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kottke.org posts about mobile phones

Remembering machines

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 02, 2009

Matt Jones: mobile devices are a super power.

He sees mobile as something of a super power device and described something he calls “bionic noticing” — obsessively recording curious things he sees around him, driven by this multi-capable device in his pocket.

We Work Remotely

Flexible network usage for mobile phones

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 25, 2008

Google has filed a patent that might eliminate the need for mobile phone users to choose a single network. Instead, a piece of software would poll all available networks and select the most appropriate one based on price.

Devices using the system would send networks a description of their requirements — for example, a phone call or access to the internet — and receive back bids with a per-minute cost, or flat rate, at which those needs could be met. Users can either manually accept the bid that looks best to them, or have the phone choose one automatically, based on pre-programmed criteria.

Besides being a brain-dead obvious idea — nice work once again, USPTO — if a system like this were put in place, calling Mom on Mother’s Day would get a whole lot more expensive, as would calls and data usage during other peak times or locations.

Update: I’m reminded that this is just an application, not an accepted patent, so my “nice work” comment doesn’t apply. But I would imagine that patents coming from Google have little trouble getting accepted. (thx, mike)

Attention American parents: Mobile phones and text

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 11, 2008

Attention American parents: Mobile phones and text messages are sexually molesting our children!!! Ah, CNN…

The Indian letter writing industry (for those

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 26, 2007

The Indian letter writing industry (for those who are unable to write themselves) is all but extinct because of near-ubiquitous mobile phones and text messaging.

Mr. Sawant mourns the demise of the letter culture. After dropping a letter in the box, he used to imagine its winding journey. Someone far away would open what he had written on someone else’s behalf; the reader would savor its kind words or its little secrets, then maybe file it away in a box, and perhaps revisit it weeks later in a burst of nostalgia.

But even Sawant admits that ringing his daughter on his mobile is much easier than writing a letter.

Remembrance of Phones Past

posted by Adam Lisagor   Dec 05, 2007

I once went through a painful, protracted breakup, conducted almost entirely over this LG phone. It wasn’t a bad phone, but to this day, even a picture of it is like a punch to the gut - its Major-thirds ringtone, the wallpaper mocking my heartache with its cheery blue sky. I feel a little nauseous even describing it (my description may just be nauseating, in fairness).

In 2001, I spoke to my father on this Kyocera smartphone from 8th Avenue, having run up the block from work just in time to see the first tower fall. I don’t have to go into all the emotional baggage which that implies.

Now, in my current phase, I probably don’t have enough perspective to characterize what of me is reflected in my current phone, but I think that in a while, I’ll have an idea.

Since the time began that we were never to be found without our mobile phones (or whichever portable devices, for that matter), I feel that somehow all of the memories of the current chapter of my life are being constantly averaged out and inextricably linked to the phone that I’m using.

Do you have any similar experiences to share? Do you think that linking my identity to my gadgets entails a sort of anthropomorphism? What do you think Proust would have to say about all this? (I’ve never read Proust, so I’m honestly asking.) Other insightful references to prior discussions or great thinkers would be helpful as well.

Update: Michael Leddy at orange crate art has been mining his Proust and has turned up an incredibly relevant passage to the discussion:

…a thing which we have looked at long ago, if we see it again, brings back to us, along with our original gaze, all the images which that gaze contained. This is because things — a book in its red binding, like the rest — at the moment we notice them, turn within us into something immaterial, akin to all the preoccupations or sensations we have at that particular time, and mingle indissolubly with them.

-Marcel Proust, Finding Time Again

The design of the iPhone is such

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 30, 2007

The design of the iPhone is such that all other mobile phones, including those released after the iPhone, look not only old but antiquated and even defective. IMO.

1984 all over again?

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 07, 2007

Google recently announced that a bunch of companies (aka the Open Handset Alliance) were getting together to make cell phones that run on an open platform called Android. That was a couple of days ago so maybe someone else has already made the imperfect comparison between this and Mac vs. PC circa 1984, but if not:

1984 2007

Or perhaps Steven Frank has it right:

A 34-company committee couldn’t create a successful ham sandwich, much less a mobile application suite.

Did you know that you’re paying anywhere

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 30, 2007

Did you know that you’re paying anywhere from $150 to $1000 per megabyte of message data for SMS on your phone?

TV commercial for a mobile phone from 1989. (thx, malatron)

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 02, 2007

TV commercial for a mobile phone from 1989. (thx, malatron)

John Gruber’s initial assessment of the iPhone,

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 30, 2007

John Gruber’s initial assessment of the iPhone, a lot more thorough than mine.

Quick iPhone review

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 30, 2007

- I’m kind of amazed that this thing lives up to the expectations I had for it. It’s an amazing device.

- To read RSS, just put a feed address into Safari and Apple redirects it through their iPhone feed reader. But it’s very much of an a la carte thing, one feed at a time. What’s needed is a proper newsreader with its own icon on home screen. Workarounds for now: Google Reader looks nice or you could make a collective feed that combines all the feeds you want to read on your iPhone and use that with the iPhone feed reader (Meg’s idea).

- I skipped the index finger and am right into the two thumb typing. With the software correction, it’s surprisingly easy. Or maybe I just have small lady thumbs.

- After fiddling with it for an hour, I know how to work the iPhone better than the Nokia I had for the past 2 years, even though the Nokia has far fewer capabilities.

- I could use the Google Maps app forever.

- When I go back to using my Macbook Pro, I want to fling stuff around the screen like on the iPhone. It’s an addictive way to interface with information.

- Finding Nemo looked really nice on the widescreen display.

- You can pinch and expand with two thumbs instead of your thumb and index finger.

- The camera is not what you would call great, but it’s as good as my old phone’s, which is about all I want out of it. The lack of video is a bit of a bummer.

- I Twittered from on line at the AT&T store that the line was moving slowly because they were doing in-store credit checks and contract sign-ups, contrary to what everyone had been told by Apple beforehand. That was not the case. They were just being super careful with everything…each phone and the bag that it went into had a bar code on it and they were scanning everything and running phones from the back of the store one at a time. The staff was helpful and courteous and it was a very smooth transaction, all things considered. I was on line for 2 hours before the store opened and then another 2 hours waiting to get into the store.

- The alert options (ringtones, vibrate options, messaging alerts, etc.) aren’t as fine-grained as I would like, but they’ll do for now.

- I have not tried the internet stuff on anything but my home WiFi network, so I don’t know about the EDGE network speed. Will try it out and about later.

- The Google Maps display shows the subway stops but not the full system map. Workaround: stick a JPG of the subway map in your iPhoto library and sync it up to the iPhone. Voila, zoomable, dragable NYC subway map.

- Wasn’t it only a year or two ago that everyone was oohing and aahing over Jeff Han’s touchscreen demos? And now there’s a mass-produced device that does similar stuff that fits it your pocket. We’re living in the future, folks…the iPhone is the hovercar we’ve all been waiting for.

Update:

- The iPhone is the first iPod with a speaker. Which means that in addition to using it as a speakerphone, you can listen to music, podcasts, YouTube videos, and movies without earphones. Which might seem a bit “eh”, but won’t once you have 15 people gathered around watching and listening to that funny bit from last night’s Colbert Report. You know, the Social.

- I’m getting my mail right off my server with IMAP, so when it gets to the phone, it hasn’t gone through Mail.app’s junk filters…which basically means that mail on the iPhone is useless for me. In the near future, I’m going to set things up to route through GMail prior to the phone to near-eliminate the spam.

- Tried the EDGE network while I was out and about. Seemed pretty speedy to me, not noticeably slower than my WiFi at home…which may say more about Time Warner’s cable modem speeds than EDGE.

- BTW, all of these first impressions are just that. You can’t judge a device or an interface without using it day to day for awhile. I’m curious to see how I and others are still liking the phone in two weeks.

- Everytime I connect the iPhone to my computer, Aperture launches. Do not want.

As people exchange their land lines for

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 08, 2007

As people exchange their land lines for mobile phones, phone books are getting smaller. “Americans have not been eager to list their cell numbers in phone books. Consumers and privacy advocates balked at the idea in 2004, when most of the big wireless carriers said they wanted to compile a nationwide directory. Cellphones may make it easier for people to reach each other, yet Americans are very guarded about whom they want calling them.”

Apple has released three new iPhone ads

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 03, 2007

Apple has released three new iPhone ads in advance of the device’s release date on June 29. The third ad is the money spot. The only remaining question: how likely am I to get one within a week or two of release without standing in line for hours on end? (via df, who notes that “No other cell phone is advertised by showing off the user interface.”)

Profile by Ken Auletta of Walt Mossberg,

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2007

Profile by Ken Auletta of Walt Mossberg, the WSJ’s technology columnist. It was interesting reading Mossberg’s opinion of the Sprint/Samsung UpStage. A couple friends of mine were testing this phone before it came out and it was one of the most poorly designed technology products that I’ve ever held in my hand. Who knows if the iPhone will actually be worth a crap, but Steve Jobs must rub his hands together with glee when he sees his competitors come out with stuff like this. Mossberg was too easy on it. Auletta has previously profiled Barry Diller, Pointcast, Andy Grove, and Nathan Myhrvold for the New Yorker.

pocket

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 28, 2007

Adam and David recently reminded me of pocket, an episode of 0sil8 I did back in 2001 (the second-to-last episode actually):

pocket

pocket was a broadcast mailing list for mobile phones. People signed up and then I sent them SMS messages on their phones periodically. As I recall it only lasted a few weeks before I shut it down; there just didn’t seem to be anything interesting about broadcasting short messages to a group of friends and strangers.

The Prada mobile phone.

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 18, 2007

The Prada mobile phone.

Jargon watch: “book” as a synonym for “

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 17, 2007

Jargon watch: “book” as a synonym for “cool”. Sample usage: “That YouTube video is so book.” As books are decidedly uncool, you might wonder how this usage came about. Book is a T9onym of cool…both words require pressing 2665 on the keypad of a mobile phone but book comes up before cool in the T9 dictionary, leading to inadvertent uses of the former for the latter. (thx, david)

David Pogue’s iPhone FAQ, part 2. Part 1 is here.

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 14, 2007

David Pogue’s iPhone FAQ, part 2. Part 1 is here.

Booksquare surmises that turned sideways, the iPhone

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 12, 2007

Booksquare surmises that turned sideways, the iPhone — with its bright 160 ppi screen — will be pretty decent for reading books and such. (via o’reilly)

Regarding some of the points in my

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 12, 2007

Regarding some of the points in my iPhone round-up from yesterday, David Pogue has some answers to those questions and a whole lot more in his iPhone FAQ. “Is it ambidextrous? -No.” What does that even mean? As a lefty, am I out of luck? (via df)

iPhone round-up

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 11, 2007

By now you’ve all heard about the iPhone and read 60 billion things about it, so I’ll get straight to it. I’ve been tracking some of the best points from around the web and jotted down some thoughts of my own.

Caveat: Evaluating an interface, software or hardware, is difficult to do unless you have used it. An interface for something like a mobile phone is something you use on the time-scale of weeks and months, not minutes or hours. There are certain issues you can flag as potential problems, challenges, or triumphs after viewing demos, descriptions of functions, and the like, but until you’re holding the thing in your hand and living with it day-to-day, you really can’t say “this is going to work this way” or “I don’t like the way that functions” with anything approaching absolute confidence. With that said:

And that’s enough, I think.

Comparison of the iPhone with other smart

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 09, 2007

Comparison of the iPhone with other smart phones…a nice companion piece to the comparison of my cardboard iPhone to various iPods, mobile phones, etc. So far, the market thinks that Apple’s got something good on their hands: Apple stock was up $7.10 today while RIMM (makers of Blackberry) dropped $11.16.

The Apple iPhone

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 09, 2007

Apple’s new iPhone looks like a thing of beauty. Widescreen touch interface, no buttons, runs OS X, useful widgets, integrated email, Google Maps, Google/Yahoo search, visual voicemail (see who voicemail is from before you call), SMS, Wifi, etc. etc. Oh, and it plays music.

A lot of people are wondering just how big this thing is. Using the technical specs from apple.com, I grabbed some cardboard, scissors, and glue and made a scale model of the iPhone. Here it is:

cardboard iPhone

My hands aren’t that big (I can barely palm a basketball on a good day), but it still seems to fit pretty well. How does it stack up against similar devices?

Here’s the iPhone vs. my current mobile phone, the Nokia 7610:

iPhone vs. Nokia 7610

iPhone vs. a 5G iPod:

iPhone vs. 5G iPod

Thickness of the cardboard iPhone vs. the 5G iPod:

iPhone vs. 5G Ipod thickness

1G iPod shuffle, 3G iPod, 5G iPod and the iPhone:

1G iPod shuffle, 3G iPod, 5G iPod and the iPhone

iPhone vs. a TiVo remote and a Wii remote:

iPhone vs. TiVo remote

iPhone vs. Wii remote

That’s all the gadgets I could find on a couple of hours notice.

I also dug up something I wrote a couple of years ago in the gigantic text file I keep on my Powerbook of ideas for kottke.org posts. 99% of the stuff in that file is completely dunderheaded, but I have to say I hit close to the mark on this one:

true convergence of phone + mp3 player will happen when someone solves this user experience puzzle: physically not enough room for two optimized interfaces (one for calls, one for music) on same small device. possible solution: no buttons, replace with touch screen that covers the whole front with one-touch switching between modes…

Once we’re able to get our hands on it and use the interface, the iPhone could turn out to be a disappointment, but they’re heading in the right direction at least. More thoughts soon.

(Like this story? Digg it.)

Apple introduces their iPhone. Keynote info here.

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 09, 2007

Apple introduces their iPhone. Keynote info here.

Interesting (and probably fake) photo of Apple’s

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 21, 2006

Interesting (and probably fake) photo of Apple’s alleged iPhone, which phone has no buttons…only a screen and a mousepad.

Some mobile phones come with water damage

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 19, 2006

Some mobile phones come with water damage stickers that change color when they get wet, thereby voiding the warranty on your phone if it stops working, no matter if the color change and the breakage is related. “As a designer, I would much prefer to look at the problem as ‘How can we improve the sealing of phones so that water ingress is no longer a major problem?’ than ‘How can we design something to cover our backs and shift all the blame onto the user for our design fault?’”

The oh, don’t forget site offers an

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 12, 2006

The oh, don’t forget site offers an easy way to send yourself (and other people) reminders to a mobile phone. An API for this would be great…you could (theoretically) send all your iCal appointment alarms to the service.

More and more people are using their

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 28, 2006

More and more people are using their mobile phones to tell time instead of watches. Telling time has always been the #1 function I use on my phone.

The Popularity Dialer will call you on

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 31, 2006

The Popularity Dialer will call you on your mobile phone so you can look busy and popular in front of your friends or coworkers.

Superman Returns

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 29, 2006

There’s a bit of a shout-out to citizen journalism in Superman Returns. Mid-movie, Daily Planet Editor in Chief White, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen look at some photos of Superman spread across the chief’s desk. They’re great, iconic photos of the Man of Steel in action. White berates Olsen (and I’m paraphrasing here), “these are great and they were taken by a kid with a cameraphone. Whadda you got, Olsen?” Olsen throws his photos down on the desk; the one on top depicts a distant blurry streak across a blue sky.

“Look, in the sky, Chief.”

“It’s a bird.”

“It’s a plane.”

“No, look, it’s…”

Score one for the man on the scene.