Archive for the 'Mobile' Category

Windows Phone 7, Euromess, Google Buzz & TED2010

Viimeisen viikon aikana tapahtunut maailmalla taas paljon. Lyhyesti muutama artikkeli ja video jotka ovat jääneet mieleen seuraavista tapahtumista:

Windows Phone 7 oli ehkä yksi suurimmista positiivisista yllätyksistä; kokonaan uusi käyttöjärjestelmä ja lähestymistapa (datakeskeinen eikä toiminnalisuuskeskeinen kuten Android ja iPhone OS). Samalla Nokia julkaisi Intel-yhteistyönsä: Maemo + Moblin = MeeGo (miksi Intel lähtee kehittämään softaa ARMille?), mutta enpä oikein taas tiedä tuostakaan vedosta. Matt Buchan tiivistää Gizmodon artikkelissaan:

The mobile picture is now officially a three-way dance: Apple, Google, and Microsoft. The same people who dominate desktop computing. Everybody else is screwed. Former Palm CEO Ed Colligan famously said a few years ago: “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.” That’s precisely what’s just happened. Phones are the new PCs. PC guys are the new phone guys.

Kreikan talouskriisiin en ole kovin syvälle porautunut, mutta Krugerin kolumni The Making of a Euromess New York Timesissa oli hyvä taustoitus ja herätys euroalueen ongelmiin (vaikkakaan en usein täysin jaa Krugerin näkemyksiä – toisaalta ehkä hän tietää paremmin).

Google Buzz oli vähintäänkin yhtä yllätys. Jaikun toinen perustaja Jyri Engeström kirjoittaa blogissaan kuinka “Jaikusta kehkeytyi Buzz” ja mainitsee, että Tim O’Reillyn artikkeli on lukemisen arvoinen. Olen samaa mieltä, vaikken ole vielä konseptille täysin lämmennyt. Paljon kiintoisia ajatuksia siitä, mitä Google ajaa Buzzilla takaa:

There are real benefits to using email as a social media platform. Just about everyone knows how to use it. — It has a global address space that allows you to find almost anyone, an address space that links people to content. It’s multi-platform, and accessible from anywhere.

TED2010 tietää taas paljon podcasteja keväälle. Niistä varmaan lisää myöhemmin. Kaksi asiaa kuitenkin jäi mieleen. Toinen oli Nokian tutkimusjohtaja Henry Tirrin haastattelu mobiilin trendeistä 5-10 vuoden säteellä. Monia ajatuksia herättäviä vastauksia ja spekulaatiota; yhtenä

Sending information bits takes more energy than computing them, which means local computing consumes less energy.

Ja sitten tietenkin Apple, jonka iPadia ei otettu mediassa kovin hyvin vastaan osin ylisuuren hypen takia. Mashablen mukaan Wired Magazinen demo pyörii iPadin päällä. Kiintoisaksi asian tekee se, että AIR on web-teknologioita ja Flashiä hyväkseen käyttävä ajoympäristö, eli AIR tulee, muttei Flashiä selaimeen?

iPad / iSlate / iBook / iTablet / iGuide ?

Steve Jobs pitää Applen lehdistötilaisuuden kahdeksantoista tunnin kuluttua (tänään ti 27.1.2010 klo 20 Suomen aikaa). McGraw-Hillin toimitusjohtaja varmisti juuri huomisen Applen Tabletin julkistuksen. Nimeä ei tälle tuotteelle vielä ole, vaikkakin otsikossa olevia nimiä on spekulaatioissa esiintynyt, joista osa onkin Applen rekisteröimiä.

(from Mashable)

Apple Tablet Mockup

Tabletit
Tabletit eivät itsessään ole uusi keksintö. Alan Kayn Dynabook -konsepti vuodelta 1970 on ensimmäisiä kuvauksia dynaamisista kirjoista. Apple Insiderin artikkeli tarjoaa loistavan katsauksen tablettien historiaan lukuisine graafeineen: The inside track on Apple’s tablet: a history of tablet computing. Lukemisen arvoinen on myös Gruberin artikkeli Daring Fireballissa: The Tablet.

Nykyisen PC:n tuominen pieneen kosketusnäytölliseen laitteeseen sellaisenaan ei ole osoittautunut toimivaksi ratkaisuksi. Applen lisäksi muutkin valmistajat yrittävät markkinoille uuden sukupolven laitteilla (elektronisista kirjoista kirjoitukseni lopussa). Näistä esimerkkinä Dellin konsepti sekä huhuttu Google/HTC -tabletti. Olisiko Applen iPhonen päälle rakentama käyttöliittymä ja ekosysteemi kuitenkin ensimmäinen varsinainen askel?

Konseptit
En muista artikkelia, mutta joku mainitsi julkaisijoiden vieneen kirjailijoiden ja toimittajien vapauden. Tämä lienee verrattavissa siihen, mitä levy-yhtiöt tekivät musiikille. Olisiko nyt webin aikakautena mahdollista siirtyä eteenpäin? Itse odotan julkaisuliiketoiminnan murrosta. Pienenä aamurutiineihini kuului aina Hesarin lukeminen (sekä tietenkin kuukausittainen Tieteen Kuvalehti). Viimeisten vuosien aikana suurin osa uutisten ja artikkeleiden lukemisesta on kohdallani siirtynyt webiin. Tämä on johtanut lähes pakonomaiseen tarpeeseen kahlata läpi satoja päivittäisiä artikkeleita joita Google Readeriin ilmestyy. Lisäksi kaipaan toimituksellista sisältöä ja taustoitusta artikkeleihin, joita vain harvoissa uutisissa on. Osa aikakauslehdistä tätä tarjoaisi, mutten ole löytänyt pahemmin aikaa näille. Mieluummin luen ns. rauhallisina hetkinä kaunokirjallisuutta.

Hyvä tapa tutustua mahdollisiin käyttöliittymiin on lukaista läpi New York Timesin artikkeli joulukuun lopulta ja katsoa alla olevat konseptivideot elektronisesta aikakauslehdestä (Time Inc.:in Sports Illustrated sekä Bonnier).

Elektroniset kirjat
Vuosi 2009 kului lukuisten elektronisten kirjojen ilmestyessä markkinoille: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sonyn Reader ja viimeisimpänä Skiff Reader ovat esimerkkejä laitteista, jotka perustuvat elektroniseen paperiin (tabletit taasen käyttävät tavallisia nestekidenäyttöjä). En usko, että näistä on massamarkkinoille, vaikkakin USAssa Kindle ja Nook ovat myyneet ilmeisen hyvin. Asetelmaa saattaa muuttaa joustava paperi, jollaisia on tulossa markkinoille mahdollisesti vielä tämän vuoden kuluessa:

(from Inhabitat)

LG:n joustava elektroninen paperi

Aikeenani oli kirjoittaa laajempi katsaus julkaisuliiketoimintaan, mutta jotenkin Applen julkistus ehti väliin. Ehkä onkin parempi punnita markkina uudestaan huomisen jälkeen ja palata aiheeseen myöhemmin.

Nokia Morph – a nanotechnology device concept

Nokia unveiled Morph, joint nanotechnology concept developed by Nokia Research Center and the University of Cambridge, on Monday 25th. From Nokia’s press release:

“Morph is a concept that demonstrates how future mobile devices might be stretchable and flexible, allowing the user to transform their mobile device into radically different shapes. It demonstrates the ultimate functionality that nanotechnology might be capable of delivering: flexible materials, transparent electronics and self-cleaning surfaces.”

I find these kinds of releases stirring; they push us to think a few moments outside the box. It is also amazing to see what is the human capable of creating.

Morph Wrist
Morph in wrist mode. (image from Nokia)

Morph Open
The same device in open mode. (image from Nokia)

We have some of these technologies already in use like self-cleaning windows (wiper-free windshields are on their way) and researchers are reporting about further advancements like clothes that clean themselves. What is the next big thing?

Possibilities with design and user interfaces with Morph are endless. Devices become context aware and part of us. These are steps to some stage of transhumanism, which is actually one topic I’m going to cover before summer. Let’s finish with a video demonstrating the Morph concept:

Best Handsets from 95 € to 390 €

Welcome to year 2008. Starting today, I’m trying to catch up and be back to the normal once a week pace. First posts will cover some gadget recommendations and software tips.

Let’s start with handsets. Below you’ll find four great phones from which the last three qualifies as smartphones. All the devices are stylish and perfect for everyday use – depending on one’s needs. I have personally tested all the four and can recommend them. Click on phone model for technical specifications and prices are for unlocked devices in Finland including VAT (22 %).

Nokia 2630 – 95 €

  • Very nice and thin (9.9 mm, only 66 g) dual-band phone with GPRS
  • Bluetooth for syncing (address book and calendar works seamlessly with OS X)
  • Email with IMAP (Google Mail is the only you need)
  • VGA camera (640 x 480 pixel) and FM radio

Nokia 6120 Classic – 220 €

  • One of the smallest S60 devices (15 mm, 89 g) with 3G
  • QVGA display (320 x 240 pixel)
  • 2 megapixel camera (1600 x 1200 pixel)

Nokia E51 – 290 €

  • As the 6120 Classic but adds Wi-Fi and some features (12 mm, 100 g)
  • Nokia’s 6120 Classic and E51 both prove how diminutive S60 smartphones can be, including a decent keypad and a decent battery

Apple iPhone – 390 €

  • Surprisingly well sized (11.6 mm, 135 g), fits perfectly in pocket
  • Gorgeous 3.5-inch Multi-Touch display (480 x 320 pixel)
  • 2 megapixel camera (1600 x 1200 pixel)
  • 8 Gb of internal memory and all the basic stuff like EDGE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Easy to jailbrake and unlock (with the latest firmware 1.1.3 there are still some issues)

Handsets
Heights: 105 mm for 2630 & 6120 and 115 mm for E51 & iPhone (images are courtesy of Nokia and Apple).

Nokia: Go Play

I’ve covered all the big mobile/IT launches and make no exception this time. Yesterday a few friends working at Nokia told about the Nokia press conference held in London on the same day and how the organization felt a little ashamed about the public presence of their company.

The conference is available as a webcast including Kallasvuo, Öistämö and Vanjoki presenting the New Nokia. Besides the so so English speaking capabilities the major problem with the webcast is camera working. Or the total lack of it. Watching a static video recorded miles away from the scene is not a nice experience.

The presentation starts with a concept of 4th screen: screen (basically the way we experience and see) evolution starting from public places via television to computers and now finally mobile phones. Mobile devices are becoming the most popular platform for people to enjoy digital content and share their experiences. No denying.

Nokia Ovi

Nokia is transforming to a service company and this was the main message carried out. Finally Nokia seems to be thinking beyond the device; services and complete experience. Vanjoki presented a new umbrella brand for Nokia’s Internet Services: Ovi (a Finnish word meaning “the door”), which will include web communities, Nokia Music and N-Gage parts. So mobile is about personality. The device is many times the first thing you touch in the morning (stopping the alarm) and the last when going to sleep (setting the alarm). Music plays a big role in Nokia’s vision. iTunes revolutionized the distribution and Nokia is now in the game with Ovi platfrom launching in november. During the conference two new music phones were introduced accompanied by two new multimedia computers with a new S60 interface. There were some words about future Nokia devices too: starting in next year, Nokia is entering the touch screen world and a concept was presented (we have seen this before):

On of the most hyped things, location based services, seems to be still years ahead. I’m slowly approaching “update all your gadgets” time, but iPhone needs an update and digital cameras have to include GPS chips before I can make any moves. Fortunately the phase of development is rapid, and we might see a hint of the future next week (September 5th), when Apple is having a Special Event where it is expected to launch Mac OS X -based iPods.

Nokia 6120 Classic

Those of you who are in search for a new handset, there might be a new model to be considered. Cool and feature rich devices exist, but a base model with all the necessary features with a price around 300€ are best value for money. My personal recommendation has been Nokia E50, but today as I played a little with the latest models this changed. Nokia 6120 Classic is one of the newest 3G handsets; really small and light (89g), full featured S60 device with HSDPA, 2 megapixel camera, flash and priced at 260€ (in Finland; including taxes). Check this out.

Nokia 6210
This is the one to go while waiting for iPhone.

Update: I found a blog entry with instructions to use Nokia 6120 Classic with Mac.

The Future of Symbian

Back to mobile. Anyone using Nokia S60 device probably agree that there is something wrong with the software. There has been some speculation in the mobile industry that Nokia would abandon Symbian and move to another OS like Linux. Now there is some more evidence as “Sources close to Nokia say that Symbian is secretly regarded inside the company – even among high level senior executives – as a “peace-of-shit-OS” in an article titled: Readers Write About Symbian, OS X and the iPhone.

While speculating on this I found an article from All About Symbian including interesting facts about what went wrong with N-Gage and what is different in Nokia’s second attempt with Next Gen gaming platform: Nokia Next Gen: Learning the lessons from N-Gage.

Enough of mobile and IT; the next few posts will be about marketing, space and Dubai.

Nokia’s Future Mobile Concepts

Nokia World was held in Amsterdam November 2006. Nokia’s Chief Designer Alastair Curtis, who joined the company in 1993, shared some of the concepts behind the Nokia Design philosophy. He also showed some concept videos about where the mobile communication might head in the forthcoming years:

Check out the other three videos from YouTube (posted by NokiaDesign). I actually was watching Kurtis’ presentation last summer at Aula 2006 – Movement (Kinopalatsi, Helsinki).

iPhone – Software Replaces Hardware

Apple Inc. (former Apple Computers Inc.) introduced iPhone this Tuesday at Macworld San Fransisco. As the extreme buzz around the device continues I’m making my own contribution as a blog is not really a blog without an iPhone story. The question remains what is there to say that hasn’t been said already everywhere else on the web? Well probably nothing but hopefully you’ll find some inspiring links and analysis. To start with, Time has an interesting article covering the development of the Apple iPhone.


Apple Inc. – iPhone

Before
The general consensus was that iPhone is to be released at Macworld but majority was waiting for a more traditional device. At least for me the new interface was something not expected; only wished. Concepts around touch screen interfaces have been around for a while like the Black Box concept by BenQ-Siemens & Onyx Concept by Synaptics. The electronic touch interface was invented in 1971 and after that touch screens have been widely used. However they often feel clumsy and slow as one finger can be used at a time. Touch interfaces might be not very suitable for large surfaces other than sketching boards but for handhelds they are definitely the way to go (some problems probably arise when trying to use in winter with gloves). With the latest mobile phones (like S60 devices) navigating is a long process: searching with eyes, locating it with cursor and finally entering the function. When using a touch screen it is possible immediately choose the right operation.

Software Replaces Hardware
The innovation of the iPhone is its incredible multi touch interface and fantastic integration with iTunes. Probably the best working demonstration of an interface-free, touch-driven computer screen is made by Jeff Han (Ted Talks, February 2006) – highly recommended! As Jeff’s presentation show, big about multi touch is gestures – no more of that one finger pushing. It becomes all about feeling. I’m eagerly looking forward to test the Apple’s device. If it works it’s going to revolutionize the mobile industry. Not by sales figures but new ideas and creative thinking. Also updating new programs with unique interfaces is possible when there is no hardware tied to.

Closed System
Jobs quote from New York Times article makes it quite clear why the environment is a closed system (no 3rd party apps): “We define everything that is on the phone. You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.”. This is also interesting as Nokia has renamed their N-series to multimedia computers and Jobs says he don’t want people to think of iPhone as a computer. Nokia’s strategy is to be the center when Apple’s is computer centric – Mac(/PC) acting as a hub. Back to the issue. In the long run I believe that the platform is being opened at least for some widgets. Now it’s too early as the system is not user tested. In future I would like to see some new input methods as well – QWERTY keyboard is not the way to go.

Remaining Questions
iPhone is not about technology but usability. However a few vital questions remain as the first model of the phone is a gadget; not a mass market device mainly because of the cost. To be perfect for my personal everyday use at least the following should be verified:

  • Does the Web browser support Flash or Java? – No. Likely to be added.
  • Can it open Word and Excel documents? – No. (Can open PDF files, though).
  • Does the camera record video? – No. Apple may add this feature by June.
  • iTunes songs as ringtones? – No. Definitely going to change.
  • Voice over IP support? – No, Can be enabled but Cingular is the problem here.
  • Voice recognition/dialing/memos? – No. Could change by June when the phone ships.

At least it connects to standard iPod accessories like car docks and speaker systems. And when GPS and 3G for video calls are added then what more can you ask for?

Nokia
What does all of this mean to Nokia. In short term not much for Mobiles and E-series but Nseries is a different matter. Kallasvuo was stating in his CES keynote only a day before Jobs announcement that Nseries phones are “well designed and easy to use”. For example Nokia’s N95 (coming in March) is truly state of the art device – technologically. Mr. Vanjoki’s, EVP of Nokia Multimedia, last sentence in commentary on the just released iPhone was that “it is missing 3G, a crucial function”. 3G is not a function it is a technology (and it’s good to remember that the 3G coverage in US is limited and Jobs mentioned in his keynote that 3G is coming). I have always used Nokia phones (Nokia 3110, 6210, 3510i, 6230 and E50). My E50 has no 3G or WiFi as there is no real use for them at the moment. Later this is to be changed and maybe it is time to try out something else – maybe an iPhone?


Nokia N95