Tag Archives: apple

Windows Phone 8.1 vs. iOS 7: a personal dilemma

Update 11.08: thanks to Michael, Ivan, Simon and everyone else that’s offered workarounds for my various cons. The Pros list is expanding and I am increasingly sold!! My apologies to Amanda for boring you endlessly with phone chat…

I have been a (reluctantly) loyal iOS devotee since the 3GS came out, and have struggled to even look at rival OS – I was burned by the gradual deterioration of Windows Mobile in the mid 2000s, never convinced by the sluggish responsiveness of even the fastest Android phones (and the updates flowing to my Nexus 7 tablet – a gift – haven’t convinced me it will improve). However, of late, the flagging battery life of my ageing iPhone 5 (needs 2-3 charges a day depending on usage), and the phenomenal lack of joy you get from a new handset (oh… it looks and acts exactly like the old one), as well as the inevitable obsolescence caused by ageing handsets and upgraded operating systems, AND the crippling cost of an upgrade…. well, you get the picture.

TL, DR – I bought an older Lumia 925 handset and am trying it out. If I hate it and go back to the iOS fold, it can go back on eBay and I should make most of my money back (it’s already lost most of its year one resale depreciation value).

So, making a list of the things I like and dislike about it, with a view to weighing them up and thinking about a more permanent ecosystem shift. Let me know if I’ve missed anything to test, or you know a workaround to one of my cons, or you think I’ve missed a ‘pro’ on anything in particular. I’ll update this list ‘live’ over the next few weeks as I test it properly.

Updated list (11.08.14):


  • Beautiful screen
  • Slick UI, v natural interface, live tiles are helpful, searching through apps is cool
  • Very responsive typing, swype is remarkable
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS
  • Battery life is better – not ridiculously so but noticeably. Even running 10k using GPS (1h10 mins of GPS usage) the battery lasts through to the evening. And as you can imagine, with the new OS I am playing with it a LOT and unnecessarily so
  • Here maps is amazing! Local storage limits need to draw on data transfer for a variety of mapping services, e.g. Caledo (run keeper integrated running app)
  • Lock screen / photo rotation feature is lovely – love that it can draw on Facebook albums
  • 4G on O2 (Need iPhone 5S or 6 for that) – blisteringly fast
  • OneDrive >> iCloud as far as I can see, if I can get used to using it
  • IE actually seems pretty fast
  • App multitasking in most regards seems superior – apps genuinely ‘suspend’ unlike the iPhone which seems to have suffered greatly with the introduction of background app refresh. Lovely feature with the voice/music apps that they pause when voice notifications come in (e.g. running app telling you your splits pauses audible whilst playing, or music, or whatever) rather than speaking over it (as iPhone does)
  • I actually already prefer email handling in Windows phone – the left tap / multi-select option is actually quicker to use than repeatedly swipe/deleting emails in iPhone (and I know iPhone has an equivalent, but who uses it?)
  • I also like unlinked mailbox options – didn’t think I would but separating the personal from the professional is good for my work/life balance
  • DLNA projection via Nokia play-to doesn’t require an Apple TV or changing channels – just works. Not for all apps, but to be fair – we mainly use it to share pics and videos
  • 1 year old hardware feels new with new software (unlike Apple, most of the time) although see note re: camera responsiveness
  • Whilst I initially disliked Kindle’s nerfed capabilities (can’t open docs) I’ve discovered Tucan reader – a lovely independent ebook reader that uses the phone’s (amazing) text to speech capabilities to read stuff to you if you need it to. Much better for reading personal docs.
  • Dead heat
  • Cortana seems exactly as useful as Siri, i.e. a little but not ridiculously so. Absence of a ‘timer’ function is a fairly major omission but reminders/alarms work much to the same effect without a real-time countdown.
  • Camera picture quality seems superior but response time is worse than the iPhone so it comes out even – photos blur if you are expecting iPhone style responsiveness and don’t get it. May improve with newer hardware.

Still to be tested: 

  1. Skype video call quality
  2. High contrast mode in bright sunlight.
  3. What else? You tell me!


  • Few apps I want aren’t there in ‘proper’ versions (Feedly,  Todoist & some random lesser apps) – suspect I just need to ‘re-buy’ the premium versions of some of these. Lots of lesser apps don’t have a decent implementation at all… all in due course, no doubt. I heard that the Windows Phone app store doubled in scope in 12 months and Windows Phone’s market share is up to 10% – pretty remarkable given the trajectory it was on. I hear good things about Universal Apps too.
  • UI in some of the apps a little clunky (Facebook seems less natural)
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS (you have to go back through and correct red-underlined words that it doesn’t just guess and change for you, both a pro and a con)
  • Locks you into its ecosystem (as does Apple, to be fair)
  • Much vaunted wireless charing requires an additional case (OK, Apple doesn’t do this)
  • Screen smudging that much more obvious
  • No FaceTime or iMessage or O2 Tugo for offline / interoperating comms with, say, Amanda’s phone…
  • Limited Google ecosystem love – no Google Chrome, no native Gmail app, etc. – and I have in the past been a devotee (though obviously not of Android)
  • Camera lag – probably a consequence of the dated hardware the phone is running on, or the image stabilization which I haven’t turned off.

Original list: posted 6th August 2014


  • Beautiful screen
  • Slick UI, v natural interface, live tiles are helpful, searching through apps is cool
  • Very responsive typing
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS
  • Battery life seems better
  • Lock screen / photo rotation is lovely
  • 4G on O2 (Need iPhone 5S or 6 for that)
  • OneDrive >> iCloud as far as I can see, if I can get used to using it
  • IE actually seems blisteringly fast

As yet untested

  • Battery life – sim card adapter hasn’t arrived yet so can’t give it a proper run-in
  • Photos/camera
  • Cortana vs Siri


  • Few apps I want aren’t there in ‘proper’ versions (Feedly, Runkeeper doesn’t seem to work, Todoist & some random lesser apps)
  • UI in some of the apps a little clunky (Facebook seems less natural)
  • Less punishing autocorrect than iOS (you have to go back through and correct red-underlined words that it doesn’t just guess and change for you, both a pro and a con)
  • Kindle app doesn’t display documents
  • Haven’t figured out how to get Kindle to read to me yet / accessibility features
  • Email isn’t as intuitive (no ‘swipe to delete’, not clear if I’m archiving, deleting an email doesn’t take you to the next one in your inbox to review)
  • Locks you into its ecosystem (as does Apple, to be fair)
  • No DLNA projection / Apple TV equivalent in the 925 – and I have Apple TV and iPad
  • Much vaunted wireless charing requires an additional case (OK, Apple doesn’t do this)
  • Screen smudging that much more obvious
  • No FaceTime or iMessage or O2 Tugo for offline / interoperating comms with, say, Amanda’s phone…
  • Limited Google ecosystem love – no Google Chrome, no native Gmail app, etc. – and I am a devotee



Tasty fruit – James Grieve apples

James GrieveWe’d been debating when to pick our two apples; the varietal, a ‘James Grieve’, was described as an early season cooker, and a late season dessert apple; with only two apples making it as far as September, we didn’t want to pick too early and be left with sour fruit, or too late and end up with rotten ones!

The wind last weekend made the decision for us, however, blowing one of the massive fruit off its branch – thankfully unbruised – the second apple was duly picked and consumed.

Absolutely delicious. Crisp and sweet, somewhere a sort of Pink Lady type taste (it’s a cross between a Cox and a Pott’s seedling), it was enjoyed by all the family.

One more to go.

The anticipation we’ve had all summer of fruit ripening and being ready for consumption is beginning to diminish now. We’ve still got this year’s Blackberry picking walk to look forward to and there are still ripe blueberries on the bush, but the prospects for the greenhouse and the patch are looking dimmer as more rain falls and the days shorten.

Still, we have more potatoes to uproot, a few ripe tomatoes on the branch, and the pumpkins may last until October if I remember my Charlie Brown comics… and we’re off to a friend’s house for more substantial apple-picking this weekend – huzzah!

My 13-year mobile phone history

I’ve been described by some as an Apple fanboy of late, which is amusing for me given that for many years I avoided anything emblazoned with their iconic logo. It’s had me think back through my 13 year mobile phone history.

Of the 9 generations of phones I’ve used, and six generations of smartphones – only two come from the Apple estate (out of a total possible of four). At least one more probably will – but I’m hoping that Android will catch up by the next time I’m due for an upgrade. Anyway, for those curious, here’s a quick run-down.

The picture spin quiz!

nokia 5110220px-Nokia_7110_openert29mpx200big_spv_e200  3gs   iphone4t-mobile-mda-vario-ii-2T-Mobile-G1orange-SPV-C600

  • 1999 – Nokia 5110 – free with my first mobile contract, with Orange. Basic candy bar phone. Introduced me to the joys of Snake.
  • 2000 – Ericsson T29 – I’d really wanted a flip phone, and this was a free upgrade at a point when cash was sparse.
  • 2001 – Nokia 7110 – after the Matrix, the click-flip action of the 7110 was an exciting thing indeed. I took great pleasure in answering calls and making them, and this remains one of my favourite phone form factors.
  • 2002 – Orange SPV – the first Windows smartphone. Slow and unresponsive indubitably, amazingly poor battery life perhaps, but I discovered and grew to love pre-emptive dialling, Windows synchronisation, internet on the move and experimented with using the very first apps available for phones.
  • 2003 – Motorola MPX200 (2 months) – A desire to have a clamshell phone and a newfound love for the Windows Mobile OS (as well as a budget requirement to not pay any money for an upgrade) sent me here, and I did quite like it – but it proved fragile and when it died, Orange offered me a higher spec E200 in its stead.
  • 2003 – Orange SPV E200 – spiritual sibling to the original SPV but with a faster processor and significantly better performance. Bulky as ever but much improved.
  • 2005 – Orange C600 – my last loved Windows Mobile device. Everything from the SPV in a smaller and more elegant form factor. My last phone on Orange for a while.
  • 2007 – T-Mobile MDA Vario 2 – this broke me. Resistive touchscreen that was slow and unresponsive, massive phone… it nearly despoiled me of the touchscreen experience in its entirety. But then I tried the…
  • 2008 – T-Mobile G1 (2 weeks trial)… and I knew touch screens would be OK. But there were a number of niggles; HTC phone construction still wasn’t quite there, feeling slightly non-responsive and clunky, and Android didn’t feel as ready as I’d like after years of struggling with the not-quite-there Windows Mobile. So I finally decided to cough up the cash, move to O2 and buy the…
  • 2009 – Apple iPhone 3GS… and I finally understood the fuss. As software upgrades made the phone more unwieldy, I eBayed it and put the proceeds towards a shiny new…
  • 2010 – Apple iPhone 4… which is still doing well but will probably be replaced with an iPhone 5 when that launches – my excuse is that Amanda is now in need of a smartphone (largely for my benefit, so she can share moments with Em with me more easily).

(I may have missed one, but it clearly wasn’t that memorable!)

Breaking it down:

I’m on my 9th generation of mobile phone in 13 years, and I’ve been using ‘smartphones’ for six of those generations.

  • 5/11 phones – Windows Mobile
  • 1/11 phones – Google Android (1.5)
  • 2/11 phones – iOS
  • 2/11 phones – Nokia/Symbian
  • 1/11 phones – SE proprietary / Symbian


  • 2/11 -Nokia
  • 1/11 – Ericcson
  • 5/11 – HTC
  • 1/11 – Motorola
  • 2/11 – Apple

It may be slightly dubious to count the G1 trial, but it was my phone for two weeks and the MPX 200 only lasted marginally longer in the grand scheme of things (before it died and Orange replaced it with the SPV E200).

Where to next? Who can say. What’s your record? Are you a phone a year person? Any obvious biases/trends come up when you look at your mobile history?

Smartphone blogging at Coolsmartphone.com

CoolsmartphonePNGIt was around nine years ago that I bought my first ever smartphone – an Orange SPV, built for the French mobile company by the fledgling High Tech Corporation (spot today’s more famous acronym in there), running Microsoft Smartphone 2002 software. In the absence of a great deal of information about the new platform, I turned to a new website run by a fellow SPV fan that covered all things Microsoft Smartphone – which eventually became the popular smartphone blog Coolsmartphone.com.

Today, having abandoned the Microsoft smartphone platform in favour of the Apple beast, I’m joining a group of other enthusiasts to contribute iPhone and iPad reviews to Coolsmartphone.com. I’m grateful to Leigh Geary, the site owner – for the opportunity, and thrilled to have an outlet for my smartphone ramblings other than division6 – I suspect most faithful readers will be rather pleased that some of the smartphone updates, at least, will go elsewhere.

I’ll let you know when I get started but if there’s any app you’d like my thoughts on, let me know and I’ll look into it. I’ll mostly be looking for the charity of PRs promoting apps to send me download vouchers and/or interesting pitches to new apps (and won’t be covering any of my agency’s, Brands2Life, clients’ apps in the interests of avoiding conflicts anywhere). You can reach me on my shiny new mailbox for that – armand [at] coolsmartphone.com!

Another point against RIM

iphone 4 & BlackBerry TorchI do go on about smartphones a bit, I know, but this story just hammered home to me quite how dire the straits are for Research in Motion, makers of Blackberry, saying as it does that…

iPhones require less support than Androids and BlackBerrys.

Enterprise IT departments seem to find the iPhone the easiest platform to manage – who’d have thought it after years of people singing the benefits of BES.

I know that many enterprises, for reasons of security and performance, will shun the non-encrypted, Active-synced iPhone, but most small businesses – where the money lies in volume – may well end up going down this path. The iPhone is just so much better from a usability perspective than any Blackberry I’ve used in some time its unreal.

Apple still needs to fix offline email, though. C’mon, guys!

Apple’s iPad profits

Ipad safari browserAmused to see a bunch of articles comparing Apple’s cash pile to the US cash reserves (spoiler: Apple has more money). More interesting to me is the fact that in its last earnings, Apple had nearly matched Google’s overall quarterly profits with a single product – the iPad (I can’t find the post that crunched the numbers on this but doesn’t seem unlikely).

That is astonishing.

I feel less bad about being an Apple convert. This also made me feel better – as despite now being an Apple fan of sorts, I don’t have a wristwatch made of an iPod Touch, and I never edited a magazine about the rival operating system

Lion upgrade

Lion InstallerI upgraded the Macbook Air to OSX Lion this morning. Not much to say yet; it took a long time to download the 3.49GB upgrade, but it installed in 30 minutes during the course of which I had to unplug the Macbook – I would never dare do this on a Windows machine, but it worked fine here.

The first thing I did was disable the new reverse touchpad scrolling thing – that is, what Apple did to bring OSX in line with iOS from a scroll usability perspective. To me, it was just counterintuitive – I am sufficiently used to computers (as opposed to tablets) that I don’t find it unnatural to switch between gesture modes.

I do have some other new touchpad gestures to learn, and it generally seems shiny. Will post further impressions if I notice anything significantly different in the days ahead.

I’m trying not to be upset that they upgraded the Macbook Air I just got four months ago.

The iCloud and the connected home?

iCloud I’ve been asked about the ‘Connected Home’ more often recently, by a number of different people. What options are there? Should I buy something?

My answer has been fairly consistent; we’re not there yet. Whatever you mean by ‘connected home’, it isn’t a mass market reality.

The disambiguation is necessary because people mean different things by it – either home automation or networked home entertainment systems – and in neither case are there simple, mass-market products or services for people to buy. By home automation, I mean the automation of household services and devices – for example, automatic, centrally controlled electrics and climate control, curtains that close when you clap, smart metering, Internet fridges and beyond. On the media/entertainment front – I mean streaming music and video to any screen or audio device, surround sound, etc.

On the home automation front, the reason things haven’t progressed is because it’s an expensive, niche market which hasn’t validated the investment to make popular. Everyone’s home is too different and too many mechanical bits and pieces would need to fit in place to make it useful. Standardisation – of things like low-power, short range wireless systems like Zigbee and beyond – has helped with automation of some household services (e.g. smart metering), but even those are a way away. And you’ll be hard pressed to standardise light switches, curtain rails, etc. – all the other bits and pieces which might want to be automated. It’s also largely unnecessary, lazy-making tech, IMHO, with the exception of things like smart electricity stuff which plays a broader role in managing energy usage and isn’t just a technology of convenience.

The reason in the home entertainment space is not dissimilar. There’s too much choice! People have hifis, TVs, iPod docks, PCs, PVRs and more; it’s a rare household that has them all from the same manufacturer and getting them to play nicely with each other – even in a uniform environment – can be an act of such astonishing Macgyvery that even those of us with the propensity and the skills prefer to opt for workarounds rather than actually blu-tak an integrated system together.

In addition, for media streaming to work within a home you need two things – fast, consistently reliable wifi (a dream for most people I know) AND a machine to act as a server – which you leave on all the time. Now, it’s well established that the majority of PCs sold are laptops. And it’s true (if less well established) that PCs left on all the time degrade faster (not to mention waste power the vast majority of the time). Wake-on-LAN – the technology by which these machines turn them selves on when triggered by network activity – has been available for some time, but is another configure-challenge. So I suspect – even in a world where you could buy a NAS or Windows Home Server to suit the purpose – that it will remain a distant dream.

Enter the iCloud. Apple’s world of slick hardware and software uniformity already makes its Airplay / iTunes media sharing features easier to configure than most ‘open’ systems. Not as easy as Spotify, sure, but complete with a massive user base, video as well as music, and a global audience. iCloud, putting all those shared music files into – what is to begin with a music locker but you can be sure in time will become a full-on-demand, real-time streaming cloud repository – paves the way for it to act as the cloud-based media server. So in the same was as AppleTV streams films for you, iPods, Macs and other iTunes enabled devices will be able to bring your media to any room at any time.

It’s frightening that Apple’s going to win here as well, but I don’t know if anyone else has the clout or vision to make this happen. Most people are too tied to commercial realities – that of a mixed market – but with Apple’s enormous margins, ridiculous profitability and ‘trojan horse’ appliances making their way into every room in the house, it seems an inevitability that they’ll win through in this market as it evolves. After all, an accidental connected home is still connected…

Should I buy an iPad 2 for my commute?

This isn’t something I’m considering, needless to say, but a question I was asked by an old friend, who predominantly uses Google Apps to run his own business. The short answer is – no if you plan to work on your commute, yes if you plan to play. This is what I told him in more detail:

I have an iPad and I do like it, but I recently switched to a Macbook Air for working on the train (plus 3G card). It’s not the most elegant solution but there’s a few reasons why it made sense for me.

1) Any substantial typing on the iPad is mediocre at best. It’s accurate as you could hope for a touchscreen but you just get tired tapping into a smallish screen if you use a full-size keyboard the rest of the time. You can fix this with a (pricey) keyboard accessory, but this diminishes the elegance and portability of the iPad.

2) File conversion and ‘offline access’ to documents is patchy on Google Docs (not sure there’s an easy way to make it work), and conversion of other people’s docs (Spreadsheets and PPT especially) is generally awful. Depends on the app you use, but there it is.

And why the Macbook is better, although still not perfect.

1) Offline access – quick to get started with offline apps for drafting stuff if 3G is patchy – I use Evernote as well as the more traditional offline productivity tools to draft stuff

2) Full keyboard!

3) Good battery life


1) No built-in sim card slot

2) Expensive

3) Slightly more clunky (although an 11" Macbook air is still pretty sleek)

Overall, though, if you’re using Google Apps bear in mind that Apple and Google are at slight ideological odds – the native iPhone and iPad apps from Google are rarely as good as they are on their Android equivalents. Although there is a Mac Gmail client – Sparrow – that is a thing of awesome beauty and power.

I love the iPad as a media machine – books, TV, etc., – but the Macbook is my true workhorse these days. Well, my personal workhorse – still all PC at the office.

Have you read about Chromebooks? If you’re running Google Apps they might be a better bet for you, I’m not sure.

Helpful Mac gestures and shortcuts for Windows users

I’m still getting used to the MacBook, so discovering things daily. The below are my current most helpful shortcuts and gestures. What do you use? Tell me, Macfans!

Option instead of alt, COMMAND instead of CTRL. COMMAND-OPTION-ARROW (or COMMAND-OPTION-SHIFT-ARROW). Keep messing that one up.

Command tab – switch apps, etc. Command generally replaces CTRL. Command-` will switch between tabs in an application.

Enter to rename files (F2 in Windows)

FN-DELETE – forward delete (delete key in Windows)

COMMAND-SPACEBAR – Spotlight search (keep thinking it should be left-swish – probably will be in Lion)

Loads of cool stuff with Expose, the applicaton switching, erm, application – COMMAND-F3 shows desktop, for example, Expose shows all open windows wby pressing F3 (same as three finger gesture)

Cool touchpad stuff:

Two finger touch gesture – scrolling.

Four fingers swoosh down gesture – view all open apps (or swoosh up to show desktop)

Three fingers sideways swoosh – back/forward

Pinch to zoom

Rotate to… rotate