[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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The Nokia N8 that stole my heart.

Everyone remembers Nokia as the handset we all owned, it was the ultimate cool symbol before phones got smart and is still renowned for their solid build and durable nature. In fact, you’ll still see many people wandering around with the old 3210! But while we remember the 3210, Nokia has come on leaps and bounds, launching it’s new flagship smartphone the N8 earlier this year.

Nokia 3210

The Nokia 3210, one of the old reliables

I’ve had the chance to play around with the N8 and I have to say it’s an impressive phone. All that I knew and loved about Nokia came flooding back, the N8 really is a winner and I almost considered swapping my iPhone for it (almost).

Once you pick up the N8 you’re instantly surprised by just how light it feels, weighing less than the iPhone it’s almost featherlight. It is a bit more bulky though, thicker than the iPhone 4 and still again that bit bigger than the 3G. This is mostly from the camera lens on the back, but I’ll get to that soon. On the looks, it’s a real contender. Very sleek and smooth, it looks and feels durable, much more so than any HTC phone or the iPhone. You really do feel like you could chuck it at a wall and pick it up and go on texting.

The Nokia N8

The very solid, very sleek N8!

The screen is slightly smaller than the iPhone, and the difference between the retina display and the N8’s AMOLED capacitive touch screen is noticeable, the N8 display when viewing text heavy websites is not the easiest to read. The screen is responsive though, you can glide around withe relative ease, again it doesn’t feel as smooth as the iPhone but you get used to it and it does feel just as comfortable. You’ll also notice a small feedback vibration at each tap, it’s nice but gets a bit old fast and I haven’t figured out how to switch it off.

The camera is the most impressive piece of this hardware, 12 megapixel it’s truly a monster, the quality is perfect and unmistakeable. Streets ahead of the iPhone, it’s worth the little bit extra bulk on the back. Personally I’m trying to figure out how e camera quality can actually be so good when squeezed into such a light handset, it has some echoes of a Mary Poppins handbag.

The battery is also pretty strong, I’ve been messing around with this for a few days now all on one charge, and it hasn’t made a peep about running even 50% power. WiFi ANC 3G capable with two cameras, one front facing for video calls and 16GB storage natively with room for up to 32GB more using an SD card.

What probably let’s the phone down the most is the software. Sum Ian just never daunt onto the smartphone Market and just couldn’t make the leap over, hence the attempted jump onto Meego with the N9 and the Microsoft deal earlier in the year.

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9, big attempt to refine the N8 design

There’s a lot to like about Symbian ^3, multi-tasking out of the box, a lot of focus given to mobile data with social networks, news feeds and mail all being accessible from the home screen from the moment you switch it on. While it’s a nice operating system, it’s just not as smooth as iOS or Android. There’s a clunkiness you just can’t ignore, and it can feel a little exerting navigating your way around.

The main problem for Symbian is that whereas the other two major OS’s were build from the ground up with smartphones in mind, Symbian is very much an evolution of older systems and seems to be slightly stuck in the days of Nokia’s dominance of the phone Market, before smartphones arrived on the scene. So the whole navigation structure is rigged towards what used to work on button based handsets. Another major gripe I’ve had is a lack of Mac compatibility, which took me a while to work around.

If you’re looking to download apps for your phone, the Ovi Store comes preloaded, and works very similar to the other app stores. The selection isn’t as wide, but it offers everything from apps to themes and ringtones for your phone, and it’s actually pretty easy to get around. There’s no Facebook or Twitter apps, but you can use MySocial, which is preloaded on the phone as a nice alternative.

Nokia Ovi store

The very handy, Nokia Ovi Store with over 1.7 million downloads daily

Overall the N8 is a winning handset. It looks good, feels good and is a joy to use. Mostly let down by the operating system which just doesn’t cut the mustard in the age of the iPhone. If Nokia want to keep ahead, they need to utilise their innovation in software, as it seems to be that the other handsets are using their ideas before they do. NFC Payments on phones are a good example, Nokia patented this ages ago, but there seems to be no plans to implement this on any handsets!

Software 5.5/10 – nice, but not wowed

Hardware 10/10 – solid, sleek and simple

Camera 10/10 – Stunning.

Overall 8.5/10 – great phone, pleasure to use.

iOS 5, OS X Lion and iCloud but no iPhone 5?

Apple’s WWDC promises to bring in many new features to the range, but just what can we expect?

There’s a lot of buzz at the moment around next week’s World Wide Developer Conference. Steve Jobs, who is still on sick leave from Apple will be announcing a new line of products including the much anticipated OS X Lion and iOS 5 for iPhone and iPad along with a brand new service called iCloud.

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What to Expect from the iPhone 5

It seems like just yesterday that we were all lining up outside stores for the iPhone 4, eagerly awaiting the newest of Apple’s smartphones. Now we’re beginning to speculate over the iPhone 5 which will apparently be the pinnacle of mobile technology.

It’s exected that the iPhone 5 will be released this summer, with a similar date to the iPhone 4, which means we in Ireland should be getting it sometime in early August.  It’s widely believed that there’s going to be a few big changes to the next generation of the world’s most famous handset and in Ireland, should be on all the main networks apart from HTC-tastic Meteor and Emobile.

So, some of the big changes which are being rumoured for the iPhone 5 are the new A5 chip, which is already being used in the iPad 2 so that one pretty much makes sense. Another bunch of changes being rumoured are a better camera, larger memory storage and in the long run the new iOS5 which could potentially be sometime around the iPhone 5 launch.

Some of the more interesting suggestions, which have been put forward, are that there will be two models brought out, one lower end which would be an iPhone Nano with a smaller screen and lower storage capacity and a larger screen version (possibly 5inches) to combat the growing popularity of the HTC Desire HD. This is all speculation, but does seem to fit into Apple looking to take on a more pro-active approach to combat the growth of Android. However, Apple still control one of the largest market shares and the largest app store so whether they really want to branch out beyond their niche is questionable.

Personally, I don’t think Apple will go for a lower-end model. It doesn’t fit in with Apple’s image, and they essentially control the niche market in which they inhabit. Is the iPhone 5 worth buying? Possibly. If you haven’t gotten the iPhone 4, you should definitely upgrade to the iPhone 5 and ditch your 3G/S but if you’re on the iPhone 4 I don’t really see any great advancements being made with the 5th generation.

 

9 Reasons not to buy an iPhone 5

9 Reasons not to buy the iPhone 5

iPad 2 hits the production lines.

The rumour mill is churning now, today it has been announced after much expectation that the iPad 2 has begun manufacture. The sequel to the best selling product of 2010, and what is widely seen as one of the pillars of Apple’s success is surrounded by mystery, speculation and curiosity, but not just from the fans.

Many apple shareholders see the iPad 2 as a test of Apples market strength without Steve Jobs at the helm. Still on medical leave, this is the first major product launched without Jobs since he returned to the computer company. Since he went on leave, stocks dived and investors got a little bit panicked over what they see as the company itself taking sick leave. Many still believe that Apple cannot survive without Jobs.

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iOS 4, worth it? Really?

Apologies must firstly be given for the unforgivable delay in this blog, but it has given me time to truly asses and appreciate the new iPhone operating system, or iOS 4 as it’s now named.

I’ve had a few gripes with the update, which brings about some sweeping changes to the worlds most popular phone. But I’ll be dealing with my gripes later, the plus points and benefits are just huge.

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iPhone 4, all the things you should know…

The long awaited day has finally arrived, yes, earlier this week Apple presented to the world the new iPhone 4, the biggest update to smart phones, well since the iphone itself was launched only three years ago.

The keynote given by Steve jobs the other day brushed over a few other updates, and omitted others, such as Safari 5 and general updates to the Mac mini line, all in between WiFi fails while trying to demonstrate sites on the iPhone.

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