Why didn’t you buy an iPhone 4 ?

June 26, 2010

I seriously did consider buying the new iPhone 4 on the day of release.

However when I was faced with this…

I couldn’t face the idea of queuing. I also had to be somewhere else too…

I am still in two minds about buying the new iPhone now, or waiting until my contract ends.

Yes it has some great new features that I would like to see and try like the new camera; however part of me is thinking is this just because it is shiny or something new and different!

What about the reception left hander issues?

Personally I think, yes there may well be an issue, but is it really worth all the column inches that have covered this? There may be a design flaw, but all devices have design flaws, doesn’t mean they don’t work most of the time. My Google Nexus One for example, if it gets too hot (from being on for too long and doing stuff) the touchscreen stops working! My old LG Viewty kept turning itself off and the only way to turn it back on again was by removing the battery! Where was the Guardian and BBC on that issue?

Of course the iPhone is selling really really well. Some estimates say 1.5million of them have been sold. So that any flaw in the design is going to impact on a lot of people, a lot more people than the flaw in the LG Viewty! That’s probably the reason behind the column inches.

I do like that even though we have moved from analogue newspapers to online news sites, the term “column inches” still works. Thought I suspect a lot of people might think “inches” what are “inches”? Wonder what the metric or European term is for “column inches”.

Anyhow even with the reception issue, I don’t think that would stop me buying one.

I have already installed iOS4  on my iPhone 3GS and am finding it useful. I like the rotation lock. I like the quick App switching. Folders I am less keen on, but they do mean I can now see all the Apps on my iPhone, whereas before some were off the screen at the end! I like the spell checking (this is also on the iPad) and as someone who can’t spall it’s grteat! Not at all impressed with the digital zoom, but then I have never been impressed with any digital zoom. Less impressed with the home screen wallpaper, the first one I tried made the whole phone look cluttered… The Nexus One does seem to do this much better. Keyboard support may be useful in some instances, I do do a lot of writing.

So what will the iPhone 4 hardware provide that is so “essential”?

Facetime sounds great, but really we have been here before. My old Nokia N73 had a front facing camera and could do video calls over 3G. Well actually I never did do video calls, the main reason was that no one I knew did video calls, so I never had one. Also when I got the N95, I tried to call myself to just see how it worked, and it never worked! Facetime only works over wifi, if I have wifi I probably have a laptop or my iMac so I would be more likely to use Skype. Another big reason I wouldn’t use Facetime, is that very few people I would call in this way would have an iPhone 4. Like the idea, but can’t how it would benefit me at this time. Should I be buying two iPhone 4s then? No I think not.

I do like the concept of the retina display. I really like the display on the Nexus One which is sharp and looks great. The 3GS has a 480×320 resolution, the Nexus One has 800×480. The iPhone 4 has 960×640 which is to be honest incredible for the size of screen, but is not that far off the Nexus One. It would be interesting to compare all three.

I do like doing video, and though many phones I have had, can do video, none have really got there. The Nokia N95 which took great images had an okay video camera, but not fantastic.

This video was taken with the iPhone 3GS and is actually not bad, certainly much better than the N95.

If the video on the iPhone 4 is as good as the video that is been shown on the web, then I would be impressed. I also like the idea of the iMovie App. I must remember though I have ReelDirector on my iPhone, I have only used it once or twice in anger!

I do like the idea of a 5MP camera, as I do use my camera a lot on the iPhone 3GS for taking images (in the main for uploading to TwitPic). Of course 5MP is nothing new, I did the same for many years with the Nokia N95.

Of course the front facing camera on the iPhone 4 is only a 0.3MP camera like most other phones that have front facing cameras. Two 5MP cameras would have been nice…

No idea if the battery life is any better, the stats indicate it is, but I suspect that this may not reflect actual usage. 6 hours on 3G doesn’t really cut it for a full day in London at a conference and for the train home.

So at this time, I am in two minds about the iPhone 4. I think I would like one, but whether I would really like one right now, I don’t know.

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Froyo’ing – These are the droids you are looking for…

May 24, 2010

Google last week announced the release of Android 2.2.

Unlike other phones I could mention, even though the update was announced my Google Nexus One said “it was up to date”. You have to wait until the phone provider sends out the update.

In my case that’s Google…

Waiting…

Certainly won’t be waiting as long as Motorola Droid users who had to wait six months for 2.1, but still waiting…

Then on Saturday night I noticed a post on Lifehacker.

Want to try out the neat new stuff in Android 2.2, a.k.a. FroYo, but haven’t lucked into an update notification yet? Follow these instructions to download a 2.2 update, install it, and get Flash up and running.

I downloaded the zip file and following these instructions updated my  Nexus One on Sunday morning.

The first thing I wanted to do was try out the Flash player… specifically I wanted to see how BBC iPlayer would perform. My first site was BBC News and I was very pleased with how the live stream of BBC News worked on the Nexus One.

Very similar experience to the EyeTV App on the iPhone, but obviously streaming from the internet and no need for the Mac to be on. I then tried to watch a programme from the archive, the film Brazil as it happens and… well the site asked if I was old enough! And trying to zoom into the checkbox was not particularly easy. However it did work!

As did Doctor Who!

Android 2.2 does off a little more than just allow you to view Flash on the web.

Android now has Exchange support, this is a feature I have found very useful on the iPhone. Despite what you may think of Exchange, it is a service that many organisations and institutions use, so by having support on Android, it allows for Enterprise deployment of phones like the Nexus One.

You can also now use the Flash when shooting video, great for when there is little or no natural light.

The Nexus One with Android 2.2 can now be used as a portable WiFi hotspot. This is something I have been doing for some time with Joikuspot on the Nokia N95 and was one of the main things I missed from the Nexus One, missing it no longer.

This is also something that is missing from the iPhone and technically it would be able to do it…

The key improvement though of 2.2 is improved performance and I certainly have found my Nexus One to be a little more zippy and faster than before.

I would never recommend bypassing the traditional upgrade process, but when the update does come I would recommend upgrading.


e-Learning Stuff Podcast #048: It’s very warm out there

May 23, 2010

James talks about EdTech 2010, pilots, the iPad, JISC CETIS Mobile Tech Meeting, Android 2.2, Lessig Method and the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Award 2010.

With James Clay.

This is the forty-eighth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, It’s very warm out there

Download the podcast in mp3 format: It’s very warm out there

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

Shownotes


This is the age of the train…

May 15, 2010

About once or twice a month I find myself on a train travelling to some far flung exotic location, like London, Leeds or Birmingham! Though more often then not it is the First Great Western train to London.

As I travel I like to try and get some work done in the time I have available. One key aspect of my job is communication and for that I need a decent internet connection. First Great Western, unlike some other train operating companies does not provide wifi on their services.  So what is one to do?

I have over the last few years used different ways of getting online on the train, all of them though have involved 3G.

Well recent tests show, as reported by the BBC that:

Mobile broadband speeds are improving but coverage is getting more patchy, suggests a survey.

The survey was…

…carried out by analysts from comparison site Broadband Genie, the annual test involved using dongles from UK mobile operators during a long train journey.

Interestingly…

T-Mobile came out top in the tests because it racked up higher speeds and proved more reliable during the tests.

So how do I use 3G on the train and with what services?

My original way of getting online was with a 3G PC Card from Vodafone, however this went once I changed jobs back in 2006.

I then had an 3G Dongle from Vodafone. This actually worked quite well, some dropped connections, but once within a 3G area, a good speed both up and down. I did notice though that more often then not, I could not get 3G speeds and the connection dropped to GPRS speeds. The main problem with the dongle is that it sticks out and on cramped trains this can be problematic.

After getting a T-Mobile contract phone (with Walk’n’Web Plus) I was able to use the phone as a tethered Bluetooth modem to connect to the internet at 3G speeds. The main disadvantage with this process was the impact that both Bluetooth and 3G had on battery life of the phone. The upside for me was a more reliable and faster connection.

Using a Nokia N95 I was able to use JoikuSpot on the Nokia, this shares the 3G connection over WiFI. This has one key advantage JoikuSpot allows more than one device to connect. A simple idea which just works. Basically it turns my Nokia N95 into a wireless hotspot, allowing me to connect multiple wireless devices to my phone’s 3G internet connection. I start JoikuSpot and once started I can then join the wireless and surf the internet. This was really useful allowing both my laptop and an iPod touch to connect to the internet using the single 3G connection. The Light version only really does internet, it doesn’t allow e-mail or https for example, whereas the Premium version does; this is the reason I upgraded to the Premium version and very pleased I am with it. The main downside is the impact it has on the battery life on the Nokia N95, down to less than four hours, often less!

I used this process for a fair amount of time, made easier when First Great Western introduced power sockets on their trains. Swapping over to the Vodafone 3G dongle if the signal failed or was weak.

I have recently tried a couple of other options, the first was not as successful as I would have hoped and that was the MiFi.

So what’s the MiFi? A battery powered 3G wireless router. Using a 3G SIM it would connect to the internet and then allow  up to five wireless clients to connect and share that 3G connection. With a four hour battery life, could be charged via USB and about the size of a credit card. Using a SIM from a Vodafone 3G USB dongle it was very simple to set up and configure and I would recommend that you use the details from Ross Barkman’s excellent website on connection settings for GPRS/3G to save having to work out where the information is on your providers’ website.

However one of the downsides for me was that though the MiFi worked a treat in stationary location (say at a conference) it was less satisfactory when travelling by train. What seemed to happen was that when the MiFi lost its 3G connection, as does happen on a train, it would switch itself off. As a result you had to check now and again and see if it needed turning back on. This also had an impact on the WiFi connection on my Mac laptop, which even when the MiFi was back on would not re-connect back to the MiFi wireless. In the end the experience was so unsatisfactory that I stopped using the MiFi on trains as a wireless router. The nice thing about the MiFi is that it will work as a USB 3G dongle, so you can use the MiFi in your event and meeting as a wireless router and revert to the dongle mode when on the train.

I have recently switched from the Nokia N95 to the Google Nexus One that runs the Android operating system. There is no JoikuSpot for the Nexus One and I am not 100% on how or even if it is possible to use it as a Bluetooth modem. One thing I have tried is PDAnet that allows me to use the Nexus One as a tethered 3G modem.

One thing I have noticed though is that though my 3G connection from Bristol to London is pretty good, travelling on the Voyager trains from Bristol to Birmingham, the signal is really poor.

I initially thought this was just down to the route, but I have heard that the main issue is the construction of the train and the metallised windows. This basically blocks the 3G signal!

I have used various methods to get online on the train and though each have their disadvantages and advantages, I think I prefer the 3G dongle, though the wifi methods are neater.


Annoyed with Apple

April 14, 2010

I am officially annoyed with Apple.

Why?

Yes you guessed it, a further delay on the iPad.

BBC News reports:

Apple is to delay the international release of its touchscreen tablet computer, the iPad, by one month.

It will now launch the device around the world, including the UK, at the end of May, and will begin accepting pre-orders on 10 May.

…and there I was expecting to get mine at the end of April!

As I have said before on this blog:

Part of me is sad that I didn’t go out to the states and buy an iPad, and part of me knows how sad that would be!

I have also discussed how I think I will be using the iPad too.

Since the iPad was announced and launched in the US, there have been numerous alternatives announced by other manufacturers and we also have Courier from Microsoft.

These “alternatives” have many more features than the iPad. They have cameras, front and back, built in SD card slots, USB ports, they can print, they can be tethered, they can tether, etc… etc…

So why oh why am I going to get an iPad then?

Firstly it’s not about the features its about the functionality and the user interface.

Despite many valiant attempts by other phone companies, none have come close to the way the user interface on the iPhone works. I remember getting the LG Viewty and feeling very short changed by the touch screen experience compared to the iPhone. Likewise, though I do like the Google Nexus One and it has compared to other touchscreen phones a fantastic touch screen and a very intuitive user interface, however even it does not match the iPhone interface. It is for this reason that the iPad will succeed over the alternative devices been proposed or released by other manufacturers will be the touch interface that Apple have managed to excel at on the iPhone and according to the reports from the US have likewise done with the iPad.

The Apps market, though a closed market seems to have been very successful. Though history says that open standards win over closed walled gardens (think of the internet versus AOL) proprietary closed markets do win now and again. Developers like the App Store and the ease by which consumers will purchase apps from it. The reason for this is quite simple, create one account, purchase from many developers. As a consumer I don’t want to have to create accounts everytime I want to buy an app and I certainly don’t want to do this using a mobile device if I can help it. Entering credit cards on my iPhone is something I would prefer not to do, on an iPad probably wouldn’t mind so much!

So even though this further delay in the iPad has annoyed me, I think I will still be getting one when they are eventually released in the UK!

Picture source.


Unexpected barcode in the bagging area…

March 8, 2010

A fair few times on this blog I have mentioned QR Codes, even a few times I have mentioned Microsoft Tags.

Both are mobile phone barcodes that store a lot more information than your standard product barcode that you scan at the supermarket.

By encoding information into print, users (or learners) can scan into their mobile phones, information, data, URLs,

So the question you may be asking, which of these two mobile phone barcode systems you should go for?

Well sometimes it is not a matter of comparing the two systems, but asking what device do your learners have and be using.

I have been using an iPhone 3G for nearly a year now and the main issue with using the iPhone and QR Codes is the quality of the camera. Due to the fixed focus it has real issues in acquiring and reading QR Codes. Now the iPhone 3GS has a much better camera and the variable focus does allow it to focus much better on QR Codes and decode them. However I still have issues and both the 3G and 3GS don’t even come close to the scanning ability of the Nokia N95.

Having recently installed the Microsoft Tag Reader on my Google Nexus One and reading the Microsoft Tag Blog I noticed that they said they had an iPhone App.

So out of curiosity I installed and tried it with my iPhone 3G and was surprised to see that it worked very well.

Now I do have issues with some of the privacy issues relating to Microsoft’s implementation of mobile phone barcodes, but if your learners all have iPhones and specifically the lower specified iPhone 3G then using Microsoft Tags may be a real option in getting learners easy access to information and URLs.


e-Learning Stuff Podcast #035: The Google Nexus One

February 21, 2010

This is the thirty fifth e-Learning Stuff Podcast,The Google Nexus One

James Clay gives his first impressions of the Google Nexus One.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: The Google Nexus One

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

Photo source