This is the one: Navigation app edition (decision)

Location, mapping and navigation is very close to my heart. Not being able to have one which fulfilled all my needs annoyed me extremely. On my N8 (a phone ahead of its time, which should have been promoted better, and used as the basis for the Lumia line but never mind all that) I used Ovi Maps, which was rebranded Nokia Maps, which eventually became HERE maps.

Navigation on the N8 was extremely accurate, and included offline mapping at a time when that wasn’t a thing, and free turn-by-turn navigation, also at a time when that wasn’t a thing. I didn’t have a car at the time though, so I used the app once every few months maybe?

When I got my Lumia, I juggled Windows Maps and HERE Maps for a while before eventually settling on HERE. As time went by, and the Nokia sale took place with the exclusion of HERE, I could see the writing on the wall.

HERE stopped being a Windows Phone exclusive, and launched on Android. When the Android app surpassed the functionality of the WP app within a year, it was a concern. When I got my Huawei, I carried on using HERE, mainly because all my places from the last few years are saved in there, and it really was so much better to use on Android than WP.

Two weeks ago, HERE dropped support for Windows Phone. I then decided to research my options. Sadly, there is no other option is there?

Google Maps it is. I knew this would happen. I’d switch to Android out of necessity while keeping all the services I hold dear and adding a few more. Now I’ve replaced the Windows Phone launcher with Microsoft’s Arrow launcher, because I can never get my Live Tiles back. I tried to hold on to the best piece of what’s left of Nokia, but I couldn’t anymore.

What if I start using Google Docs instead of Word? I said I would never do that, but I also said I’d stick with Windows Phone to the bitter end. Even worse – what if I join Google+???

As a GIS person, I can appreciate what Google has done in terms of bringing GIS to the masses. I can also resent them for making my job so much harder. That being said, the Maps app is an absolute dream, and when I realised I could draw my own routes online and save them to the phone…


This is the one: Smartphone edition #2 (review)

After 6 weeks with my Mate S, it’s time for a quick review. I’m using it as my company phone, which means my company sim is in it, not my personal sim. This means that I don’t have Whatsapp on it. Otherwise, I have moved all the functions I used my old phone for to this one.

Basic specs:

  • 5.5″ AMOLED 1080p screen
  • Gorilla Glass 4
  • Quad-core @ 2.2 GHz & Quad-core @ 1.5GHz
  • Mali-T628 GPU
  • 32GB + micro sd
  • 3GB RAM
  • 13MP rear camera with dual-LED flash, 8MP front camera
  • Android Lollipop
  • 2700 mAh battery (non-removable)
  • Extras: Fingerprint sensor, flip cover included in box

The phone is very thin, compared to what I am used to, and very nice to hold. I would have preferred the dual sim variant, so I don’t have to carry my personal phone around as well, but unfortunately my network does not offer it. That’s also the variant with 128GB onboard and Force Touch 😥

I have the Mystic Champagne variant, which is a welcome change from the black Lumia. The included flip cover was a nice touch, but I’ve always hated those, so I only used it until my perspex clear cover arrived from Amazon. The box the phone arrived in had a premium look and feel – even the earphones came in a matching colour in its own little perspex box.

The phone is fast, lagging occasionally when I open the dialer (for some reason). Battery life is generally good – I can get through a full 24 hours without having to charge. The fingerprint sensor is very accurate, and I love being able to unlock the phone using this method. It’s also useful for taking photos.

On that note, coming from a 41MP behemoth which couldn’t function correctly because of the stupid, stupid OS, I had high hopes for the camera. These hopes were almost immediately crushed. Yes, the camera takes some nice shots in perfect sunlight. That’s about all I can say for it.

The Emotion UI over Lollipop has yielded a better Android experience than my previous go-around with TouchWiz over Jellybean. However, it did not take long before I relented and installed a WP launcher to get my Live Tiles back (miss you!).

Now on to the real story: apps. I have ranted about apps many, many times on this blog, and why I really don’t need them blah blah blah. That of course was my Stockholm Syndrome talking, because I love apps now, seeing as they actually work.

I didn’t know it would be such a relief to have fully functional apps for Feedly, LinkedIn, HERE maps, 22seven and all my fave online shops. Don’t get me started on the excellent quality of the Microsoft apps on Android when compared to the piles of garbage on their native platform. I’ll write up a separate post on how I am using apps now to GTD daily.

Overall, I’m glad I chose this phone. I dropped it for the first time yesterday and I nearly lost my mind because one of the few things I miss about my Lumia is the sturdiness. If I drop this phone on its face, I’m pretty sure it will be tickets.

Like I said earlier, I am still carrying the Lumia because it has my personal sim in it. It makes me sad everyday to have to work on it after using the Huawei.


My experience using Windows Phone: An analysis, and why I left

After defending and justifying and praising and sighing for 3 years, I’ve finally let go.

I tried. I really did. From the first time I laid eyes on the Lumia 1020, I knew I needed one. I could live without apps, and did live without apps, for 2 and a half years.

I loved the Modern/Live tiles concept – Windows 8 was refreshing to me, as was Windows Phone 8. 8.1 on both platforms just polished off all the rough edges of 8. In fact, that is what kept me holding on for so long – I quite simply prefer the UX of Windows Phone over that of Android (and I won’t even mention the other one because I would sooner return to a 3310 than cross over).

What it ultimately came down to was, even though I was used to the “app gap” and quirks in the Windows Phone OS, it was the hardware in my phone which caused me to switch. I had this beautiful 41MP camera when Samsung was touting an 8MP camera on their flagship.

I would cringe when trying to use it, because with each subsequent OS/Lumia Camera app update, the camera would become even more unusable. More often than not, it would take about 5 seconds for the camera to spin up. That is an absolute age when trying to capture those “in-the-moment” photos.

The 3 second wait while the phone tried to save the photos was also unbearable. The OIS on my Nokia N8 was better than the OIS in my 1020. I put the blame for all of this on the previous gen dual core processor they jammed in there to power this beast of a camera.

It’s a crying shame. It’s also pathetic that of the apps that were available, one could see which ones were carefully thought through (Fitbit) and which ones were just thrown onto the platform without optimisation (Whatsapp).

When I saw the 950 series, I thought, maybe I can try again. I then realised that I no longer wish to be part of a dying breed.


I’ve stripped my phone

Seeing as the end is nigh, and I was tired of the bubbling screen protector, last night I decided to remove it from my phone completely. This is after I removed the bulky case two weeks ago.

Of course, I dropped my phone onto the ground outside on Saturday, and was rewarded with damage to both corners on the RHS. It landed on its face as well, but seeing as it’s a Nokia, I have never been worried when it lands on its face.

I know I’ll have to change my attitude once my new phone arrives, but I’ll have to change my attitude about a lot of things once I make the jump.



This is the one: Smartphone edition #2 (decision)

I start my new job this Friday, and I get to choose a phone. After much umming and ahhing, and a couple of false starts (like deciding to get the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact before going into a store and seeing that it’s almost as thick as my N8), I came to a decision.

Huawei Mate S

The Huawei Mate S has all the features I could want, plus some I didn’t know I wanted until I held the phone and played with it – the fingerprint sensor at the back which instantly unlocks the phone and can be used for gesture control, for example.

And yes, this means I’m finally leaving Windows Phone. That is a discussion for another day.


I am so over phones

I’m not planning on upgrading my smartphone once my contract ends in November. Firstly, I need to get as far away from Vodacom as possible. I cannot be their hostage any longer.

Secondly, I’ve realised that the main reason I need my phone is to keep in touch with the SO while we are apart. I could do that just fine with my N8, yet I needed to get a new phone because that 256MB RAM was killing me.

I don’t use my smartphone as a smartphone. This is a problem. It’s why the lack of apps on Windows Phone has never really bothered me. I may check my email on the phone, use Pushbullet to share articles with the SO, and check my Feedly, but that’s it. Those tasks also only happen occasionally.

Every “smart” task that I want to do, I can do using Astro. I don’t need a phone to do it. Dan’s treatise on the subject last week really got me thinking about this.

I agree with most of his sentiments – Microsoft (Ballmer) brought all this nonsense upon themselves mostly. They’ve made it extremely hard to support them. My colleague, who got his Lumia 1020 shortly after I did, is considering getting a Galaxy Note 5 instead. It’s just been too long – the processor in the 1020 was approaching end of life even before the phone was released, and that was two years ago now.

My younger sister just bought herself an LG G4, after her Lumia 925 finally packed up last week after months of doing random things. I don’t even bother using the 41MP camera in my 1020 anymore, because the camera software got so buggered after each “update”, rendering it virtually unusable and slow.

Literally, the main reason I delayed getting a new phone after my N8 was because I was waiting for the camera. It’s the reason I had to return to Vodacom after porting away from them after 10 years of being ripped off (because they were the only ones offering the phone immediately).

I haven’t bothered upgrading to the Windows 10 Mobile Preview even though I am a Windows Insider. I honestly can’t be bothered with phones anymore. When the RTM appears I will upgrade immediately, because I would like my phone to be faster. But I won’t be purchasing a flagship, or any other Windows Phone. At least for a while anyway.

That doesn’t mean I’m switching to Apple. On principle, that will never, ever happen. I make this statement on here, knowing that the Internet never forgets. I am that confident that I will never cross over.

Android is not a choice either – I’ve mentioned here that I only tolerated it because of my Note 8, and I’ve worked enough with it at work (device configuration for mobile data capture) and at home (parents’ tablets) to know that I could not use it for anything worthwhile.

In conclusion: I’m over phones. I’m just waiting for The One now.


Apps I’ve given up on: MyStudyLife Edition

I started using MyStudyLife over a year ago, to keep track of my MOOC assignments. It was also preparation for my studies again.

I would have loved this app, had I still been at university and attending classes and such. I tried to make it work by adding all my MOOC assignments, adding reminders and so forth, but the effort required to open the web app and do all of that, without calendar integration with Outlook was such a pain.

I really did want to love it – the Windows app matched the Android one while sticking to Windows design principles, and I’m all for supporting a developer who actually cares about Windows Phone – but I just ended up scheduling my tasks on my Calendar again anyway, so that I could actually get a proper reminder.

So, I’ve officially given up on it, in keeping with my current strategy of going standard.