Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What's on my phone/more adventures beyond the browser

Mobile web 2.0 more adventures beyond the browser
This post is a follow up to this entry on flickr, where I looked at the applications I was using most in November.

There's something about my N70 which means that over time the phone runs slower and slower, and strange behaviours start to creep in. The phone slowed to pretty much unusable levels when my memory card corrupted earlier this year, so I backed up my phonebook using zyb.com's free synchronisation service, downloaded the Nokia software installer and updated the phone's firmware. Some of the built-in applications seem to have changed with the move to the latest build- the music player is better, for example- but mostly it's neutral. My biggest annoyance, switching between browsing and bookmarks in Opera, is still very slow, taking between 1 and 30 seconds.

Armed with a half-gig memory card, I started re-loading applications:

Star players:

Lifeblogger. The best I can find for uploading photos to flickr, but the version I have now needs manual intervention to import new photos.

ZoneTag. Still out there and still in prototype, Yahoo's very own minimal-click flickr uploader which location-tags your photos. Re-installed to see if it's improved, but not getting much use as it's still not reliable enough for my phone, and only allows uploads immediately after the picture has been taken.

Google Mail. This wouldn't load last time round, but loaded fine and works a treat. There's no messing about with setting up the phone's built-in email client, most attachments are readable without a translator and you have virtually all the functionality gmail offers at your fingertips.

PulsePaper. Reloaded without second thoughts, PulsePaper continues update my wallpaper with a stream of 'interesting' photos from Flickr.

        Fring. A 'know your enemy' experiment in understanding the mobile VoIP experience! Fring is a Nokia-only app which interworks with Skype, GoogleTalk and MSN messenger for VoIP and IM. VoIP seems to work pretty well, but I get more than enough minutes for free as part of my contract so I don't need VoIP for national calling. IM works well, but hasn't displaced texting either.

        I'm rapidly approaching 40, and maybe I'm a little old to be part of the IM generation. It's hard to beat the usability of the phone system for voice and text- sure it has its shortcomings, but you can call or text anyone on a single number, in the knowledge that you'll get through. With its multitude of different networks and standards, VoIP/IM won't get a real foothold until everybody's mobile has a VOIP/IM aggregator to allow all combinations of VoIP/IM networks to be used on the same device.

        Screenshot for Symbian 2.45. A freeware screenshot app for Symbian phones, works fine and saves to jpeg or png formats, trouble free and easy to use.

        Left on the bench at kick-off:

        Google maps. A previous favourite for route-finding and looking at satellite photos, just won't install for me this time round, giving 'not enough memory' errors when I try to install it on the memory card which still has loads of spare space.

        Free transfer to the Sunday league:

        Widsets. Nice interface, lacked click-through from headline titles to the feed's website so ultimately useless.

        Wish list:

        I haven't exhaustively searched for candidates to fill these needs, but I have found that there are many useful-looking symbian apps which won't work on my N70. I'm too tight-fisted to actually buy software without a long, free evaluation trial. In an ideal world, all these apps will autostart when I turn the phone on, and will be robust enough to cope with handovers between GSM and 3G during data transfer and in standby)

        • RSS reader. A real, fully functional RSS reader that allows me to easily add feeds, and preferably has an opera add-in. (Yes, I know mini-opera does this, but my phone chokes on mini opera)
        • Podcast receiver. Similar requierments to the RSS reader (in fact one app that does both functions would be good)
        • Better Flickr photo uploader- something with the tagging and location functionality of ZoneTag, but the ease of use and flexibility of LifeBlooger, coupled with automatic map placement on Flickr.
        • Fix for my Gmaps install problem.
        • A way of synchonising mine and my wife's diary and contacts info from 2 separate outlook accounts (one corporate, one on a home pc)
        • A new phone with a better camera, flash and macro.

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