So, I’ve been back in Hull for a few days now, only to discover my friend Nick has betrayed the good ship Windows Phone and moved to the dark side of Android. 😛 Whilst we were discussing his new phone, a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, we got talking about HTC’s latest Android offering — the One X.
What sets the One X apart from the rest of the crowd is the fact that it has a quad core processor. Quad core processors aren’t actually the norm in desktop PC’s yet, most people still have dual core chips, so to have one in a phone is an interesting development. Interesting, I would say, but not entirely useful — in fact, quite the opposite.
In my day-to-day life, my one concern about my phone is how long it will last. It’s always a pain when your phone runs out of juice just as you’re expecting a text, call or email. Smartphones at the moment typically have a battery life of around 20 hours, with light to moderate use of more advanced features like Wi-Fi and high screen brightness. This will last you a day at University or work, but god help you if you forget to charge it up at night and want to make a phone call the next day.
An issue I don’t encounter on a day-to-day basis is lack of computing power on my phone. Whilst I frequently think “I wish this had a bit more oomph sometimes” on my i3 powered Dell Inspiron 15R Laptop I can honestly say the thought has never occurred to me about my Samsung Focus Flash Windows Phone, everything seems seamless and frankly im not doing anything taxing like editing and converting video on my phone… I make phone calls, text people, read my emails, browse the web, listen to music and play the occasional game — none of this requires the power of a quad core.
Quad core processors sip more battery than a single core would. Simple fact, so for my experience at least it would actually enhance an issue I have and ‘solve’ an issue I don’t. Of course, everyone uses their devices differently, so your experience may indeed be improved by a bit more power but I think most people want to get the essentials done, with a tad of gaming but be able to do all that for a longer period of time.
Going back to the seamlessness of my phone experience, during our conversation about processing power in phones I coined the term “UX not specs”, which is now the title of this blog post. UX stands for User Experience, the way in which users experience your hardware and software, this includes the “person’s perceptions of the practical aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system” according to Wikipedia. What is important here is the word perception, a quad core is usually going to be quicker than a single core clocked at the same speed, but this increase in speed might be so small that it not be noticeable by the user, in which case its almost a waste.
Specs stands for Specifications and rhymes nicely with UX. 😉 Specifications are the list of details about a piece of hardware’s innards, including its CPU Core count, amount of RAM, measurement of storage space etc.
Windows Phone is very cleverly designed so that smooth animations cover the loading time, so even if something takes a while because everything is moving you deem it to be efficient, fast, and working instantly on command. The user experience is good, I’ve never been irritated by a slowdown in Windows Phone so I personally wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice any battery life for more cores. The user experience is great, even without the specs which you think it would demand, so windows Phone has got the UX, but not the (battery draining) specs of some high-end Android phones.
Until we invent a technology capable of holding many days’ worth of battery life on a smartphone device I for one will yearn for more battery life over computational power.
(Above you can see my Windows Phone 7 Version of Programming 1 ACW2 game Evil Squash – The first screen shows the set up page where players select the number of human and computer players – The second screen shows the page where users enter their name and select the name of the AI player they want to play against. The third page is the actual Game UI)
Today was good fun, it all started with a somewhat boring IT and Professionalism lecture however which was about Computer Misuse & Software Liability and Contracts. After this we had a two hour break in which I worked on my Windows Phone 7 version of Evil Squash, which you can see above. After this break, which included a few well earn’t pints of coke, we had a computer systems lecture about multi-theading in the context of SPARC architectures, which Dr. Mike seemed rather animated about…
After Computer Systems Rob, James, Lewis, Louis and I headed over to Robert Blackburn Lecture Theatre D in which Ben Nunney and Joanna Tong were ready to present our Windows Phone Camp. The 2 hour or so lecture consisted of information on:
- How to develop Silverlight apps
- Information on the ideas behind Live Tiles and Hubs
- How to get add polish to applications and get them Marketplace Ready
- How to submit applications to the marketplace
- Requirements of the Marketplace
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Windows Phone
- The Convergence of Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox
- The Metro Design Language
- Using Blend and Visual Studio Side by Side
- Launchers and Choosers
- Making money on the Marketplace
- much much more I’m sure I’ve forgotten to write down
- and most importantly “Witty comments” by Ben 😉
Once the lecture had ended we all walked on to RB-312 for Tea (or in my case coke) and some programming time whilst we waited for our pizza (paid for by Microsoft!) to turn up. In this time I added custom counter functionality to my Evil Squash Application. My users can now use a “CameraChooser” to take a picture of themselves or an object to use as their counter on the gameboard, pretty cool I think!
Tonight I’ve been adding to the game.
Thats all for now,
PS: HTC updated all their phones, including my model – The HTC 7 Mozart – with Internet Sharing. Neat.
Last night as I mentioned in my previous post I went to spiders with the Rock Society of the Hull University Union and Jess. It was totally different to any club or venue I’ve been to before. Its essentially a big house and garden in the middle of an industrial estate with 3 rooms, each dedicated to a different genre of rock, our favourite of which was the 60’s-80’s room which played classic bands such as Madness, The Selecter and The Ramones. We were also happy with the great variety of cheap drinks available — notably a special called The JUGular — a 6 drink jug containing two shots of your choice, two liquors and loads of soft drink — in our case Coke! It was so tasty, but also incredibly alcoholic! Yum.
Today I spent most of my time in Cottingham and Hull City Centre — with Jess — finding a reasonably priced place we could both eat which with her being vegetarian that was somewhat difficult. Eventually we settled on a small pub which offered a Sunday Roast Carvery for me and a Veggie burger for her. After that we spent a lot of time enjoying the compact, yet full city centre in hull which offers many shops, resturants and facilities. After only being here a week I can safely say Hull doesn’t deserve the reputation it gets, its an enjoyable place to live with great night life, friendly locals and a buzzing atmosphere. Unfortunately Jess also left tonight at 6:30 after a fun filled weekend of clubbing and student life! Fortunately ill be able to see her soon when she comes back to see the amazing Specials in just under two weeks!
Windows Phone 7.5 Mango running on the HTC 7 Mozart
As I posted yesterday I bought a HTC 7 Mozart, originally running Windows Phone 7, on O2 as part of a 24 month contract. Since then I have upgraded the phone to Windows Phone 7.5 using the slightly hacky method documented on WinRumours. The update has bought a lot of functionality that was missing from the original 7.0 release of the OS. Most notably custom ringtone support and multi-tasking, all of which are very well explained and reviewed on Ars Technica, so I wont delve into those so much — however I would like to bring to peoples attention some of the lesser of the 500 updates which I feel have a great impact!
The first thing I noticed when changing from 7.0 to 7.5 was perhaps one of the smallest changes to the OS — Emotions in text messages, whereas before the operating literally showed a string of symbols such as “:-)” if you selected a smiley face from the emotions keyboard it now shows some cool, single colour mango styled faces or icons depending on what you typed. Here is a collation of all the emotions produced by 1800PocketPC;
Another small but notable improvement was the fact that the phone now uses two different tones of your accent colour to differentiate between incoming and outgoing messages, rather than just using left and right. This is excellent UI design and makes reading texts a much more enjoyable experiance.
Other Aesthetic Changes
Another small aesthetic change is the improvement of the XBOX Live logo, which is now a lot more suited to the Metro Design the OS uses, before it felt ugly and out of place, but now it feels like a 1st rate application on the device. Yet another UI design change I like is the fact that Internet Explorers UI is now all at the bottom of the screen, rather than the top — this allows for a larger viewing area and in my opinion looks better. (IE also went from being based off of IE6/7 to IE9, a massive HTML5 powered difference 😉
Windows Phone 7.5 feels complete. In a nutshell it is what 7.0 should have been and is easily my favourite Phone OS due to its simple yet pretty look, mass of features and future potential (due to hopefully an influx of customers when Nokia release their device, and therefore an Influx of money hungry developers). I would definately recommend this OS to anyone — from tech savvy to totally technophobic — because it is simple enough for normal use (internet browsing, sending texts, making calls) but also extremely flexible for those who want a little more from their mobile device.
Thanks for Reading
So yesterday I had my first practical session in the Fenner Building labs. This was an enjoyable session that included navigating around the internet systems, registering for several external sites related to our course — including one which automatically recognises plagerism in text and code — and writing a few simple programs, including the obligatory “Hello World”. Unfortunately this also included an A-Level/Level 4 level maths test, having only taking GCSE maths this proved to be difficult and i scored a poor score of only 29%, so now I know I need to really work on my maths.
The session lasted for around 2 hours and then I was free to leave and collect my new HTC 7 Mozart — a Windows Phone 7 device. I spent much of the rest of the day updating it to mango, adding my email accounts and music and generally fiddling with it. I also had the experience of bringing my huge Antec 500 case desktop on a bus to get the networking issue I have had for the past week fixed, it was embarrassing having so many people look at me as if to say “That’s not a laptop”.
Later that evening Jess’ mum offered to pay for her train faire to get to Hull to visit me, and within hours of finding out she was coming I was at Hull interchange station to greet her! It was great to see her 🙂 We went home, had a few drinks and then went to see Sarah Cox at the Asylum night club at the Students Union. It was great fun and included drinking more than a few snakebites (and Malibu for Jess)!
Today we went to the Student Union for food and then on into Hull to go to the shopping centre and generally hang around. It was good fun and it included seeing the piano man shown in the video above! Hulls regeneration including the building of that shopping centre is really good and it is actually a great place to visit for the day, especially if you like fish!
For now however I’m off out to a HUU Rock Society meeting at the Spider rock club in Hull City Centre, followed by a trip to the Students Unions (in)famaous Brassik night!
Thanks for Reading,