Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Mango? More like Lemon. How I’ve come to hate my Samsung Focus S.

Windows Phone looked great. …but then I actually had to live with it.

I had an aging iPhone 3G in my pocket, and iOS was feeling more boring and stale than ever before. I was ready to jump ship to a new phone ecosystem, and after some thorough research and soul-searching, I had made my decision. My prospective new phone was months away from being released, but I anxiously awaited its arrival.

Unfortunately, that day would never come. Léo Apotheker would see to that.

My heart was broken when I read the news. WebOS, the mobile operating system that I had just fallen in love with, was dead. The HP Pre 3, the phone I had been infatuated with for months, would never see the light of day. All of my carefully laid plans had been dashed by a single bullet point in HP’s quarterly earnings report.

Back to the drawing board, I guess.

“Gingerbread” was the Android du jour at the time, but nothing about it (or any of its variants) ever appealed to me. The “authentically digital” design of Windows Phone piqued my interest, and the new “Mango” update seemed to close a lot of the gaps that kept it behind the competition. Blackberry was also a thing that existed.

In the end, Windows Phone was the only real choice for me. I decided on the upcoming Samsung Focus S as my next phone, and started waiting. Again.

I found a lot to love about the phone and the OS throughout the honeymoon period. Windows Phone was just as smooth and fluid as I had anticipated, and simply using the phone was an enjoyable experience. The software keyboard was excellent, and provided the best typing experience that I’ve ever had on a mobile device. The Windows Phone Marketplace had all of the apps and games that I needed, and Wonder Reader was the mobile Google Reader experience that I’d always wanted. Live Tiles were neat! I was very happy with my choice.

…but then, the problems began.

It turns out that the Samsung Focus S has a few kinks and bugs that are unique to that specific phone, and not necessarily to the whole operating system. For example, when the phone is plugged in and charging, the entire user interface goes from buttery-smooth to slow-as-molasses. Plugged in or not, the on-screen keyboard will lag noticeably if you leave the keyboard sound effects enabled. This is quite unfortunate, as the “plicks” and “plocks” of the Windows Phone keyboard are delightful.

The real showstopper is that it doesn’t play nice with my 802.11n Wi-Fi network. Every other device in the house can connect to my Linksys router without issue, but the Focus S has a rough time of it. It’s not unusual for me to get 20 Mbps down on my laptop, but the Focus S struggles to break 1 Mbps. I’ve seen better results when I disable N on my router and just go with G, but I refuse to compromise all of my other devices just for this phone. Never having full Wi-Fi speeds has led to a whole slew of other problems and annoyances, and even though this may be a phone-specific issue, it has been consistent with my general experience using Windows Phone over the past 7 months.

If I had to choose one word to sum up Windows Phone, it would be “unreliable”.

When I was first getting acquainted with “Mango”, I was especially impressed with how podcast functionality was integrated directly into the OS. I’m an avid podcast listener, and having a good podcatcher on my phone is absolutely essential. Windows Phone allows you to subscribe to all of your podcasts via the Zune Marketplace, and it will automatically download new episodes as they are posted to your feeds. The idea is that your phone will always be completely up-to-date for you when you leave for work in the morning. …theoretically.

It doesn’t work.

Oh, sometimes it will work. It works just often enough to remind me that the feature exists. But I would say that a good 80% of my mornings are started with outdated feeds. This was one of the main features that I was excited for when transitioning to Windows Phone, but it may as well not even exist with how often it fails. Since my podcasts haven’t been automatically downloaded, the next step is to manually download something to listen to for the ride in.

You would think that would be an easy task, but you would be wrong.

Half of the time, if I press the button to retrieve new podcast episodes from the Marketplace, it will fail. Instead of obtaining the new updated feed, it will instantly show the old outdated feed that is cached on the phone. When this bug occurs, there is absolutely no way to refresh the feed to gain access to new episodes. The only alternative is to use a third-party podcast app (which are all equally unreliable), or to download it on a computer and then sync it to the phone.

…just what I want to deal with when I’m rushing out the door in the morning.

Sometimes it will fail to download a new episode, but it WILL show the updated feed. The Wi-Fi issue that I explained earlier prohibits me from downloading the podcast in a timely manner, so I usually stream the podcast over AT&T’s cellular network throughout the entire drive in.

…that’s actually not as bad as it sounds, believe it or not.

…that is, until Windows Phone gets in the way yet again! If I lose network connectivity at any point during the stream, then it will fail to resume. The time elapsed will continue to progress once signal is restored, but no audio is played. The only resort is to completely restart the stream from the beginning, and then manually scrub back to continue listening.

All in all, listening to podcasts on Windows Phone has been an unmitigated disaster for me.

My experience with the rest of Windows Phone has been frustrating as well. I never quite know which apps are going to be in my multitasking menu, so I find myself generally ignoring it. Camera settings are never saved when you close the app, so if I want to take a 720p video, then I have to manually set that option each and every time I launch the camera. I used my phone to record video on a recent vacation, and I must have set the 720p option over a hundred times. This is yet another example of Windows Phone getting in my way, instead of making things easier for me.

I gave it a good try. I really wanted to love Windows Phone. I even subscribed to Windows Phone fan podcasts! …but I think I’ve had enough. Everything’s broken. Nothing works. I feel frustrated and disappointed every time I use my phone, and that’s not something that I want to feel for the remaining 17 months of my contract.

So what’s the plan?

I’m holding onto a very slim, unrealistic hope for Open WebOS. If they actually manage to release it, and port it to a Google Nexus handset or something, then I might be back on board. It sounds like Android has finally become tolerable with Ice Cream Sandwich, but I would probably hate myself a little bit for using it. Blackberry is also a thing that exists.

I dunno. I’m not very optimistic about my personal mobile future, to be honest.

I’ve also been watching eBay auctions for an AT&T Pre 3. I guess that says it all.

Honorable Mention

Fix-a-Pixel just won this:

Automated and nearly-meaningless, but neat!

Capsule Toys

Behold, Capsule Toys.

Capsule Toys is our newest application for the iPhone, and is currently available for download for FREE on the App Store. Download it today!

Capsule Toys brings the fun of collecting gashapon to the iPhone!

Capsule Toys contains over 100 unique prizes to collect, with more on the way in future updates. Simply turn the handle on the machine to get a capsule. Pick it up, *pop* it open, and reveal the mystery toy inside!

Keep track of your entire collection within the application. Compare collection statistics with friends!

In America, Capsule Toy machines can be found in supermarkets, bowling alleys, and arcades.

In Japan, capsule toys are known as “gashapon” (or “gachapon”), and are very popular with people of all ages. These gashapon machines can be found everywhere, and there are toys for everything that you can imagine!

Capsule Toys. Collect them all!

This is the “secret” application that I was referring to in a previous post. It was a pleasant surprise to see it approved without any problems!

This is only version 1.0, and I have plenty of enhancements planned. More info later.

Capsule Toys Capsule Toys Capsule Toys!

Duke Nukem Forever

Not a lot of progress since the last update.

I have sound effects working, but music isn’t supported yet. The ability to draw text is half-kinda-almost supported, but there are a few kinks to be worked out. Even then, my implementation will only support the fonts that are natively available for the iPhone (of which there aren’t many at all). The method I used was a lot quicker and simpler to implement with Apple’s APIs doing most of the work for me, but the limitations mean that I’m going to have to do something better in the future.

…if there is a future, that is.

I came across the cocos2d library recently, which is a free, open-source 2d game library for the iPhone. They’ve already basically created everything I wanted to do with my library, which makes me hesitate to continue working on it. My main goal was never to create my own videogame library, my goal was to make a videogame. Creating the tools was only part of that process, and if there are already decent resources available, then I don’t see why I shouldn’t use them. I wouldn’t say that my own custom library is dead, but I think its priority has been lowered.

I still have more research to do, but I like what I see so far. There are already like 50 games on the App Store that use cocos2d, so its definitely a usable product. It also seems to be the most popular 2d game library for iPhone, going by Google search results.

I’m going to do some experimentation with it, so we’ll see how it goes.

Testify

http://www.stromcode.com/2009/05/24/the-incredible-app-store-hype/

Collage picked up by iPhoneWorld

http://www.iphoneworld.ca/news/2009/05/27/collage-iphone-browser-app-with-resizable-windows/

Thanks guys!

Collage out now

Speak of the devil!

On the same day I was complaining about not hearing anything about my web browser, it gets approved. I should do that more often.

Go download my cool new web browser, Collage, for 99 cents.

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