Last week I ordered and received a Nokia N9 smartphone. You can’t buy them in stores in the UK as Nokia has since decided to go with the ‘Windows Phone’ mobile operating system.
This has led to some interesting reviews:
Essentially, they all say that the phone is gorgeous, both in terms of hardware and the swipe-based MeeGo operating system.
The Nokia Ovi store contains very few apps as Nokia has effectively abandoned the platform (although they are supporting it until 2015).
That hasn’t stopped me getting two significant updates to the phone in the short time I’ve had it. The latest update was awesome and included built-in DLNA streaming to devices such as my Playstation 3.
Quite why a closed app store equates to a successful mobile device is beyond me. The only two apps I’m actually missing are two you probably don’t use: Path and LastPass.
I want to credit Amber Thomas with a throwaway comment she made during our Skype conversation earlier this week. She talked of the worrying tendency of people to treat ‘platforms as standards’. Hence the title of this post. What I’ve realised is that Apple iPhone app makers love to create silos for information. It makes their apps profitable.
On the other hand, I like my workflows. And the best mechanisms for making those workflows as smooth as possible? RSS and email. Which, given Project Reclaim, is just as well. 🙂
I’ve spent a small fortune on apps for Apple devices. And to what avail? I don’t need a dedicated special ‘distraction-free’ iPad app to write well. I just need to find an environment conducive to writing and get on and write. I don’t need a fancy to-do list with heatmap colours. I need a list of things to do. Paper and pen’s working well.
The N9 has apps and accounts that are integrated into the operating system itself. The Twitter app is great and the Messages app integrates SMS, Google Talk, Skype and other instant messaging platforms:
Connecting your accounts enables you to import and export from almost any app. I added the Evernote and MeeIn (LinkedIn) functionality through the Nokia Ovi Store. It’s not completely barren.
This isn’t a review of the Nokia N9. Nor is it a post comparing it with my previous smartphone: an iPhone 4. The reason for this post is to point out a couple of things:
- To what extent do we (myself included) treat platforms as de facto ‘standards’? Is that healthy? Is it sustainable?
- To what extent does our tool use affect how we see the world? Do we need to change the tools we use to see the world in a new light? If so, how often?
Finally, the change has made me think about web apps. Cross-platform, browser-based HTML5 applications. Why don’t companies go down that route? Well, perhaps because anecdotal research shows that people only tend to look in app stores rather than on the Web for such apps. And second there’s the issue of monetisation. There’s money in those iOS and Android hills.
I can’t help but think, however, that initiatives such as Mozilla’s completely Web-based operating system Boot to Gecko (B2G) will lead to greater cross-platform compatibility. As the fortunes of large companies such as BlackBerry, Microsoft, Nokia and Apple wax and wane, so too will the desire of consumers to lock themselves into one ecosystem. I don’t want to have to re-purchase all of my apps just because I buy a new mobile device.
The future is more democratic. The future is more open.
Last week I explained why I returned the Dell Streak I purchased on a 24-month contract. In this post I explain why I bought another yesterday on a device-only deal.
1. It’s more fun.
You can customise pretty much everything with the Android operating system. You have to resort to shenanigans to customise your message tone on the iPhone, whereas it’s trivial to get some great sounds on the Streak. There’s widgets and weird and wonderful stuff. 🙂
2. The screen is just gorgeous.
Granted, I haven’t seen the screen on the iPhone 4 in the flesh, but the Dell Streak’s screen is so… well, touchable. The high-resolution screen is backed up by an extremely fast processor and enough memory to make flicking between apps easy.
3. The contract was part of the problem
Who wants the same phone after two years? I’m planning to wait until the earliest opportunity to get my Dell Streak unlocked and then go on an Orange SIM-only contract. Why Orange? It’s the only network that offers 3G where I live and my broadband is flaky due to our semi-rural location.
4. I’m online more than I talk
The default orientation of the Dell Streak’s screen is landscape. And that’s because it’s meant to be held like a PSP most of the time. It’s thin enough not to be heavy but substantial enough to feel solid in your hands. I like that.
5. The camera
The combination of large, hi-res screen, 5-megapixel camera and in-device editing functions feels luxurious, it really does.
There’s an active community for the Dell Streak over at http://streak.modaco.com and you should read this Techradar review which is both comprehensive and fair! 😀
CC BY-NC spengy
I remember fondly my first ‘proper’ watch: a digital Casio black-and-blue affair with a stopwatch. It was awesome. When I got older and a bit more style-conscious I requested a Seiko Kinetic for my 18th birthday. The Kinetic range had just come out and seduced me into thinking I’d never need to replace the battery in it. They were right, I didn’t. Instead, within two years the whole drive mechanism needed changing at a price not far away from the original purchase price of the whole watch. You never buy version one of anything, trust me. For my 21st birthday I received (at my request) another Seiko that looked very similar but used a good old battery. That’s the one I’ve still got but, as of January 1st, 2010, no longer wear.
I was at university when I got that watch, in my third and final year. During that year I had a lecturer for one of my Philosophy modules who would whip out his Sony Ericsson T68i every so often to look at the screen whilst he was lecturing. At the time I thought this was incredibly rude: how dare he be checking to see if he had any text messages whilst lecturing?! 😮
Later I became the proud owner of a T68i. It dawned on me that my lecturer didn’t wear a watch and, because the phone has the time in big, bold numbers as a screensaver, he had been merely checking what time it was so he didn’t run over. I forgave him post-hoc. 😉
I’m always a bit worried about getting RSI, and so began to take my watch off automatically upon sitting down at my Macbook Pro after I noticing that taking my watch off whilst using it made my right wrist ache less.* But then I started to think… When I’m using my Macbook the time is displayed at the top-right of the screen; when I’ve got my iPhone on me (pretty much always) it displays the time on the lockscreen. Why am I wearing a watch at all?
The nail in the coffin for my watch, now cutting a forlorn figure on the kitchen table, was an article in WIRED magazine (to which I now subscribe). It too laughed at watches as an anachronism. Why on earth, it asked, when the time is all around us – including on personal devices that we carry everywhere – do we insist on wearing something that can only single-task? That was it, I decided I’d be watch-less in 2010.
Since then, I’ve found how liberating not knowing exactly what time it is can be. Yes, it’s necessary sometimes (when teaching, for example) but when in and around the house it certainly leads to more Flow experiences. And that’s a good thing. 😀
How about you? What else do we do or wear that could be considered anachronistic in this day-and-age?
* Yes, I (used to) wear my watch on my right wrist. No, I’m not left-handed. And no, I don’t know why I (used to) do this. I just always have done. :-s