iPhone 3.0 – First Impressions

Well, I’ve been running the new iPhone 3.0 software update for a whole 3 hours now. What have I learned thus far?

Firstly, it is that Apple can’t handle everyone updating their phones at once. The update is of course delivered via iTunes, and it’s pretty much acting as if it was a self-inflicted DOS attack on the iTunes store. It’s timing out constantly, letting you in occasionally. Which is a bit frustrating if you’re trying to use the store in general. It’s very worrying if your phone appears to be blank because it hasn’t yet been authorised by iTunes (it has already, but for some reason it needs it again for this update). Oh well. I guess Apple will learn their lesson from this one, as it has to shaft their sales on iTunes for the day quite nastily.

Okay, so having passed through that hurdle, I got it up and running, and tried sending my first iPhone MMS. I’ve been waiting for this feature for a while, seeing as I had it on every one previously for the past few years. The interface for doing this is really nice, just click the camera button, and if you’re happy with your shot, it will put it as a thumbnail into the flow of the conversation. However it then turned out you have to wait for O2 here in the UK to turn it on. It failed a couple of times, then a little while later I got a couple of texts from them to say “it won’t work until we turn it on for you”,”okay, we’ve turned it on” (Got a tip from @jturnbull that this would happen when I was moaning about it on Twitter, which was most appreciated). Sent it again after this, and it worked fine.

That’s the moaning part of the post over now. What else? Well, it’s a few little things thus far. I’m a big podcast listener, so I was impressed to find a new little feature they’ve added, which is for podcasts only (not ordinary music tracks). You can now play them at half or double speed. The double speed could be useful for talk podcasts, as it seems to still be a sensible understandable pace, so you could speed-listen if you want. As someone who occasionally gets massive backlogs of listening, this could be rather handy for me.

Spotlight, a search feature from Mac OS that has been added to the iPhone, works beautifully. Just scroll left from your home page, and start typing. It’s searching and finding words in my email very quickly, and it is something I see me using a lot. Cut and Paste works fine. And the new voice recording application is nice, saves files to the phone, lets you email them to people, and they also show up in your phone folders on iTunes. It is a bit quiet though, be prepared to talk fairly loudly. It just isn’t as powerful a mic as say the N95 has (which if you’re so inclined, and I’m not, is a boon for concert bootlegging).

Finally for now, you can sync Notes to iTunes. However what you don’t seem to be able to then do is to find them on your computer. Which is kind of the point of syncing them (okay I lied a little about the moaning ending). I seem to recall that they may add something proper to handle this in Mac OSX Snow Leopard, but they maybe could even have just added something in iTunes for now.

So it’s not a bad start, couple of frustrations, some nice little twizzly bits to keep me occupied. However I’m not really expecting too much to begin with, as the real meat of the 3.0 update is in what it offers developers. Lots of potential in that, and that potential will start to be realised over the following weeks and months as developers start to both update their existing applications and write new ones that take advantage of the expanded feature set on offer.

iPhone games – Chess with Friends

Nice simple little application this, it does exactly what it says on the tin. It allows you to play a game of chess online with your friends. Obviously it is turn based, but as it is played via a server, you can play your game over several days, checking in to see if your friend has moved yet.

Once you’ve downloaded the app from iTunes and set up your account, you can start up a game with anyone in your contact list on the phone. You have to have either their phone number or email address. If they already have an account, it will find them, if they don’t, you can send them an invite. iPhone or iPod Touch only at the moment. From there, straightforwards, it’s a nice little chess app. If you fancy a game, leave me a comment with your email address included, and I’ll start one up!

Newtoy | Kicking off a revolution in gaming with your friends on the iPhone and iPod Touch

Microsoft launches Phone Data Manager

Microsoft launches Phone Data Manager Beta – Download Squad

This could be one to follow, Microsoft has released a beta of software to sync data with Windows. Interestingly, it isn’t just for Windows mobile devices, as the list of compatible phones includes several Symbian-based Nokia phones. I won’t be trying this myself, but it is good to see Microsoft offering support to non-Windows mobile devices, and I hope to see Apple following this lead too.

Tonchidot – How to really using tagging on mobile devices

Tonchidot were one of the most popular presentations at the recent TechCrunch50 conference. They are developing an application for the iPhone to provide live tags for everything you can see through your camera. Whilst it’s maybe not ready or achievable just yet, it is a fantastic glimpse of what could be possible in the very near future.
Tonchidot | TechCrunch50 Conference 2008

Google Maps Mobile v2.2 released

Google have updated Google Maps mobile to version 2.2. Works on the N95 fine, seems a bit speedier and neater. Google Transit seems to cover the South of England in general, so I can potentially use it to plan bus journeys should I need to as well.
Google Maps Mobile Hits v2.2 With Public Transportation

Nokia N95 Software Update 21.0.016

A new update to the software for the Nokia N95 has been available for about a month now, and I finally got chance to use it. It is well worth reading the rundown at SybianV3.com for all the details. The key points I would make are:

  • Please Nokia, let me update the software directly on the phone. The one thing I have to use Windows for is to update the software, and this is just wrong. I was able to update directly on the Nokia 6630, why can’t I on my N95. You’re not going to make me a Linux client, so allow this instead.
  • Back up your phone data to the memory card before updating. You can find this under Tools > Memory > Options > Back up phone memory. This will save you a lot of pain. Once you’ve installed the software update, you can use the Restore from card option.
  • Make a note of the software you’ve installed before updating. If you’ve installed applications to the memory card, they should in the main work after the update, but ones on your phone itself will be wiped. I did find that even though the Nokia Step Counter was removed, when I reinstalled it, it found the data for it again without prompting.
  • The main reason for updating, I feel, is the upgrade to Flash Lite 3. This means the full desktop version of Youtube now works on the N95. It’s somewhat cumbersome to navigate through, but the videos play respectably well (whereas in the mobile version, I’d yet to get one to stream at all). Well worth doing just for this. I did try to see if the BBC iPlayer would work with it too, but this was a failure, no video loaded when I tried.

New version of Nokia Sports Tracker available

I’ve downloaded the latest version of the Nokia Sports Tracker beta recently for my N95 (version 1.78), and was pleased to accidently happen upon a new feature. As well as tracking you by GPS, and allowing you to upload your journey to their site, for a while they’ve had the ability for you to add pictures and video taken along the trip. Now they have added a new feature, which will tag what you were listening to on the music player, and where you listened to it.

Now I agree this is not perhaps the most important or useful feature, but I feel it rates highly in the “that’s rather neat” stakes. It certainly works on the phone, but my first test of uploading put my pictures online, but not the music. So worth testing it out a bit more to see what is going on.

Review of the Skype Mobile Beta on the Nokia N95

When I first heard that Skype had released a beta client for mobiles, I was rather excited. I’m probably not the only N95 user that expected they could finally make VOIP calls easily through Skype. I wasn’t prepared for the disappointment that I couldn’t.

To be fair, it is listed in the details that it will make a local rate phone call to allow you to place Skype calls, but why? If I’ve got a Wi-fi connection, why can’t I use it? Okay, for long-distance and international calls, it will save me money, but that’s not what I was after.

The client itself is simple to install and set up, and once logged in, sure enough I could see my contacts fine (over the wi-fi connection). It is lacking in features compared to the full client, but the main reason for having it is to place calls, and this works well. It could really do with the same test call function that the full client has, as this is very helpful to make sure things are set up properly.

The beta Skype client runs on a range of Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Samsung phones, but in terms of the Nokia N series is only listed as working for the N95 and N80 (if I didn’t have one of these though, I would be tempted to try it out anyway just in case).

It would be perfectly acceptable if it did what I expect Skype to do, make calls online, however at the moment it just seems broken not being able to do that.

Related Posts:
Skype Beta for Nokia N95 now available
Getting Skype on the Nokia N95 with Fring

Use the iPhone Google Reader on your N95

This is a great tip for N95 users from Symbian-Guru.com, the iPhone Google Reader site really does look nice on the Nokia N95. I would add my own advice, and suggest using the Nokia browser rather than Opera Mobile (if you have that), for some reason it didn’t load in Opera for me, but worked well on the built-in browser.

iPhone Google Reader Is Awesome On S60!