Turn by turn navigation with the Nokia N97

Last night I recovered my N97 after lending it to a friend for a few days and he told me it was too complicated to use, which I do agree with, after seeing how easy the 3gs is, but that’s not the point of this post. Turn by turn navigation is.

For those of you who know me you’ll have heard that I’ve used the N95, N97 and Iphone for navigation and each has it’s strengths and weaknesses. Mainly the biggest weakness is having to wait until you’re stopped at a traffic light before checking whether you were going the right way or not. That has now changed.

Nokia have recently come out with an excellent, yes, that’s my opinion, add on to the maps software that provides turn by turn navigation with a choice of hundreds of voices. That’s what makes the Nokia N97 such a great, although expensive GPS. You select the voice, in my case female Canadian french, and she will tell you which way to go. She will tell you when you’re at a roundabout, whether to go right or left and more. Best of all her voice will allow you to keep your eyes on the road.

If you’re travelling with a fellow geek who can play with the phone whilst you’re driving then they will notice the counting down, telling you how far you are from the next change in direction, show a map of the route as a forerunner to the actual journey or even a map of the complete journey.

From what I’ve described above you see that the N97 behaves just like a dedicated navigation GPS that’s constantly online. As a result you get traffic information telling you what to look out for. It’s a beautiful piece of software and I’d love to go on a road trip to test it.

I’m in favour of this in car navigation. If you buy a GPS you’d pay 300-400CHF in some cases, several hundred CHF for the Iphone tom-tom app, or you could get it for free with your N97. The choice is yours. I’m very happy with how well it performed.

It’s a question of Gravity – Twitter on S60

Gravity is a twitter client for the s60 and I recently installed it on my N95 and so far I’m very happy with it. With an intuitive interface it makes being logged in to two twitter accounts and one identica account very easy. What is especially nice is that you select which account you want to look at and by scrolling left and right you see the friend’s timeline, the replies, your tweets, your DM and finally searches if you want. That’s automatic and for every account.

It’s far better than the other twitter clients for s60 that I’ve tried so for the moment that is one twitter client I would recommend you use.

I know what I’m talking about. I tweet from anywhere without it slowing down my social life.

Also if you pay for this app after the ten day trial period you’re helping demonstrate that it’s not just the iphone which has people willing to pay for the applications

Yet another reason to love Google Latitude

Yesterday I met a friend in geneva. The one that uses Google Latitude. I used my mobile phone to see where he was and just using cell towers I got a pretty good fix on where he was, within just a few hundred meters.

When I called him to get a more accurate fix, i.e. for him to input the address as his latitude position using the power of Google maps, latitude and 3g it took just a minute to find the actual address.

For this reason I love google latitude. When you’ve got technologically savvy users it makes being geo-loced twenty four hours a day extremely useful.

Google Latitude

Google latitude is an interesting app available at least on Nokia phones that allows you to see where your friends are according to their mobile phone. At the moment it’s limited just to your gmail friends but expand to include more.

What makes this application interesting in the near future is that as more of the early adopting friends of yours install this app you’ll see which city they’re in quite easily. If the friends are in a public space then you can get more accurate directions.

It’s an interesting application.

Nokia and the Sportstracker

A few weeks ago I was in Paris and when someone pulled out the iphone I commented that it’s a bureaucratic tool but wasn’t sure why. The n95 is a flexible fun phone to play with especially when looking at Sportstracker. It’s an application I use every time I walk around. I’m not alone. Over a million people downloaded the application.

Eventually more than 1 million people downloaded the program and used it for sports the developers never dreamed of, such as paragliding, hot-air ballooning, and motorcycle riding.

As a result, Nokia developers are realizing that aiming the application at amateur athletes was too narrow. They are thinking of rebranding the application as a kind of life-tracker. Based on the response to the software on Beta Labs, that may well help drive users to Nokia’s Ovi Web portal [also in beta testing], which is the basis of Nokia’s attempt to carve out a big piece of the evolving, mobile Internet. “It shows people they can do much more [with their handsets] than just make phone calls,” says researcher Kaasinen.

source

If i start a trip from work or home there’s a good chance I won’t let sportstracker report where I am live because I don’t want people to know certain details of my life. When I’m on holiday however this is a different matter. If I’m walking in St Moritz and I want my twitter or social media friends to see where I am then the sports tracker tells them where I am. With Flixwagon, Qik or Bambuser they can watch video of what I’m seeing as I’m seeing it.

That’s because you bring your friends with you with these new technologies. The digital lifestyle is more inmportant in how we relate to people and whilst in a place like Switzerland it may help to isolate people in high adoption areas of such technologies it has the reverse effect. Look at the Social media scene in London as just one example. It’s just a matter of time before other manufacturers catch up and these toys become mainstream.

Two mobile content mentalities.

When’s the last time you visited a wap site? Have you thought of how content displays on mobile phones other than the Iphone? I hadn’t until quite recently. Recently I moved back to Switzerland and have started to work for Allthecontent / Toutlecontenu.com and they provide multiplatform content for devices ranging from televisions to mobile phones and more.

As a result of reading too much American press I lost interest in what Nokia were doing until it was mentioned that the iphone is not true mobile web use. At first that statement didn’t make much sense but since then I’ve bought a Nokia N95 8 gig model and I’ve been playing with vodafone live, seeing how content is presented. It’s very simple, quick and to the point. Images are small and sparse but text is heavy.

Naviguate from one menu to another and you eventually get to content that’s paying. That’s where it becomes interesting. There are quite a few topics, from sports to entertainment to adult content. Some of this content is in video form, some in MMS form and yet some more comes as text. As a result content is easily accessible from most media handsets.

Then there’s the question of data packages. Look at Swisscom. For 18 swiss Francs you receive a hundred megabytes of data transfer. That’s not much when considering the 3 gigs a day of transfers via my laptop. Mobile is different. I read that not more than fifty megabytes a month are downloaded over the air.

Take a look at Iphone optimised pages in contrast. They’re graphic intensive, slow to load and designed for one specific screen resolution. As a result of this that content is not accessible on most data plans or mobile devices. Iphones have a good part of the market but they’re excluding many users. You can’t download content on the iphone. You’re losing revenue right there.

What I think will be interesting over the coming months is to see how the European Vs. US mentality of mobile delivered content will affect telephone operators in these markets.

The Nokia N95 and some fun to be had.

Seesmic’ favourite phone at the moment appears to be the Nokia N95 and after months of thinking about whether to get the Iphone or the Nokia I turned to the Nokia because of everything it allows you to do. It’s a GPS, web streaming camera, time lapse camera, e-mail and web browser among other things. It’s also easy to use with services like Jaiku.

Streaming

Video stremaing from computers is becoming commonplace and as a result we’re growing tired of that piece to camera straight from people’s desk. That’s where Bambuser, Qik and seesmic come into play.

Bambuser is still in alpha and has an intuitive easy to use streaming interface giving you an easy selection between the main camera and the front camera. It’s very simple to use and I’ve played quite a bit with it but there are lag issues where the stream doesn’t keep up.

The settings can be adjusted quite specifically by the user allowing for quite a bit of experimentation.

A second service is Qik. This one has a nice user interface and has in built buffering. This means that as you stream the application buffers and indicates the delay between what you are seeing on the phone and what is being seen.

This service has too main options. Optimised for quality or optimised for creating a reliable stream.

Seesmic has already been discussed but it’s a good video sharing website. It allows for conversations to take via video similarly to instant messaging. The Seesmic application still needs some work but if you’re using shozu you can record your seesmic posts and FTP the files to the site for others to enjoy. I’ve done a few posts from the car once I’ve arrived at work and the results are good, except for a loss of synchronisation… but that’s in camera rather than seesmic.

 Jaiku

Jaiku was developed by people who worked for Nokia and it’s similar to twitter but with a better front end mobile wise. The application automatically displays where you are, whether you’re free or busy to answer calls and you can follow conversations.

Photo Camera 

One interestig feature of the camera that I haven’t used is the ability to take a picture every ten seconds. In other words to create time lapses that last as long as you would like. I haven’t tried the option but the idea is interesting.

GPS 

I haven’t played with the GPS so far but so far it looks nice enough, I’ll write more once I know more.

So far I’m happy with the N95 because of all it can do and I’m looking forward to using it extensively in the near future. As I learn more about the phone and what it can do I’ll write most posts.