Monday, 9 June 2008

Notes from the N95

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

Entering the key combination 3-8-7 in predictive text gives me 'ftp' first, not an actual word like 'fur'. This may be because I added ftp to the dictionary, and it went to the front of the cue. Which leads me to question: does T9 learn from experience and re-sort priorities based upon usage frequencies? Because that would be, like, really smart and handy (update: yes, it seems that it does. After typing 'red' several times in a row further down in this post, 'red' became prefered over 'see'. Well done, Nokia, well done).

T9 really goodness: when cycling through options, you get the option of going backwards. I have not previously seen this, and it is GOOD.

No micro-USB charging. Most USB devices are powered or charged though the USB cable. The N95 is not. This is currently only eyebrow-raising, but could quickly become a nuisance. That facility allows the USB cable to become a smaller, more convenient and much more portable charging cable that I can take to work in case I need it.

The red key is inconsistent! Most phones have a red key which is used to cancel things or close applications or hang up calls. Useful little bugger. On Symbian with S60, however, they decided that because Symbian is multi-tasking they would use that key to send applications into the background instead of closing them, which is a really quick and neat way to get back to the home screen for a text message that just came in, or open a different application, or check the time or what have you. But people didn't realise this, and thought that they were closing the application, and would end up with too many open on an old device without enough working memory (RAM: I find the psychology term more useful), and their phone would start running at a crawl and they would get grumpy. So the red key became the close key. Now most devices have PLENTY of working memory on hand, and the red key is becoming a send-to-background key again. Which I prefer, except: it's not consistent. One or the other I could get used to but both mixed up together is really annoying. I keep hitting the red key, then not finding that application listed in the task manager when I want to get back to it. Which makes ME grumpy. Stick to one option and, if necessary, make it globally configurable.

Have you ever owned a vehicle equipped with a fuel gauge which would hover around full for a hundred kilometres or so, meander downwards to half and them suddenly plummet vertiginously to empty? The battery indicator on my N95 is a bit like that. Very annoying.

There must be a way to put a lot of control buttons in close proximity to each other and make it easy to hit one rapidly without danger of getting the wrong one and ending up killing the application or, at the very least, having to exit out of another menu. I'm just saying. Frighteningly, the fractionally larger screen on the N95 8GB results in an even smaller set of control buttons. I would hate to have to use the touch-sensitive "hidden" music control buttons embedded in the N81 keypad.

It has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on it. Which means that I can use my set that actually clicks over my ears and stays on. Oh, thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou!

Nokia provide a very neat little cable that sits between the phone and the earphones, with the standard play/pause/skip buttons and volume buttons on it. Very handy. BUT, and this is both baffling and infuriating, the fucking thing only works with the single built-in music player. Third-party software? No. Not so surprising, you may think. BUT the little bugger doesn't even work with Nokia's own audiobook player! Aargh!

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