Six reasons for the change of…

A final blog post for the end of the past year 2011 which unfortunately saw too many deaths of beloved people and only a few posts on this blog – also due to the Posterous / Facebook / Twitter competition and not many actually willing to read longer blog posts as a result of the information overflow.

It’s not that I am only into tech stuff, but I am passionate about these gadgets and that’s also reason enough to note down the following motivation.

iphone4-Defy
The Apple iPhone 4 vs. The Motorola Defy

There are three four five six reasons why I’m planing to skip the freedom that comes with Android and switch (back) to an iPhone 4 (not 4S) in 2012:

1. There may be great Android phones and my Motorola Defy (“Jordan, MB525”) is a lot of  phone for the money, but it’s a few millimeters too small for my fingers which means that typing on the screen is easier and quicker on the iPhone.

2. Both cameras on both phones have 5mpx sensors, but there’s some magic to the iPhone 4 camera that the Defy camera just does not have. And I’ve tried all cameras on the Android market, am using MIUI on the Defy which also includes the CyanogenMod7 camera app and…well, I just don’t like the results. It always takes several attempts to get a decent, not blurry picture and if the flash is activated, then it’s even worse. It could also be the software processing, less the hardware.

Defy camera test, outside
A somehow blurry snapshot, shot on a cloudy/rainy day in October. Not really what I expected to receive from the camera.

I take a lot of pictures with the phone, I knew that the camera on the Defy wouldn’t be that great and I’ve learned my lesson. If a decent camera on the phone is important to you, then go for an iPhone. Also compared to what Nokia used to produce – it’s imo better to use a 50-60% camera that “just works” than one that only delivers blurry images or blinds people with an aggressive flash (hello, Nokia N95!).

3. The dock connector. I am using a docking station on my desk and next to my bed. When I fall asleep, I just want to drop the phone into the docking station where it’s being recharged etc. – and not manually open a flap on the side of the phone and plug in a mini USB cable. I’m used to this procedure now, but I also know that these things are easier with the iPhone and a bit more complicated with the Defy (which is why I sold/gave away both docking stations I had for the Defy).

4. I got a very generous offer from a friend that I just have to accept and which enables me to make the swap to the other phone. The irony is that the iPhone is currently locked to ze Görmän Terrorkom (T-Mobile) network and will only be unlocked in the middle of 2012, but all of these limitations don’t matter to me for the above mentioned reasons. Another motivation probably also is that iOS 5 finally brought the changes that I requested iOS to have (and which I preferred on Android).

5. Not a real reason, but still: my sister, who always refused iPhones (“I don’t need them…”), suddenly surprised me in mid 2011 with the purchase of an iPhone 4 32GB. Which comes with FaceTime! All these years of introducing Skype within the family were rather unsuccessful, but this (stupid) FaceTime app now suddenly introduced video telephony within the family. Yeah, well…. whatever.

6. Payment options on the market. I really like Android but there’s this one thing where the iTunes store is just more advanced: payment options on the iTunes store include the use of vouchers. Now, this may not be an issue in the US, but in Germany, a) you only get a credit card when you’re 18 (so many consumers do not have one, or use someone else’s card, or use a prepaid one) and b) with many banks (who issue these cards), you have to pay an extra charge of 1,85% of the complete transaction fee for foreign apps. Which means that app purchases cost extra and more than expected. Sure, we’re talking about Euro cents here, but still it’s more – and the purchase / availability of prepaid vouchers, available at local supermarkets like they are for iTunes, would imo be the perfect solution for the Android market. So until this issue is solved, the iTunes store is a bit more sophisticated to me. This is imo also why the “for free”-culture is much more alive on the Android and Nokia ecosystems than it is with the Apple ecosystem (where hardware is already expensive enough). Payment options are key!

Android: What I will certainly miss is the removable battery (haha, just kidding – the only reason to remove it is to reset the phone – seriously) and the microSD card which – and I differ here with experts like Eldar Murtazin – I think is very great because it enables you to keep your user data in one place. Water damage with the iPhone? You’re doomed! But not so with phones where microSD-cards keep most of your data. I think that’s pretty convenient and a valid argument pro microSD-cards. Also because not everyone trusts iCloud, though it’s a step in the right direction. In 2011/12, hard- and software should be independent from each other. If a device (phone/laptop/car, etc.) fails, I’d like to exchange the hardware, type in my credentials and continue on a new device where I left the old one. Another great convenience of course is that you just type in your gmail address and it will automatically setup your phone. Totally awesome. Or alternative app stores like AppBrain – so many more options (except payment) than the iTunes store. The best part about Android certainly is how apps are connected within the OS and how they offer a level of connectivity I am yet to find on iOS (e.g. saving a page to ReadItLater).

As I said, Android is good, attractive and my preferred OS of choice. The Defy is a very nice phone but I’ve realized that for my own daily needs, the iPhone just does a slightly better job.

Half of my geek friends are from the “there’s-no-other-smartphone-than-the-iPhone” group, and the other group is more like “Android-is-better-because-iOS-is-worse”.

So the bottom line probably is that it takes a longer test of all available systems and a small set of important apps that just need to work in order to see which phone suits the user.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the redesign on this blog here: I’ve updated WordPress to 3.3 and that somehow destroyed my blog template – which I had been meaning to change since 2006! Again, it probably takes some interaction from the outside to make the switch. Thx, @alipasha!

Everyone, please have a peaceful and happy New Year 2012!

Wer braucht Kino, wenn er in einer Stadt wie Frankfurt wohnt?

Heute Abend in der U-Bahn saß ein älterer Mann – “südländisch”, würde man wohl sagen, also natürlich ein Türke (was ebenso natürlich nicht stimmt), der vertieft in einer orangenfarbenen DIN-A4 Mappe las. Jede Seite mit arabischen oder persischen Schriftzeichen – so genau konnte ich es im Vorbeigehen nicht erkennen – war handgeschrieben, und mit seinem Schurrbart und dem Blick wirkte dieser Mann wie…

…ja?

Das ist genau der Punkt. Wir wissen gar nichts voneinander. Und doch musste ich beim Anblick dieses Mannes an den Themenschwerpunkt Istanbul bei arte.tv denken, letztens, wo es auch einen Bericht über Arabeske gab, dieser für westliche Ohren kitschigen Volksmusik:

“…l’arabesk s’est muée en phénomène national et a révolutionné la pop turque”.

Folglich stellte ich mir vor, wie dieser Mann in den 1970er, oder vielleicht auch 1980er Jahren ein lokaler Star war, der in seiner Freizeit dramatische Texte über Liebe und Schmerz schrieb und in Gedanken noch in dieser alten Zeit lebt. Am Abend, wenn er auf seinem Weg zum Flughafen ist, wo er in einer 10h Schicht durch die Gänge des Terminals läuft und den Müll der Fluggäste entfernt. Sich in der U- und S-Bahn mental auf die Eintönigkeit der Arbeit vorbereitet, in dem er die alten Texte durchgeht und sich des Schmerzes erfreut, der gefühlt besser war als der Luxus in der neuen Welt.

Das ist natürlich nur ein Gedankenspiel. Maximal drei Minuten lang einen fremden Menschen anschauen und sich eine Geschichte dazu überlegen. Erfundene Geschichten zu Menschen, die in dieser Stadt leben und früher in einem anderen Kulturkreis ganz anders gewirkt haben?

Frankfurt am Main, diese typische Großstadt mit ihrem hohen Anteil an zugereisten Mitbürgern, eignet sich hierfür irgendwie ganz gut. Das Kopfkino siegt immer wieder in Frankfurt, diesem Schmelztiegel aus Kommerz und Kulturen – selten eine Stadt wie Frankfurt erlebt, die so viel HassLiebe in sich trägt. Was also liegt näher, als sich vor Langeweile im öffentlichen Nahverkehr die Menschen anzuschauen, und sich vorurteilbeladene, aber doch irgendwie passende Geschichten auszudenken (eben weil man es nicht besser weiß)?.

Bis jetzt habe ich mich noch nie so richtig gelangweilt im Leben. Wann waren wir eigentlich das letzte Mal im Kino?

Lost in blogs.

The worst part about maintaing more than one or two blogs at the same time is that you get to neglect your primary blog and end up posting relevant stuff to another blog were most content falls into the one and only category of “…na kadhallika” (etc.).

Talking about content – this is what I’d like to share with you today. Enjoy!

Shot & Burned

Dear Internet Diary,

I’ve bought an iPhone today.  A used 2G with a broken screen.

It was (really) cheap, a spontaneous deal and I bought it because I want to enjoy some apps like this one – which will most probably never be available for Symbian S60 3rd. Heck, it was even cheaper than a used iPod Touch (which are also still very expensive). Imagine a 2y+ old 2G iPhone still sells for the same amount (on eBay Germany) you could also cough up for a brand-new Nokia business phone.

So why this video? Because it’s cool and it represents to some extent what I’ve thought about the iPhone(s) & other “smartphones” in the past.

The apps, however, the missing apps…. the missing apps really did it for me.

My Nokia E72 is a great phone and I will continue using it as a phone, but – and that’s the important part – it will not be the device that I’ll pull out for some entertainment. Mind you, though, the same could be said about my N95, which obviously comes from the eNtertainment range of phones. However, I wouldn’t want to compare the iPhones with any Nokia phone, but the way apps are made available to consumers.

Sure, there are now free Ovi Maps with free navigation and a few other apps I’ve mentioned earlier, but that’s maybe 5-10 good apps for my E72 vs. a plethora of apps on Apple’s Appstore. And it’s not that there are no other Symbian apps – there are quite a few interesting ones out there – but you most probably won’t find them on Ovi, Nokia’s all-in-one website (“the door”) which also includes Ovi Store.

Now, Nokia’s “Appstore” Ovi Store is nothing but a lame joke.  And this in February 2010. They could do SO much better and start selling all their R&D beta apps, market them accordingly and show what’s really inside their devices (think of all the sensors). Ovi Store is also available online, via a browser – which I think is a very good approach (does that also exist for Apple’s Appstore, or will you have to visit their store using iTunes?). The Ovi Store application for Nokia phones though is a failure. Imagine what could be done if e.g. the developer of (the Twitter client) Gravity was to redesign this app…

You’d think that Nokia is where German car manufacturers used to be some time ago – at least from a customer’s point of view: a company run by engineers who are trying to deliver a perfectly engineered product, but then getting stuck in bureaucracy and end up selling less than they could.

Nokia. Great R&D, but such lame implementers. Great hardware, lame software. Why?

I don’t know. What I know is that I’ve just invested money into my first Apple product ever. Because Nokia couldn’t deliver.