Friday, 13 June 2008

Notes from the N95: v2

Another collection of random notes from the new smartphone, composed on the phone:

Things that savage the battery:

  • Games (it does, after all, have a separate graphics chip)
  • GPS
  • Playing music or audiobooks using the stereo speakers rather than headphones (and I really, really shouldn't have been taken by surprise by THAT one!)

Single biggest shortcoming of the N95: the low capacity of the battery.

Can't the T9 dictionary be used to fuel a spellchecker for text editors and note-takers?

Huh! There are things that Nokia don't do best! My first real feature phone, Sony-Ericsson's very neat T630, had a very neat trick with T9: after selecting a word you could not only modify it, but cycling T9 between lower-case, upper-then-lower and all caps would cycle the word between those formats. Which was very, very handy. The Samsung that replaced it did not. Neither does this S60 Nokia, which disappoints me somewhat.

The symbol entry menu contains an entry for a space character. I'm still scratching my head over that one. I haven't met the circumstances under which I would need to use that menu item instead of the zero key. Entering numbers is the only use-case scenario that trots to mind, but it would almost be quicker to switch to alphabet mode, enter space, then switch back to number mode.

Here's a thought: (a stupid one, but nonetheless a thought) the N95 has an accelerometer which has so far been used for games, screen auto-rotation and an inclinometer for 4WDs. Well, how about a computer mouse for bluetooth equipped laptops? And for presentations when you want to stand up and walk around and still have control? They're building motion-sensing mice for exactly that purpose (and my god Logitech makes a nice one), so why not take advantage of your mobile? If you were sitting down you would of course want to have some sort of scratch protection for the phone.

On the subject of the accelerometer: I'm afraid I have to eat humble pie and admit that I was wrong. When the iPhone was released and we were treated to endless videos of automatic screen rotation for viewing photos, I immediately thought of at least one use case where that wouldn't work, and dismissed it. I was right about the need to be able to turn it off, but I was wrong about dismissing it. Thanks to French hacker Samir, I can now do the same thing myself, and apart from the wow factor, it is highly neat and cool. But I do only turn it on when I know I'm going to be wanting it.

If the phone decides that it's timed out and locks the keys, and you then press a key, it will come up with a message telling you that the keys are locked, but that message will not light up the screen, and this is really annoying because without a good direct light source, I can't read the fucking thing. This is probably a battery-saving feature, however if the slide is open, I probably want to continue using it. At least light up the notice!

On that point: one massively useful feature of my last two phones was the ability to brighten the stand-by or cover display by pressing or pressing and holding a key. Please, Nokia, put this in the next firmware!

Weirdness in caller ID: I have my girlfriend entered in my phonebook twice: once with the prefix Aa, which means that she's the first option presented, which saves time (I actually cribbed this off her - not a bad idea for a technophobe!) and once as ICE, which stands for In Case of Emergency, and allows paramedics, if you're unconscious or otherwise uncommunicative, to pick up your phone and say "I have no idea how to work this!" sorry, pick up your phone and ring the most appropriate person. My last phone always identified incoming calls or texts as ICE, I have on idea why. The N95 just gives up and displays the number. This is not helpful.

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