The battle to preserve personal and secure data across mobile platforms goes on. You may remember that I went on an exploratory trip around every secure database system recently, with no satisfactory conclusion. Is it too much to expect to be able to take my PINs, my ID numbers, my software serial numbers, my secrets, from platform to platform? It may be too early to call off the search completely, but a solution is emerging that looks future proof and promising.
Recent Features - Windows Phone 7
Regular listeners to the 361 Degrees podcast will have heard many times of Rafe's legendary 'six year rule', when referring to smartphone platforms and ecosystems. With Blackberry seemingly imploding before our eyes, with Nokia having been snapped up recently by Microsoft and with Symbian increasingly being forgotten in the marketplace, I thought it worth both expanding on Rafe's rule of thumb and also charting it graphically. A mosquito lives for a week, a hamster for a year or two, smartphone operating systems about six or seven years, and (happily) human beings about 70 to 80 years. Life and death, all in 1000 words? It can only be an All About (sites) editorial....
I've done a lot of smartphone camera shootouts over the last five years on All About Symbian and All About Windows Phone, each revolving around taking the same shot with a number of different test units and then (at some point) cropping in to look at pixel-level detail. And each time I get called out for doing this: "Real users don't crop in to the level where they can see pixels". Here's my defence, aided by some rather nice example photos from a mystery device...
Sitting in my office, taking the backs of a number of Nokia phones (as you do), it struck me that something was missing - holograms. For the last five years or so, the presence of an official Nokia hologram has been a pretty good indication that a battery is genuine (and not some Far East-sold fake). Yet Nokia has been shipping phones over the last 12 months with hologram-less batteries. Photo proof below, but I have to ask - not for the first time - how on earth one might be able to tell these new official batteries from the replacement fakes?
Throughout the history of PDAs and smartphones (so we're talking 20 years), one particular design battle has been raging, seemingly without a victor. From which you have to conclude that the battle is quite evenly matched. Yet I disagree, arguing that, from the user's point of view, there's a very definite winner, while manufacturers have a different preference and slant on this particular aspect of design.
It's fair to say that most people agree that Windows Phone 8 is a great, if not perfect, starting point for people who are new to smartphones - it's slick and everything the beginner needs is there from the start. What's more contentious is how well Windows Phone 8 works for anyone coming from a Symbian or Android handset - such people are used to a lot of flexibility in terms of interface, hardware and the interaction between applications. Can Windows Phone 8 currently satisfy, as at the end of February 2013 with the 'Portico' update now rolled out to all? How much is still to come? In this heavily updated article, here's my honest assessment, based on months of use of both the Symbian-powered Nokia 808 and the Windows Phone 8-powered Nokia Lumia 920...
It's true, I'm something of a rebel - you can count on me to disagree with the accepted wisdom of the rest of the smartphone world fairly often. Camera phones with real Xenon flash, for example. And I've mused on the trend towards ever-bigger phones before, but with CES 2013 now upon us and 5" and 6"-screened 'phones' now a reality, I find that I just can't stay silent. These monstrosities may well be 'phones' to the well-heeled twenty-something geeks, but to every day mums and dads, and to people who really are mobile, the size rather gets in the way. Having tried everything on the market, I'm convinced that the sweet spot for me is smaller. A lot smaller.
I've published several 'how to' pieces in the past dishing out general smartphone photography tips, but for this 'how to' I wanted to take the example of a single great photo and put you inside my mind as I prepared for it and captured the moment. Hopefully some of the things I cover will help you take your own great photos, whatever smartphone you own (the example here was captured on the Nokia Lumia 920, but there are several other phones with great photographic hardware).
I've commented before at length (and quoted below) on the pros and cons of having sealed batteries in our smartphones, i.e. batteries which can only be removed or changed at your manufacturer's designated service centre. My stated bullet points are all very well, but I've now had direct experience in the last month that strongly leads me to declare having a sealed battery as a showstopper, for me personally, at least. Below is my tale of woe and a handy table of which smartphones are vulnerable to potential disaster in this way.
Guest writer Mark Johnson has been deep in real world test territory, trying out the Symbian and Windows Phone versions of Nokia Drive, both in planning, execution and on the road over an identical 110 mile journey. Here's his report. Although the latter version ends up a little less mature than its predecessor, it's worth noting that Nokia Drive and Maps and set for a big overhaul for Windows Phone 8, due out in a month's time. It'll be interesting to see Mark revisit his article in the New Year, perhaps?