Until the future web accessible world arrives, from a pragmatic standpoint, many of us if we want to access contacts, or the camera, or a variety of other APIs and features on our mobile devices, we find ourselves delving into hybrid native-web mobile worlds or diving into native mobile apps be it through a SDK or PhoneGap or the like.
Thomas Perl in a post-Nokia World 2011 blog post, Comparing Mobile OS SDK availability by platform, builds an argument for a very salient point for folks who are currently developing for native mobile apps:
“Now, people can argue that one can set up dual-boot or virtual machines to support all OSes, but that’s not the point. The point is that if the SDK is available on all Desktop platforms (note that this is not the same as SDK targetting all mobile platforms), developers can retain their choice of Desktop OS on which they develop on, and are not forced to use OS X or Windows for development of apps for the corresponding mobile platform (I also understand the reason why these companies only provide the SDK for their own Desktop platform, but that is not a good reason from a developer’s point of view).”
I agree with Mr. Perl. I don’t want to be told which desktop platform I must use so that I can develop for a certain mobile. I find working in virtual box to be tedious after a short span of time. I would like the system I develop for to respect me enough to let me to make the choice about what desktop/laptop OS I prefer to use.
Bravo to Android, Qt, and PhoneGap.
Recently I found myself thinking about camera phone apps, more specifically about Hipstamatic and do folks really use it past the week they bought it out of the App Store?
Amongst the photographers and designers I know and follow on Flickr, I will occasionally see a photo that looks like it was Hipstamatic-d but not often, which makes me to wonder if it is due to the fact that Hipstamatic does not make a back up of the original photo before it is processed or if folks just aren’t interested in Lomo like mobile camera phone photos.
My curiosity continued to wander and I started to wonder really how many camera phone apps people were using past the first week of buying them. Furthermore, what iPhone and Android camera phone apps were people buying and using with any regularity. Do folks like the ‘toy camera’ apps or were they using camera apps with other functionality?
The Camera phone app world has quite exploded on the iPhone and Android is catching up, but when I searched the Ovi Store there were very few camera phone apps for Symbian devices and those that were there were more geared to an East Asian J-Pop photo booth cute overload on neon aesthetic than the Graham Parson-esque Silver Like circa 1972 via a yellow daisy filled green meadow in misty sunlight aesthetic of Hipstamatic.
There was one Symbian app, Joyeye, that promised Lomo style photos, but it did not work on my Nokia N86 and I did not try to download a version for the N97. It may be that it is only for touchscreen Symbian devices or it may be that the Ovi Store seems dead set on thinking my N86 is an N97.
Two weeks ago to satisfy my curiosity, I conducted a very small survey on Twitter by asking:
msjen: iPhone folk, what is your favorite camera or photo app & why?
Forgive me for last night’s storytelling rant/praise about Over the Air updating of one’s mobile / smartphone. But one point that I would like to pick out from the story’s threading is that of ease of use for the customer.
Many in the mobile and computer technology space complain about how users do not update their computers, mobiles or software thus making it more complex, difficult, and at times more expensive for creators, designers, and developers to provide great experiences (giving the the stink eye to IE6). But we can’t complain if we are part of the problem in making updating difficult or more complex than it needs to be.
Apple has solved the problem of updating by making syncing between one’s iPhone/iPod/iPad as close to automatic as possible when you dock or plug it into your computer. But it creates another problem in that one need’s to have access to a computer to update or sync one’s Apple mobile products and it can also create problems if you don’t want a full sync or update. I have heard quite a few friends complain about both, either not having a regular computer or by syncing unique data on the mobile is wiped out by the sync. Apple makes it very easy but they have control over how the update happens.
Google’s Android has solved the problem by making all their updates to any Android phone happen over the air. As I detailed out last night, Android puts a little notice up in the top tool bar that updates are available, the user can then click on the tool bar and a drop down menu will give one the alerts as to which software and/or firmware has updates available. Google makes updating very easy and gives the user the control on when and how much they want to update.
My complaint of the last four years about Nokia’s Symbian S60 devices and updating is that the updating can only occur when one has the mobile phone attached by USB cable to a Windows PC/laptop. If one does not have access to a PC or one does not wish to find a PC to update one’s mobile, then one goes without. Once one gets a PC of which to conduct the update on, it becomes a multiple step update process that usually includes updating the Nokia Updater software and then updating the phone. Most of the time this takes at least 3-5 times longer than an Apple or Android update. Unnecessary kit, steps, and time just to update.
What was so exciting to me and praiseworthy yesterday was that the Nokia N900 with the Maemo linux-based OS uses the Android model of OTA (Over the Air) updates. The user clicks on the alert in the top tool bar, one chooses the updates that one wants to have updated, and as long as one has data connection it will update. As stated last night, this whole process for a major firmware update took less than 10 minutes. It was truly efficient.
From the user experience perspective, we as creators, designers, and developers cannot assume what the user will have for ‘kit’ or a computer to update with and what access to connection they will have. Thus I suggest the following for updating of software and firmware on mobile phones and computers:
1) Let the device that needs to be updated be the only device involved. If a mobile, don’t force the user to find a computer to conduct the update.
2) Make the available updates be readily noticeable to the user on the front or home screen of the device.
3) Allow whatever connection is most convenient for the user to do the updating. If wifi, then let the wifi do the job. If data connection through a mobile carrier, then let the sim chip do the job. Don’t force it to be through the mobile carrier as some folks have very spotty 2G& 3G connections. Don’t let the user fear that a spotty connection will brick the device. Conversely, if it doesn’t work for the user to do the update only through a mobile connection, then give them steps to get around this.
4) Allow the user to choose how little or how much they want to update. If a major firmware update, then say so in plain language, not the internal language of your company or specialty.
By taking these four steps we can encourage users to update and make the update painless. Painless updates that just work make for a good user experience, excitement for new features or bug fixes, and in the end for brand affection and loyalty.
The ability to update one’s mobile phone / device is an excellent service that a handset manufacturer or operating system can offer a customer as it not only extends the life of the mobile but it also expands and builds on the array of services and software available on the mobile.
One of the big enticements for me to consistently choose Nokia mobile phones over other manufacturers has been the high quality cameras, the great hardware, and the software/OS updates that are available for your mobile even a year or two after purchase.
Only one not so small, not so wee problem…
Up until the last year, all of the updates have only been available for Nokia customers with access to a PC / Microsoft Windows based computers, as one would have to use a Windows machine to update the Nokia in question.
Now, I don’t know about you, but if you are a Nokia Nseries owner in the US, you are possibly not a PC owner. If you prefer to buy hard to find, high end, well designed hardware, then you have been mostly buying Apple for years and used to paying extra premium for great devices. If you are a Nokia Nseries owner in the US, you may be a creative surrounded by other creatives with Macs, not PCs. And on top of all of that, the PC owners around you might be the sort who don’t own or ever run anti-virus and so you wouldn’t want to hook your precious, expensive Noka up to their virii-addled PCs even for an update that will take 45 minutes to set up.
On top of hunting down a PC to update one’s Nokia, there is the added irritation that every time one wants to update on a borrowed or ancient PC, the Nokia Updater software on the PC wants to be updated itself. And given that the lame computer in question is a Windows machine it means a lengthy download, a restart of the machine, plug your Nokia back in via USB cable and START ALL OVER AGAIN. SO ANNOYING.
Can I type it again? SO ANNOYING.
30-45 minutes to just get one f*ing update. UGH.
Fri. 05.07.10 – Today at Tuttle Club LA, Vaughan Risher (@vardenrhode) started asking the mobile folk in the group some questions about the upcoming Nokia N8’s HD video recording capabilities.
He had three questions, of which he wrote down for me to ask around about, but then I decided I should video him fleshing out what he was really thinking.
Here are his questions about the Nokia N8:
1) Is there a button to upload full HD, not low res compressed, recorded video directly to YouTube, Vimeo, etc?
2) How does the interface stack up with iPhone or the Nexus One.
3) Can you see a complete video novice being able to use advanced video features.
Vaughan is an iPhone 3G owner who is ready to upgrade and if the Nokia N8 has the ability to upload full resolution HD recorded video directly to YouTube or Vimeo he may be tempted.
Video recorded by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N97 at Toorak Cafe, Long Beach, Calif.
Ms. Jen, @msjen, blackphoebe.com
Vaughan Risher, @vardenrhode, vaughanrisher.com
The geyers are a’ gushin’ on the Google Nexus One reveal this morning:
The Atlantic Wire filtering Engadget & TechCrunch’s reviews : Nexus One: The Summary Judgement
ars technica : Google’s biggest announcement was not a phone, but a URL
Frog : Why Google Had to Take Control of Android with Nexus One
Tuttle LA’s own Matt Kapko at The Eye on Mobile: Google is in the trenches while Apple is in our pockets
TechCrunch : Apple And Google Just Tag Teamed The U.S. Carriers
Quote from the last article:
“Think about your cellphone and cellular service five years ago. Both were likely horrible. But you were content in your misery, because you didn’t know any better.”
Actually, TechCrunch, no, five years ago – Jaunary 2005, I had AT&T’s data all to myself and a Nokia N7610 with email, a web browser, a cameraphone, and Lifeblog; I was not miserable and the combo was the opposite of horrible. It didn’t get horrible until late 2006 when (Cingular) AT&T in LA started degrading in its service. Then again, I have not owned a phone that was branded by a carrier since 2004. Since 2004, all of my phones have been unlocked and unbranded, praise be to Amazon and Nokia.
My own toddle down memory lane aside, I will be watching what Google does with their own Android mobile. I won’t be spending $529 to buy this nexus one, when I do have that amount extra, I will be buying Nokia N900 Maemo mobile as I love that it has python natively on the mobile, Maemo is more open from the dev point of view, it has a qwerty keyboard and the camera kicks bootay.
Even though I am not ready to part with $529 for the Google Nexus One, I am very excited that Android is continuing to mature as a mobile OS and that Google is taking more control of the product. If I were forced to choose between the Nexus One and the iPhone 3GS for my next purchased mobile, I would definitely choose Google over Apple.
test pixel pipe pro.
Update from my computer later in the day, Tues 09.01.09 – I realize that lots of folk find Pixelpipe to be a great mobile blogging application, but I just find it moderately annoying, and the above photo is a great example of why.
To start out with, I was unable to get Pixelpipe to work on the Nokia N97. I was able to get it to somewhat work on the Nokia N95 & Nokia N79, but was not happy with it.
I do find that the Pixelpipe Android user experience is MILES better than the Nokia Share Online + Pixelpipe. Also, I will say that Pixelpipe’s support folk have been great to help me set up an “Atom” enabled pipe so that I can blog directly to this blog, rather than have the photo hosted on the Pp servers.
Today, I went to the Android Market (on phone app store) and purchased Pixelpipe Pro for $1.99 to see if the experience would be any better. In many ways, the user experience of Pixelpipe Pro is better, as there is a nice tabbed navigation allowing one to do tasks such has add a title, body copy, tags, a tab view the queue of photos or video going out, etc. I was not able to figure out how to do a minor task like rotate the image, so I exited out of Pp, went to the Android Gallery, rotated the image, saved it and then opened Pixelpipe again.
The above image now showed up as rotated and up I sent it to Pixelpipe. I was a bit frustrated here, as it did not allow me to choose to what location I wanted to send out to other than the tag version of indicating where it is to be sent. In the paid Pro version, I should be given a drop down menu of my pre-registered pipes and be able to choose one or more of them.
I sent the photo and did not see it show up on this blog within 10 minutes, so I thought we had a Pixelpipe failure, only to see it appear about 20 minutes later in the non-rotated version of the photo, even though I had saved the rotated photo and chosen that one to send in Pixelpipe.
Here is what I would like to suggest to Pixelpipe for their Pro version of the mobile app:
1) Allow the user to do all tasks and activities from the mobile app and not have to go to the website to set up pipes or manage them. All the settings and controls should be editable in the mobile app.
2) Allow the user to be able to do minor image editing tasks in the mobile app like rotate a photo or choose what size the photo should be sent at.
3) Allow the user to choose which Pipe they want which photo to be sent to in the mobile app without having to add tags.
4) Can Symbian also have a Pixelpipe Pro mobile app comparable to the Android Pixelpipe Pro that is completely separate of the evil Share Online? Please.