The new YouTube app

As you may know, last month Apple stated that their license with Google to include the YouTube app pre-installed on iOS devices has ended. What does this mean for you? Well, if you have an iOS device, you can get the new YouTube app from the app store right now. After installing it, you’ll notice it’s slightly different to the Android app with the main feed – you can opt out of Google’s non-subscription based suggestions. That is, you can stick with just seeing uploads from people you subscribe to in your main stream, rather than also see what they comment on, what they rate, and what they add to playlists. Personally, I welcome ¬†this for two reasons; one being that with YouTube preloading on Android bumps subscribed uploads off the list in preference for newer activity which is just someone commenting on a video, and secondly, the entire activity list resulted in browsing through a lengthy stream of potentially uninteresting material.

The animations also feel a bit slicker than the Android ones in that it bounces a bit rather than just sliding to the side, resulting in the new iOS app feeling more polished and thought-out than the Android one.


What I miss about Windows Phone 7

So, as those of you who may follow me on Twitter, you might have gathered that I now have the HTC One S, a month or two earlier than I said I’d move on from the Trophy. So, I’ve now been using the One S with Android 4.0.3 and Sense 4 for nearly a week, and am certainly missing several WP7 elements.
When I moved on from WinMo to WP7, I was missing a lot. No multitasking, no IRC app that worked properly, hardly any customizability. However, I adapted. I learnt to live with the closed ecosystem and the pitiful amount of non-expandable storage. In fact, I must take a minute here to thank Microsoft for preparing me for the One S’s limited amount of storage space, which, when using the same syncing ethos as I used with the Trophy, has made me think that there is ample storage space.
So, after that slight diversion, what do I miss about Windows Phone 7, or, what do I find annoying about Android?

1) Awful smiley keyboard. Look, I use smileys a lot, and I much prefer, for example, colon P, rather than colon dash P. On the Trophy, straight from the alphabetical keyboard screen, I could tap a smiley button and instantly add any of two pages of very diverse smiley choices that pandered to anybody’s tastes.


The first page of smileys on WP7. The button to the left of Space is there on the alphabetical keyboard to instantly get to smileys.

To type colon P on the One S with the Sense keyboard, I can do one of two things. 1, tap and hold the period key, then shift then P. Or 2, hit 12#, 1/2, ūüėõ, ABC. Either way is long winded and rather stressful. Stressful in that typing a smiley should be a thoughtless task, a break from the mental exertion of typing and trying to get autocorrect to stay away from words it isn’t welcome to touch.

2) It isn’t friendly. WP7 was a very apologetic operating system, all the errors seemed sincere and as if they were to blame rather than the user. But that isn’t my main point here. When I got a text message, the Trophy would buzz and the screen would stay off. Then, when I took it out of my jacket’s top pocket, the screen would warmly turn on within a certain time frame and I could see the text. With the One S, as far as I have tried, it doesn’t do that. I liked that feature, it meant I could just lift the phone briefly out of my pocket, see the text, and let it drop back down into my pocket, without pressing a single button. Coincidentally, once again, WP7 providing a way of doing things with as little exertion as possible.

3) Live tiles. Now, I don’t miss this as much as some people may if they made the transition, but it was nice having tiles on the home screen automatically update. I had and have an unlimited data plan, so I am not at all bothered by the system fetching new data. The HTC people hub doesn’t seem to automatically update, which just adds.waiting time for the user.

There are other such minor things as the lack of a hardware shutter button, the space bar being far too keen to insert a . between words (the double tap space timing on iOS is perfect, the Sense one waits no time at all before inserting a period, and I’m a pretty fast typer). Also, the Sense app drawer is unbelievably unintuitive. I know I can order it by install date etc., but on iOS you customize the entire layout, and on WP7 you can jump to the letter in the alphabet. All in all, the shortcomings are bearable, though the lack of a fast smiley keyboard is infuriating. Congratulations Microsoft, in hindsight, you created a very friendly and usable OS. The dictionary may have got in the way all the time, but all in all, it was how a smartphone should be. Smart.

HTC website refusing to publish my review, claiming “inappropriate language”

I have just spent a fair amount of time painstakingly spilling my views on my current phone to the HTC form-based review system. However, when it came to clicking “Preview”, it rejects my review, citing “We’re sorry, but we have encountered the following issue(s):¬†Your review text contains inappropriate language.” Does it tell me where? Well, it does to the extent of ‘which box on the form the offending text is in’, but any further than that is anybody’s guess amongst the 722 word-long review.

Please feel free therefore to read what I wrote, copied below, and please¬†do point out to me where the “inappropriate¬†language” is. Was it because I ticked the “no” box for “Do you recommend this product?” ???

Features? WP7 rather limits that, but with Mango it’s a bit more bearable (though don’t expect any proper multitasking, and do expect it to get slow).

Ease of use? Well, WP7 is seemingly designed for kids, which doesn’t help. Also, If you have a reading age above that of a two-year-old, you’ll constantly be frustrated by it changing real, legitimate words that you type, with ones that are irrelevant and simple. The so-called ‘dictionary’ and keyboard fill up about 80% of the screen, and if you want to type in say, IM+, say goodbye to being able to see anything other than the keyboard and word ‘suggestions’ in landscape view. The auto ‘correct’ is a complete nightmare for even the slowest typer, especially with the form OVER function keyboard design. Always tapping space, backspace, enter… always when you aren’t trying to.

Battery life? Appalling. Doesn’t last me through the day, its usually turned on power saver by midday. I bought a 3500mAh battery for it, which makes it last a whole day, but ruins the entire form-factor of the device, which brings me on to…

Design. Beautiful. The actual design of this phone is, in my opinion, the best looking of ANY Windows Phone out there, 7.0 or 7.5. If you don’t mind your battery dying after some usage, you’ll really appreciate the elegant stealthy design of this phone. It is rather prone to scratches all over, including the screen, and I’d buy a second battery cover if I were you, y’know, one to pop on when showing it off to people rather than showing them the smudged, scratched, and soon-to-be-incomplete “HTC” lettering, as it will inevitably fall off. Not that I personally show my Trophy off of course, I don’t find it anything to boast about, as it’s not just the cover…

It’s the rest of the book. The OS can become ridiculously sluggish. I’ve been using Windows Mobile since WinMo 2003 and this is my fourth Microsoft-powered pocket device, so I’m no stranger to the inevitable slowness. However, WP7 removes all the power-user functionality of WinMo, and replaces it with an undeniably smooth and original UI. However, it still slows down. Just try having internet sharing turned on and three devices linked, see your battery vanish and the tiles on the Start screen take time to jitteringly load. I know that would slow it down, but even when you don’t do that it can just get really slow.

Also, syncing with the Zune software can welcome you to a new hell you thought was only possible with iTunes. It’s not awful, but it can be incredibly restrictive.

Now onto the pros… the speakers, so long as you have the right setting in the HTC sound enhancer on (personally I find Dolby Mobile for phone speakers and SRS enhancement for headphones provides the fullest, clearest sound), they are superb. The entire design looks fantastic, and I genuinely do find this phone to be the perfect size, the screen is ample enough for videos, but doesn’t even come close to bordering on the tablet-size phones that are becoming increasingly common nowadays. You will probably find yourself accidentally brushing your hand on one of the capacitive buttons though, pulling you right out of whatever app you were in. My Trophy’s screen is pretty scratched, but unlike my iPod it isn’t at all noticeable when the screen is on.

The bottom line is, if you aren’t a power user but are a “social fiend” with a good sense of taste, this IS the phone for you. It looks really nice, it’s fast if all you do is social stuff (the “what’s new” area on the people hub can keep you in the know with everything on twitter and facebook all in one fluid feed).

if you do:

-Facebook updating (text or photos)

-Facebook liking and commenting (as well as viewing text and photos)

-Tweeting (posting and replying/retweeting)

-Quickly emailing people

-Snapping a quick photo of a passable quality

-Like listening to music with the opportunity to use great inbuilt speakers

-Like getting to everything quickly

-Group people’s social streams, e.g. twitter and Facebook view of just your closest friends,…

…then you will love this phone. If you are looking for a business phone or a device to heavily consume media on, look somewhere else.”

Please HTC, I’m begging you.

First off, happy new year. Secondly, long time no see. Sorry about that, but there hasn’t been much happening in the world of Apple. Next, apologies for the following post not being Apple-related, I just find it stress relieving to air views like these.

As you may have read before, my main mobile phone at the moment is an HTC 7 Trophy. Before that, I had an HTC Touch Pro2, and before that, a Qtek 9100 (effectively an HTC Wizard). I also have a 3rd generation iPod Touch running iOS 5.0.1.

Windows Mobile always did what I needed. Well, it did what I needed in its hey-day, but when the web became more social, I became more restricted. The Qtek was fine for IRC and the odd tweet from Opera Mini, but I wanted something a little less brick-like. After having several years of productive joy with a physical landscape keyboard, I knew there was no alternate. So, I went for the latest Windows Mobile phone by HTC that had a landscape keyboard. Now I was able to have a fair amount of storage (the Wizard’s miniSD card slot never seemed to work) and less of a brick in my pocket. I missed the presence of a tab key, but a five row keyboard and tilting springing screen was worth the sacrifice. Now, firstly, who at HTC thought this phone had adequate specs?? I know I’ve gone on about this before at great length, but SERIOUSLY?? If you can’t run TouchFlo 3D smoothly all the time, the phone doesn’t have good specs. Being one of the few who actually utilises WinMo to its full potential, I had to disable TouchFlo. I am not alone when I say that on boot, 48%+ of the RAM was in use; and it NEVER drops below that. So, it was a painfully sluggish device and for a 2009 phone, really didn’t cut it on the twitter etc. front.

Some of you may remember my initial hatred for Windows Phone 7 when Microsoft announced it. Well, there was no way in hell I was sailing over to the Android ship, and there was no better WinMo device. Well, the HD2 isn’t bad and I do really want one, but it wouldn’t be a large enough step forward. I decided to go a little different and go for a phone with no physical keyboard. I still regret that choice on a daily basis when, for example, I’m busy pressing enter rather than backspace or send. I have an unwritten list of about five things I would really like to see in WP7, which I doubt I’ll be seeing any time soon. I loved the openness and flexibility of Windows Mobile, and after years and years with WinMo (even before the Qtek) and a year of jail broken iOS, I didn’t quite feel like stepping into a world arguably more locked-down than iOS. However, I made the leap and I don’t fully regret it.
The Trophy is undeniably a lovely looking phone. It doesn’t have any naff silver stick-on grille or buttons where the icons get rubbed off. What it does have is a perfect hand-held size (and I mean PERFECT), nice weight to it, classy slim silver outline around the screen (not quite the bezel?) and a simple-yet-elegant feel to it, but beneath the battery cover conceals its bit of orange flair. Unfortunately, mine does have rather a bit of cosmetic damage as it was second hand, but nothing to stop functionality. Whoever it was at HTC who designed this phone deserves a huge reward, as this phone beats all the typical HTC mode of plastic/rubber/metal/easily-damaged.
I can’t take a good photo (typically blurred from slight motion) and does holding the focus button make a difference when recording a video, or is that just me thinking it does to pass the time while it automatically tries (and fails) to re-focus. So, the camera isn’t great (true, but the shutter button is perfect). As everyone else, I too keep accidentally touching the capacitive buttons, especially the search button. I don’t like being trapped in an operating system. Yes, it makes you feel like there’s less chance of it going wrong, but I like freedom. I liked being able to transfer a file onto the microSD card of the TP2 with any computer instantly. And then I’d be able to open the file, in whatever I like. On WP7? No. It would be nice if there was an expansion slot, as it’s a real pleasure to watch, say, a TV episode on the Trophy’s screen rather than the iPod, but 8GB vs 64GB? iPod wins hands down. Well, TCPMP never worked smoothly on the TP2 and putting videos on the Trophy makes iTunes seem like a breeze. WP7 is great at keeping me in touch, mostly, and is incredibly fluid at performing social sharing tasks. Exceedingly slick. When the Titan was announced, I thought “imagine TV shows on a screen that size…”. And I still held that longing desire for the Titan… until I used one. It’s beyond big. I knew it was big, but it’s not big, it’s huge.

Look, my sincerest apologies Microsoft, we’ve had a really good run for goodness knows how long, but you just didn’t quite keep up when Android appeared. You thought you had, but all you did was create a better version of iOS. I remember your USP for WP7, and how I loathed the adverts. Then I owned a WP7 device, and accepted just how slick it was. Then I updated to Mango, and saw that you had abandoned the unique slickness and were trying to head down the other path and catch up with iOS and Android. Fair enough,

“the public gets what the public wants.”

“But I want nothing this society’s got”

The phone I want doesn’t exist. The mobile OS I want has been murdered. And it was a homicide, not a suicide. I don’t want to ditch the Trophy, as while it doesn’t do all the job, what it does do it does perfectly. The iPod fills my media needs just about. But I do think that Android is on the horizon for me… I would say “okay, if not the Titan, then the Sensation XL”. Umm, it’s white. And slow. And a complete copy of the Titan. The Titan looks good in black, just like the Trophy. I really don’t want a white phone. You know what was a factor of me being put off the Titan? The phone right next to it was the XL. Same price, same physical features. I had known for a long time about how much of a copy it was, but seriously? I’m fairly sure HTC will have lost more than one potential Titan customer due to “well, the Android version is exactly the same, and Android can do more”. But HTC didn’t let the XL do more on the hardware side. On that front, the XL sucks, so that’s no contender either. And whilst I would be lost without my iPod, I really don’t see myself being able to cope with an iPhone. So, until July, I shall be sticking with the Trophy. Please HTC, have a GOOD Android phone out then. One that is genuinely good. Better than the Droid 4 (doesn’t take much effort beating), better than the Galaxy S II. Something genuinely brilliant. I want a good camera, a physical shutter button (two-stage like the Trophy), microUSB, a microSD slot, 1GB+ RAM, 1.5GHz+ single core/1GHz+ dual core (per-core clock speed, not total), lovely design (same colour scheme as the Trophy would be nice), and a large-but-not-as-large-as-the-Titan screen. I suppose a device that looks like the Trophy, perhaps a teeny bit bigger screen, 0.1/0.2 inches bigger perhaps? Do what you want with the four OS control buttons, as I can’t decide, but please make them look nice if they’re physical. Oh, and a directional pad of some sort would be fantastic ūüėÄ Look, if you bring out a device like that, I’m fairly sure you’ll gain a LOT of fans. Everyone who cares about mobile phones has a phone like this on their mind, but to them and I it’s just a wild dream. Please make it a reality.

7 days of Windows Phone 7

(yes, I know I’m late posting this for it to have been 7 days, but I got a bit delayed)

After using Windows Phone 7 for 7 days (so far it’s actually 11 days), I have found it to be a speedy and efficient mobile OS. Whilst it is missing many key features that made be long to return to Windows Mobile or even leap to Android, I made do.

  • It’s great for communication. The speed I can now send a text message or manage emails is amazing. The¬†on-screen keyboard is rather¬†annoyingly¬†small and it is very easy to tap the wrong button , but it’s still bearable (and I can imagine it’s a lot more comfortable to type on the HTC Titan)
  • It’s great for media. Yes, videos (seemingly) need to be converted, but let’s put it this way. The Zune software is a LOT more bearable than iTunes. The limited amount of storage space on WP7 devices can get annoying but isn’t too bad to be a major annoyance. To get a video onto the phone, just plug it into the computer, the Zune software starts, drag and drop the file from the Zune library onto the phone icon in the Zune software and then wait. Simple.
  • The multitasking is¬†rather¬†annoying in WP 7.5. It’s like the iOS 3 to iOS 4 update, where app developers slowly and NOT surely release multitasking capable updates. I’m not quite sure why Microsoft would have wanted to follow this path, especially after seeing how it worked out for Apple.
On the whole, it seems to be the most efficient mobile OS for communication by far. However, it does have many drawbacks and I do have to frequently turn back to Windows Mobile when I really need to get something done properly.

My new computer’s name :P

Right, firstly, (to fill you in) I name the technology I own after characters in the Matrix (hey ,it’s one of the best films ever and most people DO name their technology after something, and normally the same something, a film, an area of science, animals, who knows :p). Here’s the list of used names so far:

  • Neo – My better HP ZV5000. It’s six years old and still has the shelf specs. Unfortunately, it’s also my primary computer, hence my constant PC woes.
  • Trinity – The slightly worse spec ZV5000. Currently resides in a cupboard, but if I had about ¬£80 spare I would turn it into a decent server.
  • Morpheus – The late great Tiny (yes, that was the name of the company). It’s from 2001, but last year I swapped most of the internal parts for some newer ones. However, after two functioning months, the motherboard shorted (by itself). The (now empty) case currently resides on top of a bookcase:

(click on image to see more of the 'funeral')

  • ¬†Link – The router, naturally ūüėõ
  • Operator – My Touch Pro2
  • Tank – The Qtek 9100 (as someone once said it was a “tank of a phone” (it’s rather large))
As you can see, most of the good names have been taken. However, I will hopefully be getting ¬†a new desktop PC soon, and it needs a name. I think it would be in rather poor taste to name it ‘Morpheus’ (as the PC called Morpheus is dead), so the next best names left are ‘Agent Smith’ or ‘Oracle’. Given my distaste for the Oracle Corporation, it looks like it will have to be called ‘Agent Smith’, but that is rather awkward to constantly type, and shortening it to ‘Smith’ just sounds plain :/ Maybe ‘Agent’ for short?

My opinion on Google Music

Mainly, I don’t really see me having a use for it. I listen to my music on three devices, my HTC Touch Pro2 (phone and pocket computer, also only thing with ‘reliable’ internet access), my iPod Touch (holds my whole library from it’s state in 2009, but can’t sync so it’s an outdated collection) and my laptop (internal HDD is only 40GB, so almost all music is stored across two external 500GB drives, but the laptop never moves so portability isn’t an issue). My iPod says “431 Songs”. In total, I probably have around 550. When out and about, I use my phone for music as one of it’s few good features is it has dual speakers with amazing quality (whereas the iPod isn’t powerful or particularly crisp when outside). Okay, I guess that could be seen as the perfect opportunity for Google Music. I only have about 30 songs on my phone’s storage card, so it’s hardly convenient to listen too music of my choosing. My laptop is my music ‘hub’. All music is on it, but it goes nowhere. This would seem to set the perfect scene for a Google Music usage opportunity. However, my main issue is internet. I don’t really have an Internet connection. Well, it’s on and off. Mostly off (long story). Pretty much all tweeting, blogging, e-mailing, browsing, IRCing etc. is done on my phone. I do sometimes tether my phone to my laptop, but that ends up somehow burning through at least 100MB in two hours. Carriers in the UK don’t quite understand the idea of ‘unlimited’ or ‘fair’. 500MB a month isn’t good enough for any phone made after 2008 (approximately). Or maybe it’s just that I in particular need to access everything online via it. Well, imagine if your data cap on your broadband was 500MB a month. You probably wouldn’t cope. I’m not getting at anyone here, or trying to make you feel I’m hard done by. I am trying to switch to the 3 network, who while not being famous for coverage, would appear to offer truly unlimited data. So, when I’m on the go, I can’t just stream my music due to the data cap. Oh, and nothing that’s fancy online works on Windows Mobile. So, I’d have to tether my iPod to my phone and use that for streaming. Which means no awesome speakers. And it means my phone would have to be switched on permanently (if I turn the screen off, wifi goes off, so tethering stops). The battery, to put it bluntly, doesn’t last long.

Maybe it’s just my specific situation that makes me dislike it. I suppose I see an ‘end’, there’s just no means (as in a means to an end. Google Music would be the solution to my slight music problem). If I lived in America with slightly nicer carriers, and if I had an array of devices that weren’t a) knackered b) incompatible and c) outdated, maybe I would use it.

I guess part of my ‘beef’ with it is that it’s Google. They do search. And adverts to monetize the search. And email to also increase ad revenues. And maps to provide a feature-full platform… Okay, maybe they don’t just do search. But Music? They killed newspapers (allegedly). Apple killed the singles with iTunes. That is a pity. I like having the thing physically. A film on DVD always feels more worth it than if it was purchased of iTunes. Same with books and music. But, digital does have a great benefit. Portability.
If it was Amazon Music, I probably wouldn’t oppose it as much. Google do seem to be trying to improve everybody’s lives in every possible way. But remember, they’re a 14 year old search engine.

Apple suing Amazon

And this time, it’s for perfectly founded reasons (Apple suing people, not specifically Amazon in the past). Amazon are creating an ‘Appstore’ that will allow apps to be sold via Android. Apparently, these will be proper apps, not just ‘book stuff’.