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Windows Phone 7: The Future?

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Last year when Windows Phone 7 was officially launched to the public, many predicted that it was going to be simply too little too late for the software powerhouse. Breaking into a booming smartphone market dominated by Apple, Android and Blackberry was never going to be easy, and while they appear to have done a lot of things right, it still can’t perform some of the most standard smartphone tasks, like tethering.

CNET’s early review of the platform over various phones was overly positive, but reinforced this same view.

It’s absolutely mind-boggling that Windows Phone 7 is missing some very fundamental features, like copy/paste, third-party multitasking, and universal search. In the past, competitors like Apple were lambasted by the public for not having such features, so you’d think Microsoft would take precautions not to repeat such mistakes. We understand some sacrifices had to be made in order to meet the holiday release deadline and that they’ll eventually be added in a future update, but these are some pretty key and basic features that we would expect to be included out of the gate. Source.

Another major hurdle for WP7 is their app-store situation. With Apple reporting 350,000 and Android 150,000 apps respectively, all Microsoft had to say for itself was that it was after “quality over quantity.” Source. The company has gotten to such a point of desperation, that it has been reported they’ve lifted a moonlighting ban on their programmers, so they can create and retain revenue from WP7 apps. And out of the 3,400 employees who have signed up to Microsoft’s moonlighting deal, only 840 of their apps have been published. Top-tier stuff there.

Instead, Nokia will team up with Microsoft in a “deep partnership” in which each company has a stake in the other’s success. With the software giant’s Windows 7 operating system, Nokia’s hardware expertise and both companies’ suites of programs and applications, the duo will attempt to take on Apple and Google in offering a complete package of hardware, software and third-party applications. Source.

That’s right, mobile giant Nokia and WP7 are soon to be inseparable. Nokia’s new CEO had to take drastic measures to correct the once-dominant company’s nose-diving market share. And rather than using the platforms everyone already knows, Nokia opted to try and create something that would have it’s own unique identity.

Unfortunately not everyone is so confident, with financial market reports indicating a near-collapse in Nokia’s share price in the days following the announcement.

Most recently, the blogs and techrags have been ablaze with frustration, confusion and a general sense of “what the?” This is due to the continual and unjustified delay of the highly-anticipated update to the WP7 platform, with Microsoft issuing an apology, but not an explanation. This is such as source of aggravation for users of the platform, as it would address many of the grievances above.

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Written by aphelion.

April 4, 2011 at 1:44 am

Posted in Mobile Phones, Software, Windows Phone

Tagged with , , ,

In Defence of Smartphones

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Being a smart-phone user, and a fan of the technology behind them, I often find myself trying to sell their merits to friends and anyone that will listen. But, more often than not, I run into the argument that you don’t actually need them. And to be honest, it’s a difficult claim to retort.

So this got me thinking, and I went on a trawl around the internet; looking for some evidence that would help to move smartphones from more of an indulgence to a necessity.

I stumbled across an article discussing the development of both a back-end application and smartphone app that work together in emergency situations to keep effected people updated on evacuation procedure, the location of shelters, first aid centres and everything else you could need in such a situation. It also allows emergency services personnel to track the movement of people using the app, which allows for quicker response times and a more co-ordinated response effort.

The CiviGuard technology in action.

While the application suite is still very much in its infancy, it’s already being hailed as part of the future role that technology will play in disaster recovery efforts.

The "Tiny Flashlight+LED" application for Android OS.

After the utter devastation of the Japan earthquake/tsunami disaster, the developer of the “Tiny Flashlight+LED” application for Android reported to the Phandroid site that in the first few hours after the quake struck, there were in excess of 50,000 downloads of the application. “Tiny Flashlight+LED” allows users to utilise both their screen and camera flash as a torch–     something that would prove invaluable in power outages, and even help those trapped under rubble.

 

 

You heard correctly. You can use your HTC as a bullet shield (don’t try it, genius). The incredible story of John Garber is not the first time I’ve heard of a bullet being stopped by a conveniently placed mobile phone. So if you’re the paranoid type, utilise your top pocket.

 

The battery of Mr. Garber's HTC Droid Incredible, after blocking the stray bullet.

 

As well as the articles and technologies I’ve referred to above, there are a whole host of other potentially life-saving uses for smartphones that I couldn’t discuss without getting long-winded.

Some the best/most interesting I came across:

Smartphone Helps Man Survive Haiti Earthquake

Blackberry Stops Man Falling to His Death

Life-saving Smartphone Apps

I will from now on be referring to this post in any future argument.

Written by aphelion.

March 28, 2011 at 10:20 am

Where are you?: The Foursquare and geo-tagging debate.

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If you’re reading this, it’s probably a safe assumption to make that you own a mobile phone. A significant number of you, maybe even most of you, own a phone with internet capability. And you’ve probably used it at some point.

You may or may not have heard of this little thing called Forsquare, a geo-tagging social network that grew a modest 3400% LAST YEAR. And now boasts membership of more than six-million users worldwide. Even in the shining beacon of freedom, North Korea. Oh, and SPACE.

Opinions appear to be divided in all directions, as the service continues to grow in popularity. One irate blogger’s comments, admittedly captures my initial opinion accurately, asking “WHO THE %*$& CARES WHERE YOU ARE?” [Here]

My opinion first began to change, much in the same way I began to grow fond of Twitter. An article spoke of China’s Tian’anmen Paranoia Police blocking use of the service nation-wide, on the anniversary of the 1989 massacre. This was due to a substantial number of users “checking-in” at Tian’anmen Square, and leaving messages that left the Chinese government a little red in the face. This may signal the beginnings of future activist and humanitarian uses for the service, which may well have already begun to happen, considering the tumultuous state of the world at the moment.

Of course, there’s the downside. Foursquare gives users the option to share their check-ins via other social networks, and for anyone with a substantial Twitter following, this means telling people you don’t know, where you are, or, when you aren’t home.

"France" hey? Plenty of time to steal myself a speaker!

Thus, the site PleaseRobMe was born. It aggregates public tweets posted from services such as Foursqaure, in aid of  “[raising] some awareness on this issue and have people think about how they use services like Foursquare, Brightkite, Google Buzz, etc.” says the site, in a rationale regarding itself, quoted from here. The only real-life manifestations of this danger I could find reference to, was a story of a woman who got called by a stalker at a restaurant and invited on a bike ride, and another woman whose house was burgled in the 10 minutes she was out shopping. Both checked-in away from home, on Foursquare.

But, as always in life, especially digital life, common sense will do you ceaseless good. And at least one other blogger agrees with me there.

Written by aphelion.

March 27, 2011 at 1:28 am