Jul 172010

I spend my hang over time with my mobile, just sorting through some stuff, uninstalling unused apps, configuring etc. The Android is an awesome OS for a phone and a computer, there are only a few things I miss or I rather don’t like: the touch sense on the Xperia is a bit sloppy. It is not very accurate which gets especially annoying when typing text. The Wifi seems to turn itself off when the screen goes in sleep mode and it doesn’t come on quickly. Having Data transfer enabled it will get data via the 3G network during that time which I found out after my first phone bill. It took me some time to find how to make calls, answer calls, do texts etc – the entire phone bit is not intuitive for my liking. Ah, and it’s still Android 1.6

What I really like about the Xperia is its camera – it feels more like a camera with phone features ;) Pictures and resolution are good quality. I also like the screen, it’s clear, bright, sharp a very good contrast. And it’s huge – with the little drawback that some apps are getting stretched and look odd. And it is completely configurable, after the first week I had about 100 apps installed, a couple of home screen replacements, a couple of mail clients to test, loads of widgets – most of it I had uninstalled after a quick look.

I replaced the home screen, for that I used OpenHome Lite for a while. I eventually uninstalled it because it doesn’t support application widgets, themes were awesome but installed as separate apps. I used it for about a month. Other apps I have tried out and uninstalled after a quick look, a few clicks or a crash: aHome (pretty much the same like OpenHome), Live Home (crashed, some UI bugs), SweeterHome (looked ok), SlideScreen (not configurable and too much of an information overflow). I would want to give ADW.Launcher a try, but it supports Android from version 2.1. This as off today, an up-to-date list will be maintained here. My favorite Home screen replacement app is Home++ with a similar functionality as OpenHome plus widget support and a built in task manager :)

Some other nice little thingies:

  • Handcent SMS an iPhone like messaging application. Nice to look at it, loads of configuration options. I needed their FAQ to understand how to remove double notifications. I wish it could replace all occurrences of messages.
  • SayMyName Dessert little app which speaks out the callers name when the phone is ringing. The ring tone does not get replaced.
  • WordPress WordPress client for the android. First post is here.
  • Tricorder does what it says. Turns the Android phone into a Tricorder. How cool is that.
  • Foursquare social feature. It’s a bit the same idea as Dopplr. Check in to a place, leave a comment and see what others say about it. Foursquare has a huge user base and some interesting additional apps. Right now I only use my Foursquare feed as part of my lifestream.
  • AppBrain App Market offers a nice way to manage apps on an Android; offers sharing options. It’s basically a front end for the android market with recommendations and – what I frequently use – a Hot apps on AppBrain which shows which were the most downloaded apps in the past 7 days. Pretty similar approach is AppAware which has also lists for what people in my area have done recently, what the most installed apps on my platform are etc.
  • Opera Mini browser no machine without opera. Nothing more to say. A browser replacement.
  • 3G Watchdog allows to track how much data is being used on 3G network. Drawback is that it has to run in background otherwise it doesn’t count. On the other hand it makes managing limits etc quite easy and it comes with a nice widget. I am also looking at NetCounter which gives an overview over wifi usage and cell usage for the current month.
  • MySettings offers a quick way to enable or disable wifi, gps, airplaine mode etc.
  • K-9 Mail I use for my work mail. Pretty nice mail client.
  • I installed additional keyboards, SwiftKey Keyboard is the one to mention most, before that I used ThickButtons Keyboard; I couldn’t take much use out of Graffiti and ShapeWriter (didn’t work for me) and the Handcent Keyboard (T9 keyboard).
  • I really like Gesture Search, a tiny app which allows to draw a few letters on the screen and which delivers contacts and apps as search result. It’s pretty handy as it is faster than typing on the keyboard.
  • Speed Dial Folder pretty helpful if you don’t want to scroll through 15 screens or a long list of alphabetically sorted programs. I have configured some folders in there, speed dials, links to apps and web pages. Pretty cool.
  • Dropbox no machine without dropbox!
  • Share By QRCode another way to share information. Requires the Barcode Scanner.
  • A good addition to the Xperia’s own camera app (like a Sony camera, awesome!) is Camera 360. It allows to add some special effects like Polaroid, Tilt Shift etc.
  • Launch-X allows to create widgets with contacts and applications which contain more than 4 visible icons in one row :)

There are also a few travel tools and social network clients I am using, I am still looking for a reliable flickr client, gallery etc. So soon more on the android, and now, make sure you have the Barcode Scanner installed and get my favorite apps on your phone:

Also, I recommend to view the up-to-date version of this list

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Feb 152010

I still don’t know whether to love or hate the iPhone. Actually, I am not very emotional about it at all. I have one now… but… I suppose that’s not a good sign me not being exited about a piece of technology.

Let’s talk for a second about apps. 100.000 apps in the app store sounds impression, I wonder how much would be left if you search for useful apps only. I think any item released on the app store gets count, no matter if it is a book, a set of pictures or the 100. variation of an existing app.  When I got the phone I installed almost everything, but now after consolidating a bit there are only a few left. Besides dozens of stupid games and time wasters.

Internet & Social Networking

  • iDroid Mini Browser – I just love it. It has visual bookmarks, easy navigation and just works. Safari is kinda unhandy to me.
  • TwitPict – it is a neat feature: take a pic, upload it, comment it and share it via the usual channels.
  • Facebook – facebook application. There is no real need for it, but definitively a nice to have, such as for the other social networks like Xing, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr.
  • WordPress – A full word press editor on the iphone. Posts can be written as draft and be posted later, images can be attached, tags and categories are available. The keyboard is odd (see below) but besides from that it is a nice wordpress client I use when I am on the road.
  • iWavePushy – Push notifications when a wave got updated. The iPushy bot needs to be added to that wave. 

Travel apps

  • Trip It – it would be nice if the free application would actually show the travel time. But it doesn’t so no use for me. As I am using Dopplr I am not willing and pushed to pay a yearly subscription for the trip it service. Considering travelload being dead (or neverending beta) I think the best solution for me is Dopplr and Trip Case.
  • Dopplr – I wished Dopplr wasn’t just a travel tracker but also a bit more travel management. Besides from that I like the app it shows interesting places close by to go to.
  • Trip Case – I just found that one while I was waiting in Heathrow for my plane. Usually I have a print out with my hotel and flight details, but trip case allows me to store all these information on the phone. I can also send notifications about my plane departure and delay times to chosen recipients. So Jimmy now gets informed when my plane is more than 15 minutes late. A few things are missing, so trains and buses cannot be scheduled but besides from that it is exactly what I needed and wanted.
  • XE currency converter – I have barely used it, but it is a nice to have for traveling.

Other apps

  • Sleep Cycle – finally I found an alarm which doesn’t need to ring at 3 different times in the morning to get me up. It also helps me to realize that I needmore sleep.
  • iOutBank – developed, continental european countries – such as Germany – provide a sophisticated way of online banking. There is a protocol used by banks which allows to use certain clients for online banking. These clients most likely add some functionality such as reporting and budgeting. Sadly, one wouldn’t find any of this in Ireland. iOutBank allows me to keep an eye on all transaction on my german bank accounts.

Work only apps

  • OpenAir – this is a quite useful app if you do your expenses and timesheets with OpenAir.com. The only missing feature is that receipts cannot be attached with a photo of the bill. That would just be awesome and maybe make travel expenses less annoying.
  • Zimbra – it just sucks like any other Zimbra client. I cannot download my mails for unknown reasons. And I don’t even care to investigate.
  • Salesforce I cannot test as we haven’t enabled iPhone support. I am quite sure this is a nice to have…
  • Jira Mate – A Jira client – yeah. I wished there was somewhere a Jira I would use. I haven’t tried out the available bugzilla clients as I am too stupid to figure out the VPN settings (doh!)

Desktop applications:

  • iPhone explorer – it allows to browse the iPhone in disk mode once it is connected via USB.

WTF’s and other rants:

  • The layout of the UI cannot be changed, I cannot set a background image nor change the color scheme of the screen. It is like wearing an uniform. Why do I have to jailbreak it just to get back my individuality?
  • I cannot buy in different stores, not all applications are available everywhere. It is friggin’ odd having two accounts just to be able to download German and English applications. Half of them are not available in Germany, some other apps aren’t available on the UK/IE store. WTF?
  • I need an explanation for camera add ons. Apparently it is additional software which is invoking the cam app and maybe enhancing some features. But as soon as you use the cam from another a
    pp there is no addition at all. So what is the point? Apparently none of the standard applications can be removed or replaced. Wouldn’t it be great to set a different default browser or to be able to uninstall the weather app? If I want to know about the weather I look out of the window or I check the internet. I won’t ever use a friggin’ phone for that!
  • The typing interface / the virtual keyboard: I just don’t like it. The virtual keyboard on the P910 and a pen are way more efficient. Also, the iPhone is the first device which makes me missing the caps lock key. The reduction of the keyboard in 3 or 4 panels as well as the crappy word suggestion are just annoying. Sending texts in more than one language ends in frustration, as the word replacement happens automatically. So it just sends out bullshit or you review your text you properly typed and the iPhone scrambled into something else. The eZiTap extension for Symbian OS was way more intuitive and helpful!
  • The battery. I basically recharge the phone every night. Turn on 3G or WIFI and you can watch the battery getting empty. Again, the P910i still lasts a week!
  • Ring Tones: I have to install them. An upload via drop box doesn’t work, music can’t be used. It needs to be a special format. Another WTF.
  • Flight mode. Why can’t i choose it when I turn the mobile on? Why do I need to remember to turn the proper mode before I turn it off?
  • I don’t think the iPhone is the invention of all good. I still love the P910 with Symbian OS. If the hardware wasn’t that old I would still use it: but having today a VGA cam and no WIFI at all makes it a bit hard to use. In the meaning of having a brick in the hand just to make calls the P910i is clearly my favorite.
  • I just downloaded the 2.8GB sized SDK for the iPhone. While waiting for it I read about Java support (not really there…) and how to implement web services (as long as it is REST)… WTF?

I am having an iPhone now, and it seems to be grown on my hand. I spend a lot of money to get a little device which serves needs I didn’t have before. For now I use my macbook less, I haven’t used the PSP or the DS in ages. It replaces the Nokia N82 which only failed in not having a touch screen. For now I am having the iPhone as main phone, the P910 as my German mobile, the fisher price for the old SIM card and the o2 XDA orbit (puke!) to collect dust somewhere where I can’t see the damned device.

Tbh, I still consider the Sony Erricsson P910i as the best phone I ever had (and still have).

Look out for a soon to follow post about the iPhone vs. P910i :)

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