across 20 categories. Along with our partners GigaOm and VentureBeat, we are very proud to announce the finalists for 2011′s best in technology. Voting begins now.

For 2011, we’ve added some new categories. Best Location App, Best Cloud Services and Biggest Social Impact join the Crunchies ranks this year. You’ll also find Best Social App, the NYC-dominated category of Best Shopping App, Best New Startup and the year’s best VC’s and Angel Investors. Newcomers like TaskRabbit’s Leah Busque and Keith Rabois for his angel investments (Airbnb, LinkedIn, Yammer, Path, YouTube) made the list of finalists, as well as industry favorites such as Marc Andreessen, Jack Dorsey, Mark Pincus and Ron Conway.

There are some pretty good match-ups this year. Google+ is up against Facebook Timeline for Best Social App, along with the New New Twitter, Instagram, and Path 2.0). The Kindle Fire is competing with the iPad 2 for Best New Device. And Pinterest, Turntable.fm, Nest, Fab, and Codecademy are all vying for Best New Startup (even though two of those were complete pivots). LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman is up for Angel of the Year. His seed investment in Zynga is worth 160 times what he paid for it. But AngelList founders Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi are also finalists in the category for helping to democratize angel investing, along with Conway, Rabois, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham, and Kevin Rose (who has a killer portfolio that includes Twitter, Foursquare, Zynga, and Square). Who will win?

Everyone is eligible and encouraged to vote. The rules state that you may vote once per day, per award category, until voting closes on Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 11:59pm PST. There are 20 award categories open for voting, recognizing the top accomplishments across a variety of fields and roles. If you are one of the finalists, create a badge and get your community excited about this honor and get them to vote for you. Winners will be announced on January 31, live at the Crunchies.

In addition to today’s announcement of the Finalists, we are happy to release our next batch of tickets through Eventbrite. The release begins now, so act fast and get them while you can.

Here are your Finalists:

Best Technology Achievement (2010 winner: Google Self Driving Cars)
Lytro
NFC
OnLive
Siri
Tesla Flat Pack Battery

Best Social Application (2010 winner: DailyBooth)
Facebook Timeline
Instagram
Google+
The New New Twitter
Path 2.0

Best Shopping Application (2010 winner: Groupon)
Birchbox
Fab
Gilt Groupe
Lot18
Warby Parker

Best Mobile Application (2010 winner: Google Mobile Maps for Android)
Evernote
Flipboard
Pandora
Spotify
Square
TaskRabbit

Best Location Application (New category for 2011)
Airbnb
Foursquare
Grindr
RunKeeper
Uber

Best Tablet Application (2010 winner: Flipboard)
djay
Eventbrite At the Door
Fotopedia
GarageBand
Netflix
StumbleUpon

Best Design (2010 winner: gogobot)
Gojee
Orchestra
Path 2.0
Pinterest
Quora

Best Bootstrapped Startup (2010 winner: addmired)
Github
Imgur
Instapaper
Onesheet
Tap Tap Tap (Camera+)

Best Cloud Service (New category for 2011)
Asana
Box
CloudFlare
Dropbox
Okta
Twilio

Best International Startup (2010 winner: Viki)
Badoo
Klarna
Peixe Urbano
Rovio
SoundCloud
Wonga

Best Clean Tech Startup (2010 winner: SolarCity)
Alta Energy
Array Power
EcoATM
EcoMotors
Hara

Best New Device (2010 winner: iPad)
Galaxy Nexus
iPad 2
iPhone 4S
Kindle Fire
Nest

Best Time Sink (2010 winner: Cityville)
Modern Warfare 3
Quora
Skyrim
Turntable.fm
Words With Friends

Biggest Social Impact (New category for 2011)
Charity: Water
Khan Academy
Kickstarter
Practice Fusion
Twitter

Angel of the Year (2010 winner: Paul Graham)
Ron Conway
Paul Graham
Reid Hoffman
Keith Rabois
Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi (AngelList)
Kevin Rose

VC of the Year (2010 winner: Yuri Milner)
Marc Andreessen & Ben Horowitz
Matt Cohler
Vinod Khosla
Aileen Lee
Yuri Milner
David Sze

Founder of the Year (2010 winner: Mark Pincus)
Leah Busque (Task Rabbit)
Brian Chesky (Airbnb)
Jack Dorsey (Square, Twitter)
Susan Feldman & Ali Pincus (One Kings Lane)
Drew Houston (Dropbox)

CEO of the Year (2010 winner: Andrew Mason)
Dick Costolo (Twitter)
Daniel Ek (Spotify)
Phil Libin (Evernote)
Mark Pincus (Zynga)
Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn)

Best New Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Quora)
Codecademy
Fab
Nest
Pinterest
Turntable.fm

Best Overall Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Twitter)
Dropbox
Instagram
Gilt Groupe
Spotify
Square
Tumblr

5th Annual Crunchies Awards
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA

7:30pm – midnight – Awards Ceremony and After Party
A night of celebration with festive attire.

Our sponsors help make the Crunchies happen, if you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities during the ceremony or after-party, please contact Jeanne Logozzo at jeanne@techcrunch.com.

For press credentials, please fill out this request form and confirmations will be sent separately via email.


An iPhone Lover’s Take On The Galaxy Nexus

1

You have to hand it to Google. They know that I prefer Apple products and have been generally critical of many Google moves in the past couple of years. And yet, they’re unafraid to give me their newest products to test out. To be honest, I’m not sure Apple would do the same. But I think this is a smart move on Google’s part. On one hand, they may get a negative review but they know that many will discount the negativity coming from me. On the flip side, if it’s positive: gravy train time.

Thus: my thoughts on the Galaxy Nexus. But before I begin…

Rather than do a full-on review — you’ve probably already seen plenty of those — and given that I now write an Apple-centric column for TechCrunch, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to continue my “An iPhone Lover’s Take…” series. For some background, here are my previous stories from the same angle on the Nexus One, the HTC EVO 4G, the Nexus S, a Windows Phone, and even the iPhone 4.

My colleague Jason Kincaid took a similar approach for a post a few weeks back, but did it from a slightly different angle — call it: An Original iPhone Lover Who Learned To Love Android Until Switching Back To The iPhone… Reviews The Galaxy Nexus. Oddly, he just had just switched back to the iPhone after years of Android use — but he says the Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich in particular may get him to switch back yet again. Meanwhile, GigaOm’s Darrell Etherington also looked at the Galaxy Nexus from an iPhone user’s perspective and ultimately decided the iPhone 4S was still the device for him. So I’m here to break the tie.

I’ve been using an iPhone since the day the first one launched in 2007. It is without question my favorite and most-used gadget of all time. Over that same span, I’ve tried about a dozen different Android devices ranging from the G1 to the Nexus S — the results have been decidedly mixed. I pretty much hated the G1, generally liked the Nexus One, thought the EVO 4G was more or less crap, and basically enjoyed the Nexus S. But none, in my mind, could touch the iPhone.

So what about the Galaxy Nexus?

I was given the device shortly before I took off for Europe a couple weeks ago. Given that it’s unlocked and I got a 3G SIM, I’ve been using it a lot — just as much as I’ve used any of the other Android devices listed above. For a few nights, it has been my primary device when I’ve been out and about. Unfortunately, I have not been able to test any sort of 4G network with it, so consider all of this a Galaxy Nexus 3G review.

First and foremost, the Galaxy Nexus is way too big. The 4.65-inch screen is nice when I’m sitting on my couch, but out and about it feels like I’m Zack Morris holding his Gordon Gekko phone. I’d consider myself to have average sized hands for an adult male, and the screen is so large that it killed several one-handed operations for me (especially since many Android apps use a top nav system). I’ll admit that for some apps, like Gmail, having a screen larger than the iPhone’s 3.5-inch variety is very nice. But 4.3-inch may be better. This is just too big.

While the screen is too big, I am happy that Google has finally decided to get rid of hardware menu buttons and go all-in on the screen. Previous Android hardware was always made worse by the decision to include fixed nav buttons along the button. With Ice Cream Sandwich, all these buttons can now be software-based. There isn’t even a home hardware button like the iPhone has anymore — it’s all software.

I like this. The iPhone home button wears down over time and it makes noise when you click it. (Of course, the Galaxy Nexus still has a wake/power button of the right side.) I hope Apple does something more inventive with the button if they choose to keep it in future iPhone hardware iterations. Perhaps a multi-touch top on the button that allows you to swipe between open iOS apps would make the continuation of the physical button worth it.

I also like the inclusion of an indicator light on the Galaxy Nexus. Both the Galaxy Nexus and iPhone have options to vibrate or give you audio cues to alert you to new messages, but if the phone isn’t on me, I often miss those. The light allows you to see if you have new message waiting without having to turn the screen on. This is one of the few things BlackBerry got right that Apple for whatever reason hasn’t bothered to mimic.

The rest of the Galaxy Nexus hardware leaves something to be desired. The iPhone feels like a completely and thoughtfully designed object. By comparison, the Galaxy Nexus still feels rather cheap and plastic-y. It’s not awful, but you’d think Samsung could do better at this point. Some people will like having the option to remove to the back to get at the battery, but the method for doing so remains a joke. You essentially have to rip it off. I feel like I’m peeling a nail away from a finger every time I do it — it’s that unpleasant.

The battery life itself on the device is very good. I felt like the Galaxy Nexus was lasting at least as long as the iPhone 4S on a fully charged battery, perhaps even a bit longer if some cases. Again, I didn’t try it on a 4G network, which is known to drain battery quicker. (I also haven’t had the battery discharge issues that some iPhone 4S users have been reporting since the launch.) But fear not, this is not the EVO with its temper-melting 30-minute battery.

The camera on the Galaxy Nexus is definitely worse than the iPhone 4S, both in megapixels (8 vs. 5), and in image quality. But the iPhone 4S is also a ridiculously good camera. The Galaxy Nexus is still a fine point-and-shoot replacement, in my opinion. The camera seems better than any other Android device I’ve used. One nit is that while there is a method to go right into the camera from the lock screen (just like iOS 5 has), it’s too slow if the camera isn’t previously running. You’ll hit the camera button and watch as the Android main screen loads and then the camera apps loads. This feels like more of a macro than a feature.

And let’s talk about Ice Cream Sandwich. The artist also known as Android 4.0 is very solid. There is no question that the software is much improved over previous iterations in terms of speed, but mainly usability. I really like things like the multi-task tray and some of the new widgets.

Unfortunately, the system still lacks much of the fine polish that iOS users enjoy. The majority of Android users will probably think such criticism is bullshit, but that has always been the case. I imagine it’s probably hard for a Mercedes owner to describe to a Honda owner how attention to detail makes their driving experience better when both machines get them from point A to point B. As a Honda owner myself, I’m not sure I would buy it — I’d have to experience it to understand it, I imagine. And most Android lovers are not going to spend enough time with iOS to fully appreciate the differences.

Still, if the Android team ever wants to convert (or at least convince) most iOS users, they still have quite a bit of work to do here. Then again, they probably don’t (or shouldn’t) care too much about converting iOS users over to Android. All the non-smartphone users out there remain the much bigger prize to go after (for both Google and Apple).

Other things that will sound like nits but drove me crazy with ICS included the constant focusing on text fields only to have to click again to get the keyboard to pop up. If I’m in a text field, I clearly want to type something. Why should I have to click again? This doesn’t always happen, but it happens a lot — particularly in third-party apps.

Another: why is there a separate app for Messaging and Google+ Messenger? Apple baked iMessage into their SMS app, why didn’t Google? If they’re worried about anti-competitive concerns, why would they bundle all the Google+ stuff into ICS to begin with? Similarly, why do Gmail and Email continue to be two separate apps? And why on Earth is the web browser not Chrome yet!?

The new People app social unification is nice — I love the big pictures. But my god Google needs help with their duplication/merging detection. One of my friends has four separate entries — one for his phone number, one for his Gmail/Google+, one for Twitter, and one for another email. Several others had three different entries. Most had at least two. Also, Google provides an option to link your Facebook account in Accounts & sync, but it does nothing. I’m sure this is due to the Google/Facebook fracas, but why include something in your OS that is completely broken?

Ice Cream Sandwich’s voice command functionality is a joke compared to Siri — but that may be changing soon, we’ll see.

In his write-up, Jason noted that iOS is still far behind Android when it comes to notifications, I have to disagree. I find Android’s notification tray to be far less useful than it is on iOS. For example, if I get three new emails, with Android, I just see that I have three new emails all grouped together. With iOS I can see at least some of the context. Same with Tweets. The size of the alerts in this tray also isn’t uniform in Android, so Facebook alerts seem more important with their huge logo.

I do like the ability to “clear all” in Android’s notification tray though. The iOS micro clear button remains a joke that badly needs to be fixed.

When it comes to web browsers, arguably the most important feature on any of these devices, there is no question that iOS still has a big edge here. I’ve seen arguments on both sides for why one is faster than the other — most recently, data today favors iOS — but just doing a simple use case test, mobile Safari kicks the ass of Google’s don’t-call-it-Chrome mobile web browser across the board. Some pages still refuse to render correctly on Android’s browser. And the ones that do cannot seem to get the simplest feature right: double-tap to zoom. You do it on Android and there’s a good chance you could end up looking at the middle of a random paragraph.

You’ll also still see a bit of lag in ICS when you do seemingly simple things like this. It’s still not as smooth as it should be. For the most part, ICS fixes many of Android’s performance issues, but there are plenty of times that you’ll still see stutters here and there.

And then there are the apps.

To be fair to Google, Ice Cream Sandwich is currently only on the Galaxy Nexus and it still hasn’t even officially launched in the U.S. But there’s a lot of work to do here. One app that I had on my Nexus S constantly crashes now on the Galaxy Nexus. And rather than quietly closing in the background, I get a nice big Windows-style pop-up that it has stopped running. Many other apps look fairly bad on the larger screen simply because they’re not optimized for it — again, something a wider release of ICS will hopefully fix.

The main problem I have with Android apps on the Galaxy Nexus/ICS remains the ones that are also available on iOS. When the apps exist on both platforms, it’s easy to compare them and the iOS version almost always wins — and often by a landslide. Take the latest version of Twitter, for example. It was just updated to run on both. On iOS it’s smooth, on ICS, there is noticeable stutter when scrolling. It’s much worse on Facebook Messenger and Facebook itself — no big deal, only the biggest app on both platforms.

The reason for the app differences between the two platforms remains a hot topic of debate. Again, all I know is what I see: app to app, iOS still easily beats Android in most cases. One counter-example, which I talked about on stage at LeWeb last week, is SoundTracking. I actually think their app is better on Android. But that has less to do with performance, and more to do with the fact that it can access hooks that iOS doesn’t offer, like background Spotify integration. Android developers should focus more on these benefits of Android and less on making their apps exact ports of their iOS ones. Something always seems to get lost in translation — often badly lost.

Now it just sounds like I’m focusing on the negative. It’s important to emphasize the fact that the Galaxy Nexus is without a doubt the best phone I’ve ever used that’s not an iPhone. And there is no question that it does certain things better than an iPhone — namely all of the Google apps and any third-party background/OS integration beyond Twitter, which is now baked into iOS 5. Google has also managed to just about match Apple in app quantity. This is all good — competition is good.

The next step that Google needs to take (or to help third party developers take) involves around app quality. Put simply: they need to create better tools for developers to use in order to take advantage of the strengths ICS offers. This won’t happen in 6 months, but it can happen if Google works at it.

After that, it’s the intangibles where iOS holds the huge advantage. And just like in sports, it’s not clear how well you can “teach” those. At some point, Google may simply have to acknowledge that iOS looks and feels better than Android because Apple’s entire fabric is woven with design, tight integration, and attention to detail. Google’s strengths are elsewhere; they should embrace that.

Google has done some very nice work here. Both the Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich are a new pinnacle of the Android platform. But in the end, it still comes down to something very simple: which device do I want to use day-to-day? Which phone do I reach for when I’m not doing a review? It’s still the iPhone. Without question.

Keep at it, Google.


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