Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Notes from the N95: v5

Another, quite short, collection of random notes from the (no longer) new smartphone, composed on the phone:

Amazingly, I've only just noticed this: when you add an email to an entry in the Address Book, you can't read it. What happens is that you move the highlight down to the email entry, and you see as much as will fit on screen, and a couple of dots to let you know there's more. It doesn't scroll, and if you try selecting, you get the options of send message, or edit. Which means that you have to "edit" in order to read. Which is highly annoying and more than a little suspect. Be careful not to change anything while you're in edit mode, won't you.

Why the hell do people insist upon using the most fragile method of doing things? The keypad of the N95 accomplishes a backlight by having the keys made out of a transparent plastic, and then coating them silver and leaving the characters bare so that the light shines through. Which would be fine, except that the coating is on the OUTSIDE, and it's already starting to rub off, after about six months of usage. Is this planned obsolescence or just incompetence?

There is a neat little "Search" application which sits on the home screen. It allows you to search the phone for specific applications, document types or across everything and, at least in later firmware updates, it has Google search as well. All fine and A Good Idea. Except that it is the single most sluggish, stuttering, laggardly application on the entire phone. It's so bad that I don't use it for searching the phone, and I installed Google's own search widget for that purpose. How? Does it try to index the entire phone when you start it, rather than transparently in the background whenever the phone's turned on? See T9 Nav for how to do content searches properly.

Speaking of badly designed plastic parts which suffer cosmetic damage easily: the camera surround is slightly proud of the phone's back. No problem there. But, the little switch that opens the lens cover is slightly proud of that, and that's just stupid. Easy to operate, yes, but in design terms it looks like an afterthought added by the work-experience kid and, yes, the silver coating is a third gone, revealing the tacky grey plastic underneath. For this, they charged $1200+ when it was new?

S60 can be themed. Which is cool. Unfortunately, my favourite theme designer,

PiZero, has a bad habit of breaking UI models with his replacement icons. In most graphical interfaces, folders are represented by a folder icon, or a hard drive, and applications are represented by a unique icon. If you want to get fancy with folders, you attach an icon for function or contents, but you attach it to the existing folder icon, you don't replace it completely and leave users totally confused over what's an application and what's a folder full of applications. Yet that is exactly what PiZero has a habit of doing. Repeatedly. If I didn't use T9 Nav, it'd get really annoying.

Well, there we are. Not, after all, a long list after owning and using it fairly intensively for as long as I have.

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