Tagged: shozu

I Finally Got An iPhone

Yes, just before Christ­mas I was able to grab a 3G iPhone and since then I am using it as my pri­mary mobile phone.

iPhone Applications
iPhone Appli­ca­tions

I think that pretty much eev­ery­thing has been writ­ten on the pros and cons of this device and I sim­ply want to tell my own per­sonal experience.

First of all it is worth to say that I usu­ally bring with me two devices. A Black­Berry bold that I use mainly to keep me in touch with my busi­ness inbox and another mobile phone for voice call, tex­ting, etc. Def­i­nitely I am not the typ­i­cal user. I do not really need any access to my cor­po­rate stuff since there is the Black­Berry for that purpose.

I have now spent sev­eral weeks with the iPhone and I have to say that I am really impressed and I think I will keep it as my pri­mary phone for at least some months.

There are only a few fea­tures that are impor­tant to me and that are not present today:

  • Cut and Paste between applications.
  • The abil­ity to for­ward an SMS.
  • The abil­ity to send a con­tact as a vcard using an SMS.

Actu­ally these are things that have been there for ages and they are quite sim­ple to imple­ment from a tech­nol­ogy stand­point. I do not really see why they are miss­ing on this high end device.

Apart from this I am really happy with.

I have installed a bunch of appli­ca­tions, and I have actu­ally spent a good amount of money on the AppStore.

Cur­rently there are the appli­ca­tions I have on it:

  • Shozu
  • iXpen­seIt
  • X-​Plane
  • Tum­ble Pro
  • Face­book
  • SyncML
  • Now Play­ing
  • CoolIris
  • Stanza
  • Mobile­Files
  • Google Earth
  • Frotz
  • Rogue
  • Sead­ragon
  • Shazam
  • Net­NewsWire
  • Twit­te­la­tor
  • Nambu
  • VNC Lite
  • LinkedIn
  • Word­Press
  • AccuWeather
  • 1Password

Yes, it is a quite long appli­ca­tion list but there are actu­ally three or four appli­ca­tions that makes me not even turn my Per­sonal Com­puter on while at home.

  • Nambu. A fan­tas­tic Twit­ter and Friend­Feed client. I am def­i­nitely addicted to these two ser­vices and I love to browse these two ser­vices with my iPhone. I also love Twit­te­la­tor but it sup­ports Twit­ter only.
  • Stanza. Fan­tas­tic e-​book reader. I found myself read­ing a bunch of free e-​books dur­ing the hol­i­days and I have to admit that even if I was skep­ti­cal about e-​book on iPhone, Stanza proved to be very usable and enjoy­able. Def­i­nitely some­thing to have.
  • Face­book. A lit­tle bit less addicted to this but quite use­ful when I am hit­ting the road.
  • VNC Lite.
  • SyncML. I use this to sync my con­tacts to any 3rd party SyncML provider out there. Actu­ally Zyb is still my favourite.
  • Net­NewsWire. Not a per­fect user expe­ri­ence in mobil­ity but still valu­able to look at your news feeds.

While using the iPhone I still some incon­sis­ten­cies in the User Inte­farce in native Apple appli­ca­tions but this is def­i­nitely some­thing I can live with.

I was very impressed by the loca­tion ser­vices. Fast and accurate.

I did not test any of the push tech­nol­ogy since I do not really need them since I am using my Black­Berry Bold for this purpose.

I also found myself play­ing a few games on the device and even if I had some con­cerns on the usabil­ity I have to say that the iPhone may def­i­nitely be con­sid­ered as a gam­ing plat­form. I was a great fan of X-​Plane, the best of breed flight sim­u­la­tor on Mac OS X, and see­ing it run on this device was absolutely amazing.

A short anec­tode. I left my phone on the table and it was grabbed by my two years old son. I found him sit­ting on the sofa play­ing with his favourite appli­ca­tion, Sounds of the Jun­gle. I was think­ing it had been my wife to unlock the phone and launch the appli­ca­tion. I asked my wife and I ws sur­prised to hear that she had not done any­thing on the phone.

I then took the phone from my son and locked it again and I was aston­ished while look­ing at him unock­ing the device in one sim­ple touch, nav­i­gate to the tab with the Sounds of the Jun­gle appli­ca­tion and launch it. More­over the appli­ca­tion has a mall “I” icon that gives infor­ma­tions about the appli­ca­tion itself when pressed. You have to dis­miss the dia­log box before con­tin­u­ing to use the appli­ca­tion and I found that my son also found the way to dis­miss that dia­log box and go back to the application.

I under­stand that being a dig­i­tal native is some­thing but there should be also some excel­lent design in what Apple did on the iPhone.

I think I will use the iPhone as my pri­mary phone for quite a long time.

Let The Customer Choose

20071018memoryfull.jpgWhen you buy a new mobile phone you will typ­i­cally spend the very next few days try­ing to under­stand how it works, what appli­ca­tion you may use and install that set of third party appli­ca­tions that you think you may need while you are hit­ting the road.

If I look at my mobile phone right now (Nokia E61i) I have a lot of appli­ca­tions installed:

  • Jaiku
  • gMail
  • Google Maps
  • Opera Mini
  • News­ga­tor Go
  • Shozu
  • Intel­li­sync
  • Skype
  • Wid­sets
  • MSN Mes­sen­ger
  • putty
  • mIRGGI

and some other minor stuff not worth mentioning.

It really seems that when you buy a new mobile phone you go through the very same process you go through when you buy a new Per­sonal Com­puter. Take out all of the free­bies that come with it and that you do not like, and install those appli­ca­tions and util­i­ties that you need.

I think that the sim­i­lar­i­ties end here.

After hav­ing installed all of these appli­ca­tion you will need to face the prob­lem of hav­ing these pro­gram work together. Just to make a sim­ple exam­ple I can say that if I have my e-​mail push appli­ca­tion run­ning together with Jaiku (my two pre­ferred appli­ca­tions) I am not able to run any­thing else. If I want to check my gMail account I have to shut­down some­thing before launch­ing the J2ME appli­ca­tion. That’s very annoy­ing in the long run and this is the rea­son why I think that say­ing that mobile is the new Per­sonal Com­puter is not yet a reality.

I would like oper­a­tors to work with mobile phones man­u­fac­tur­ers in order to build bet­ter oper­at­ing sys­tems that will ease my mobile life. When I buy a new mobile phone I would like to go through a con­fig­u­ra­tion process that will let me choose the fla­vor of my mobile phone.

The per­fects mobile phone would:

  • allow me to make use of the idle screen accord­ing to my pri­or­i­ties. I would like to see there the infor­ma­tion that prob­a­bly I will need the most. In my case I would like to see incom­ing e-​mail mes­sages from my work account, upcom­ing appoint­ments and so on.
  • allow me to take own­er­ship of the idle screen. Dur­ing the week­end I (usu­ally) do not care about work stuff and I would like to see dif­fer­ent things there just like news or per­sonal e-​mail mes­sage. This should hap­pen with a sim­ple key press and not going through an infi­nite nav­i­ga­tion inside the mobile phone settings.
  • allow me to gather snack infor­ma­tion from the Net when I need. Putting an RSS feed on the idle thing would be a very good start. In a more gen­eral sense the idea of hav­ing cus­tomiz­able wid­gets on the idle screen just as you can have on the Mac­Book I am using to write this post. More­over I want my infor­ma­tion and not the infor­ma­tion that the oper­a­tor thinks may be inter­est­ing to me. I want to be free to choose what­ever wid­get I like and I will be prob­a­bly will­ing to pay for this.
  • allow me to easy switch from an appli­ca­tion to another. I can under­stand that the mobile does not have infi­nite resources, but instead of dis­play­ing a mes­sage say­ing “Mem­ory full” why not help the user to launch an appli­ca­tion ask­ing which appli­ca­tion he would like to close to free some mem­ory? The mobile phone should be smart enough to under­stand which appli­ca­tions are used as snacks and which appli­ca­tions are going to be used inten­sively. Launch the snack appli­ca­tion clos­ing one of the back­ground appli­ca­tions and when the snack appli­ca­tion has fin­ished its life cycle relaunch the appli­ca­tion that was terminated.
  • allow appli­ca­tion to talk to each other and col­lab­o­rate. When I am using Skype I would like to have a uni­fied con­tact list. Today I have a con­tact list for my phone, one for Skype and one for MSN Mes­sen­ger. Why? There is no point in this. Inter­process com­mu­ni­ca­tion was invented 20 years ago and I see no rea­son why it should not work with mod­ern mobile phones.
  • take away the Java Appli­ca­tion Launcher. I am a cus­tomer and I do not care if you have writ­ten a native appli­ca­tion or a Java appli­ca­tion. To me they are appli­ca­tions. That’s it. Just show them as all of the other appli­ca­tions. To me, as a cus­tomer, there should be no dif­fer­ence at all.
  • allow me to put Java appli­ca­tion in the back­ground. (Sony Eric­s­son Mobile is great at this)
  • allow me to get rid of all of these Java warn­ings about appli­ca­tion secu­rity. I know that it’s the stan­dard but it really makes the whole things unus­able. More­over it may give false infor­ma­tions to the cus­tomer. (e.g. If have sub­scribed a flat data rate plan there is no point in say­ing to the cus­tomer that the appli­ca­tion will con­sume data that may have a cost). The best solu­tion would be to add a layer to the Java appli­ca­tion that will ask to the oper­a­tor billing sys­tem if I am going to pay for that data or not. That should be quite simple.

As you can see it is a long list but it is some­thing that I think we def­i­nitely need to make the life of our cus­tomer eas­ier than today.

At the end of the day the whole thing is to let the cus­tomer be free to have the mobile phone he wants and not what we (oper­a­tors) think he would want.

Why do I blog this ? There are lot of things that we can make to help our cus­tomers. I think that it is time to start think­ing about this.

Friends Generated Content. What’s next?

20060214Apache.jpgYes­ter­day I talked about how User Gen­er­ated Con­tent will fit in the mobile ecosystem.

Today I would like to go a lit­tle bit fur­ther with some considerations.

It’s per­fectly true that you may be much more inter­ested in con­tent gen­er­ated by your friends than in con­tent gen­er­ated by unknown peo­ple. I also said that the Con­tacts appli­ca­tion on your hand­set should be the key to access that con­tent. I am truly con­vinced that this is true.

The next step that it is impor­tant to con­sider is how the con­tent is gen­er­ated and how the con­tent is shared between users.

In the last few months we have seen plenty of appli­ca­tions that allows you to share your data (audio, video, images, etc.) using dif­fer­ent web ser­vices (Shozu allows you to share you pic­tures and videos on Flickr and YouTube, Nokia image man­ager will let you upload your pho­tos on Flickr and so on.).

Those appli­ca­tions are great but their use implies that the user takes an explicit action to share that data. After he has taken a pic­ture or has shoot a video he has to upload the pic­ture or video to the web ser­vice using a third party application.

The ques­tions that need to be answered here are:

  • How many users will do that?
  • How much data lives only on the users mobile phone and will never be uploaded and shared?
  • How much money are oper­a­tors loos­ing because of data sit­ting on the mobile phone and never uploaded or shared?

I think that we need a dif­fer­ent approach to this.

The mobile phone has to be cen­ter of my mobile data. I would like other users to access directly the data sit­ting on my phone and that I have tagged as public.

The Nokia Research Cen­ter is inves­ti­gat­ing on this pos­si­bil­ity and has ported the Apache web server to Series 60. This is a great idea and I think it’s the way to go. If I take a pic­ture I can make it imme­di­ately avail­able on the web site that is being run by Apache on my mobile phone. No need to upload. It’s already there. If we took a blog approach to this I can also imag­ine that as soon as I will have shoot a pic­ture my hand­set will ping my friends to notify that I have a new photo on my mobile phone web server.

Every­thing will live on my mobile phone and it can be an exten­sion of my fixed mobile pres­ence or a mobile pres­ence by itself.
I agree on the fact there there are issues to be solved:

  • Security/​Privacy.
  • Per­for­mance issues.
  • Avail­abil­ity issues.

These are lim­i­ta­tions that need to be con­sid­ered but I think they may be eas­ily addressed by oper­a­tors and mobile phone vendors.

Why do I blog this ? The mobile phone is slowly becom­ing an active node on the inter­net. We need to be smart enough to under­stand this trend. At the end of the day I think it can be a win-​win for both the cus­tomer and the operator.