The Nokia X; What to Expect

Nokia Android

There’s only a few days to go until the Mobile World Congress 2014 and among a slew of devices aiming to take the trophy as the gadget of 2014 will be an unlikely Android contender; Nokia.

It is now looking more than likely that in the coming days, Nokia will launch the X, or known internally as Normandy, to the market. This budget phone will be aimed at taking on the low-cost phone market currently dominated by the likes of Samsung, and is traditionally a market that the Finnish giant has been more than capable of taking on with products like its Asha range and lower cost Symbian powered phones which are still running in the wild.

But what exactly does Nokia’s first and (probably) only Android phone mean, and just what will it be like? There’s been plenty of speculation, but we know that at the very least, it’s not going to compare to the Lumia line, largely considered to be some of the best designed smartphones on the market, just lacking the critical app ecosystem.

We know for sure that that it will be running a forked version of Android, not unlike Amazon’s Fire tablets, giving it quite a lot of access to the Play Store and being able to support accessories and native services that many Android users have come to rely on from day-to-day. This goes some way to what many former Nokia enthusiasts had long sought, a decent smartphone from Finland which ran Android, helping to right a wrong from two years ago.

We also know that it’s going to be nicely multi-coloured, thanks to Nokia’s quite cute marketing and heavy use of green throughout most of its promotional activities, especially the recent duck vine. Something like this would be fairly brilliant, many have tried pushing phones in multiple colours, but so far only Nokia have really hit the nail on the head from a design point of view.

We also know that it’s going to be fairly low spec, not the worst phone on the market, but it should fall somewhere between Asha and Lumia – sporting a 5MP camera, MicroSD card slot, 4-Inch screen and potentially running Android 4.4 KitKat – if true it would already place it well ahead of quite a few Android phones on the market, some of which are still running Ice Cream Sandwich.

It’s been considered very odd that Nokia should choose this moment to launch their Android handset, something fans have been long hoping for, ever since Nokia decided to partner with Microsoft. The phone answers a question Nokia faced when it faced its great OS decision, before making, what many (including myself) consider to be the wrong one. In many ways this looks to be Nokia’s farewell to the world of smartphones – ultimately becomes just another division of Microsoft.

Facebook buying WhatsApp, the ‘Sink or Swim’ strategy

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Heads are still swivelling from the monumental sum of money which has been put against WhatsApp in the last 24-hours by Facebook ahead of their purchase of the company.

To put it in perspective, as I touched on in a previous post; WhatsApp has been valued at $19billion, with 50 employees is now worth more than both Sony, United Airlines and Gap all of whom have significantly more resources. Not only that, but it’s 450 million users now send more messages per day than the global population send SMS. It’s also comfortably now bigger and more valuable than Twitter.

But there’s some key things to take out of this purchase, Facebook is facing a tough future, one in which smaller more niche social networks are starting to steal its thunder and most importantly, revenue base. The giant now, more than ever is facing a battle to remain relevant in this new social landscape. Part of the strategy to remain relevant is nothing new, Google, Apple and Yahoo! have been doing it for a long time; go on a spending spree.

Mark Zuckerberg made an intelligent move when he bought Instagram, it was an investment which is still to bear fruit – but one which ensures that Facebook has a future separate to its own platform, continuously able to target the young consumers that are spending online and communicating there natively. The purchase of WhatsApp is the next step in marketing to an audience which just never took to Facebook Messenger, or the Facebook phone.

Ultimately, Facebook aren’t just trying to reach users, they’re trying to reach people like me, those who spend money advertising to the users, to make their $19billion investment back and turn a tidy profit. There’s an argument that such huge investments can be harmful to small networks, but WhatsApp has the benefit of already turning a profit. The prospect of this marketing opportunity isn’t exactly unappealing.

Facebook already allows a hugely granular method of advertising and promotion, largely there’s still a problem of reporting and results – simply put, investment from large brands in social advertising is still in its infancy and the idea of paying for your content to be seen by fans doesn’t always appeal, especially compared to a more robust AdWords by Google, who allow for much more detailed tracking and reporting, as well as revenue where that’s important.

WhatsApp from the point of view of brands who want to advertise is pretty cool, there’s a lot Facebook could do with the service, beyond integrating it with pages, perhaps even allowing for a Snapchat like broadcast from pages – it would have to be carefully managed, but I suspect that the WhatsApp user base won’t be as ardently opposed to this as the Instagram community is, simply because its a younger market and to a large degree are less affected by advertising on an app. Facebook is following Google into the idea of contextual search and advertising, WhatsApp could fit in quite neatly with that.

Ultimately, we won’t see for quite some time what will be done with the messaging service. It could be expected that it will remain fairly separate for the time being, like Instagram – Facebook doesn’t want to rock the boat, but they will eventually look to unify their services when the buy-in exists; a customer base who are used to the idea of these services being interlinked – rather than the current mature users who are more comfortable with the idea of separate apps for separate networks.

[APP REVIEW] SnapSeed makes photo editing a snap!

If you downloaded the Apple 12 Apps of Christmas, then you’ve been lucky enough to have your phone stocked with some great apps, games and music (One Direction, swoon!). But for me, one app really stood out. Not being much of a gamer, Snapseed was my by far favourite, and an absolute gem in the app store crowd. This handy photo editing app allows you to edit images into any style you like, bringing amateur photography to a whole new level, which Instagram can’t even touch.

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Lumia 800 sets the Market Alight

The Nokia Lumia 800 is due to shortly hit our shelves here’re in Ireland, and might just hit out heartstrings. Nokia’s first Windows Phone 7 handset is seen by many as the ailing mobile giant’s last chance to turn it’s luck around, as well as the clock and rise to the top of the league again. It’s not an easy task, that’s for sure. We’re all getting pretty comfy with our snazzy iphones and androids, so it’s going to be tough to woo people away and back to what is still seen as ‘the old reliable’.

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Sony’s Slanty Stab at a Tab

Today I’m having a look at the Sony Tablet S. One of the newest Android tablets on the market, this device really sets itself apart from the competition in so many ways. Let’s look at some of the best and key features on the Sony Tablet.

At first glance, it’s one of the most uniquely designed tablets, with a nice folded and slanting design which creates a much more comfortable usability and browsing experience. The slanted design cleverly hides the huge host of ports, which allow you to connect more devices and share data seamlessly. These include; volume buttons, data ports, SD Card slots, mini USB port, IR Port, headphone jack and power port. This all gives the device a nice seamless look, without distracting you with various buttons and slots from the screen. The screen itself is a gorgeous 9.4″ gloss screen with a 1280-800 resolution.

Sony Tablet S

Smooth, sleek and slanted...

Under the (very) sleek hood, this tablet is packing a lot, with; 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, an impressive NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, gyroscope, DLNA technology and a front and rear facing camera not to mention a solid 8 hours of battery life with standard usage. You really can take everything with you wherever you go. The true black, 9.4″ screen also means that you can browse websites, magazines, newspapers, photos and movies with a crystal clear image in stunning quality.

But it isn’t just the hardware that’s impressive. Running Android’s powerful 3.1 Gingerbread, with the option to upgrade to 3.2, this is not only a well designed tablet, it’s also easy to use for a host of different things to suit whatever you need to do. The user interface is sleek, clear and easy to navigate, offering all of your most important apps right where you need them. There’s already a lot of handy apps natively installed on the tablet, including YouTube, Gmail (with an improved interface) and the Android Marketplace which allows you to download any of the thousands of apps available there such as the Universal Remote Control app, allowing you to take control of any of your home devices. The build-in browser offers a web experience, which is second to none, offering full Flash support so that you can see the web as it’s meant to be seen.

Sony decides to run Android Gingerbread

Sony decides to run Android Gingerbread

Sony Tablet is also Playstation certified, meaning that you can play your favourite titles with ease from the online store. This is probably one of the biggest selling points for the app, and really is the big draw for Sony to play on. The iconic and powerful brand really adds weight to what this tab really is all about and helps attract some of the more serious gamers away from the likes of the iPad, which already has a growing reputation for more and more advanced games.

While the Sony has made a really solid attempt at a tablet, there are a few drawbacks; my big one is the shape. While I genuinely find it actually quite attractive, the teardrop slant means that portrait is very uncomfortable, and I like my tablets (along with a lot of people) in Portrait mode, for magazines and newspapers particularly. The other is the overall interface, coming from iOS to Sony’s Android interface; I found it comparatively messy, lacking the organized simplicity that comes naturally to Apple products.

While I won’t be ditching my iPad anytime soon, as the app environment is still that bit ahead of Android, the Sony Tablet isn’t a bad start. But with Amazon having jumped in the game, Sony really have lost out, and it’s a shame as this really is a nice product.

iPhone 5 cometh…

With Apple’s conference confirmed on the 4th October, and the iPhone 5 all but a certainty, just what can we expect the new CEO Tim Cook to unveil to us? Here’s some of what we can be expecting from the conference next week.

iPhone 5

Maybe? Probably not...

The iPhone 5 is largely expected to undergo some kind of redesign in terms of the hardware. While it’s expected to look very much the same as the iPhone 4, the internals are expected to address the hazardous antennae issue which gave Apple so many headaches not long ago among other things which aim to generally give the new iPhone a bit more Oomph. Some speculation over the thickness of the handset has arisen, suggesting that the actual handset will be thinner and lighter than previous models. There has also been some comments over the phone’s screen size which is expected to increase to match the growing displays from rivals like Samsung and HTC. Personally I think Apple did well with the iPhone 4 in terms of design, it’s a usable size with little weight and feels good to hold so I can’t see any hugely outlandish overhauls in this field.

Some of the internal changes however aside from the antennae fix, will be big ones. It’s expected that thus iPhone will be made even faster, getting rid of the already short lags present in the current range of iPhones. It’s expected that with the larger screen, Apple will need to invest in much punchier processor power as well as some updates to the excellent Retina Display. Another internal change which would be welcome is the inclusion of an NFC chip, which would allow for contact-less payments to be made. Google already allows this in their own Nexus handsets, and last week activated the feature allowing people to pay for items with Google Wallet, through their smartphone and it’s expected that more and more Android handsets will begin carrying this soon. With PayPal already working on their own apps it makes some sense to do this. But we’ll have to see, Apple tend to wait until a method is more tried and tested.

There has also been some discussion around the possibility of the new iPhone being 4G, I personally don’t really see this as being a major deal breaker, most people won’t have anything above 3G connection and really don’t care much about 4G. So while this might be a bit of Future-proofing on Apple’s part, like the Thunderbolt connection on the new MacBook Air, it’s really not something to get excited about yet.

It will be an intersecting presentation, marking the first major product launch that Jobs hasn’t helmed. iOS5 will also be released to customers in and around, which looks set to add a host of new features to the iPhone. I for one, won’t be buying the new iPhone, I think the iPhone 4 with iOS5 will be able to do much of what the iPhone 5 will be packing.

Windows Phone 7 and the future of Nokia.

 

Opening the Windows for Nokia’s future. 

There’s been a lot of talk about Nokia recently, mostly in relation to their recent deal (take over as most would say) with Windows, whereby Nokia will provide the hardware, and Microsoft will provide the OS to their handsets.

Over the past few years, since the launch of the iPhone and then the rise of Google’s Android handsets, Nokia has been facing an uphill battle. Formerly the worlds largest handset manufacturers, many people simply don’t even consider a Nokia when buying a high end phone, or smartphone.

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