Category Archives: Apple

Stop Buying The iPhone 4. Save Yourself Money & Get A Lumia 520 Instead

Apple has all sorts of schemes running in India to promote the iPhone 4. You can trade old devices, get it on EMI, make zero down payments and so on. But there are two facts that you cannot get away from, it costs close to 25,000 INR and it will soon be 3 years old. Three years is an eternity in the world of technology, you certainly do not want to be paying that kind of money for a device that will soon be a relic. Yes, it will get iOS 7 but that’s where Apple is so smart. A bland iPhone 4 to get iOS 7 statement doesn’t tell you that a bunch of iOS 7 features will not make it to the iPhone 4. Just as a bunch of iOS 6 features previously hadn’t. E.g. Like it was with iOS 6, you still won’t be able to take panoramas, you’ll get no filters in the camera app, and the real biggie – no AirDrop support. Plus most of the fancy animations and visuals that iOS 7 brings is a no-go too.

Further having recently used an iPhone 4 running iOS 6, I can tell you that you can immediately notice that you’re playing with old hardware. There are lags, the scrolling in apps isn’t smooth, the app launch times are slow and there are random stutters – all in all, its doesn’t feel very Apple anymore. On the other hand it still has its positivities, the 3.5″ retina display, the premium construction and for a lot of people the Apple brand name. But does it make sense to pay something like 25,000 INR for the pleasure of owning an ‘iPhone’? No.

Stop Buying The iPhone 4. Save Yourself Money & Get A Lumia 520 Instead

Here’s what you should do. Save yourself 15,000 INR and get a Lumia 520 instead. It costs about 9400 INR, comes in a bunch of colours – red and yellow being my favourites, but there are the more traditional black, white and cyan options too. The colour is an obvious talking point, and not for one second does the device look cheap, if that’s what you’re worried about. Put a 3 year old iPhone 4 on the table and a red Lumia 520 along side it, and guess which is the device that will draw more attention.

Despite having 512 MB of RAM, it is actually smoother than the iPhone. The dual-core processor helps and Windows Phone is very smooth in itself. There may be the odd app that takes a second more to resume, but overall the experience will be much better. Don’t worry too much about the apps. The basics are all there now. Facebook has a good app, so does Twitter, Foursquare, PVR, HDFC, Book My Show and Zomato – all apps I use on an everyday basis. Whats App was recently overhauled too.

Nokia’s Services = More value for money

Then, you get the Nokia goodies. Mix Radio for streaming curated playlists that are usually excellent, unlimited song downloads from a huge catalogue of songs (DRM free so you can send them via bluetooth, email them or listen to them on a PC), and finally you can even create your own stream based on artists you like. This is a big deal once you start using it, I have virtually stopped downloading music because of this.

Next there is Nokia’s mapping suit – HERE Drive, Maps, Public Transport, and City Lens. Owing to things like offline maps and great coverage, this is the best navigation solution on the phone – for most tasks it beats Google Maps as they are reliant on a data connection for everything. The Lumia 520 also has a decent camera, and comes with things like Smart Shoot and Cinemagram out of the box. With the Lumia 520 you also get a 4″ 800 x 480 screen, its no retina display (3.5″ 960×640 on the iPhone 4) but a lot of people seem to be willing to live with slightly lower pixel density in return for a bigger screen.

Thus, in the process you not only save a considerable amount of money, but you also get a device that’s pretty solid and packs a lot for its price. A friend of mine recently sold an old iPhone 4 and picked up the Lumia 520 instead; and this post is also partly a result of his experience.

My advice is this, if you don’t want to save money and get the Lumia 520, don’t. But under no circumstances should you buy the iPhone 4.

Camera Shoot Out: iPhone 5 v. Lumia 928 v. Lumia 720

I have had the distinct pleasure of carrying three extremely capable camera phones with me, the iPhone 5, Nokia’s Verizon exclusive Lumia 928 and the Lumia 720. While the iPhone 5 and the Lumia 928 are flagship devices, the Lumia 720 is the surprise that keeps on delivering. For a mid range device, it has an exceptional camera capable of some amazing low light performance.

But before we get into the nitty grittiness of which camera is better, or what advantages or disadvantages each brings, lets look at a few photos shot in varying lighting conditions. The first photo will be the iPhone 5, follow by the Lumia 720 and the Lumia 928 in the end. Clicking on each photo will get you the full resolution image.

iPhone 5

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 02

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 03

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 04

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 05

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 06

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 08

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 09

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 10

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 11

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 12

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

The iPhone 5, just like the iPhone 4S before it have long been hailed as some of the best camera phones on the planet, and it is for good reason. The iPhone rarely lets you down, and the ability to tap to adjust the exposure is a boon, like none other. That really comes in handy when the picture you’re trying to take has a bright light in the background. The pictures produced are generally sharp, but when it comes to low light photos despite the 808 PureView like compression that the iPhone 5 employs, there does tend to be a lot of noise. Leaving HDR on also helps as you get two photos, and get effectively choose between the better looking one in the end.

The Lumias on the other hand both work their magic in the low light. The Lumia 720 with its industry leading f1.9 aperture lets a lot of light in, while the Lumia 928 with its Xenon flash and Optical Image Stabilisation takes a slightly different approach. The OIS means that the shutter can stay open longer and let more light in, minus the camera shake. You cannot unfortunately force the Xenon to fire, it will only be used if the phone determines that there isn’t enough light. So you cannot use it like a fill-in flash when shooting against the sun for example. Fortunately there is a ‘Backlight’ mode in the Lumias that takes care of this problem, but you have to choose it everytime from the camera settings.

While I tried to keep the settings as default most of the time, due to the Lumia 928’s OIS some night pictures would turn up too bright. That means that you must play with the exposure to get that perfect shot.

So based on my experience with these three devices, here is what I think. The iPhone 5 is a great dependable camera that does most things well, the Lumia 720 despite the much cheaper price does an excellent job in keeping up, and at times even manages to beat the iPhone. The first two photos are a prime example of that. The Lumia 928 is the most capable camera of the 3, but not if you only use it in the default mode. However once you start playing around with the settings, it really comes into its own. Expect a much bigger gallery of Lumia 928 images soon.

Any questions, let me know!

iPhone: How To Open WhatsApp’s Shared Locations In Google Maps

One of my favourite WhatsApp features is the ability to share your location, telling a friend where you are has never been easier. Once the location has been received you can simply jump into the maps app by clicking on the location so received, and get directions. This worked very well before iOS 6, and Apple’s infamous Maps app came along. As things stand, while there is a Google Maps app for the iPhone, but clicking on the view location in WhatsApp only lets you navigate using Apple Maps – which is pretty much pointless.

Fortunately there is a workaround and you can indeed use Google Maps in conduction with WhatsApp. Once you have received the location simply long-press and choose copy.

iPhone: How To Open WhatsApp's Shared Locations In Google Maps iPhone: How To Open WhatsApp's Shared Locations In Google Maps

Now open Google Maps and paste the location you’ve copied into the search bar, in the end will be the exact latitude and longitude. Leave that and delete all the other text in the link. Now simply hit search.

iPhone: How To Open WhatsApp's Shared Locations In Google Maps iPhone: How To Open WhatsApp's Shared Locations In Google Maps

Voila the location will pop-up and now you can use Google Maps to navigate to the destination. In the future I’m hoping WhatsApp will make utilising Google Maps over Apple Maps seamless, till then there’s this workaround.

Running iOS 6? Its Time To Start Using The Nokia Maps Web App

The biggest change that iOS 6 brings is the all new Apple developed Maps application. This means that you now need to say goodbye to Google Maps, and its excellent search and points of interest (POI) database. Sadly, despite what I assume were Apple’s best efforts, the Maps app is practically useless. There are no public transport directions, voice guided navigation is limited to a handful of countries, there are no offline maps, the search is nothing to write home about and the POI database is a joke. Finally, the Maps coverage, specially in India is a joke, specially when compared with Nokia or Google’s offerings. Oh, and Flyover (Apple’s bird’s eye view implementation) works in a handful of cities, not countries.

Running iOS 6? Its Time To Start Using The Nokia Maps Web App

So if have an iPhone 5 or are running iOS 6 on an existing device, you’re out of luck. Fortunately, a little while ago Nokia started developing a web app for Nokia Maps, targeted towards Android and iOS. That app has matured over time and offers a lot of functionality that you would be missing with Apple’s Maps. Google similarly has a web app as well.

Nokia Maps Web App (m.maps.nokia.com):

  • Really excellent coverage.
  • Offline caching of Maps, great for times when you don’t have a speedy internet connection.
  • Public Transport.
  • Voice guided walk navigation.
  • Excellent POI database.
  • POI view, to quickly see interesting places around you.
  • No voice guided navigation, but Apple’s Maps app can’t even route to a place only 2 miles away. So the ability to follow the route in real time by looking at Nokia Maps seems like a minor miracle for an Apple owner.

Nokia Maps iOS 6

  • Nokia Maps web app on the iPhone. Excellent all round coverage.

Nokia Maps iOS 6

  • Ability to set Favourites, jump into the POI view etc.

Nokia Maps iOS 6

  • Pre-cache a fixed area. If you want cover a lot of area, zoom out. However that comes at the cost of the level of detail you will see. Don’t expect to save entire cities, but great if you know the neighbourhood you’re going to be in.

Nokia Maps iOS 6

  • Drive and Walk Navigation. Public Transport in a growing number of cities.

Nokia Maps iOS 6

  • Jumping between different modes of navigation is very easy.

Nokia Maps iOS 6

  • A small download and you can have voice navigation while walking around. Great for times when you have your earphones on.

Nokia Maps iOS 6

  • Tap anywhere on the map and you can navigate to that place, or get POI information around it.

Nokia Maps iOS 6

  • Share places via text, on Facebook, Twitter etc.
Wondering why do I hate the new Apple Maps so much? Here’s what Chandigarh looks like on Nokia’s application.

Nokia Maps iOS 6

This is what Apple’s app could muster:

Nokia Maps iOS 6

Seriously. Forget the fact that India gets no voice guided navigation, the real bummer is that the app fails to route over short distances as well. Apple’s Maps app is not just bad, its annoyingly bad.

Time to put m.maps.nokia.com on the homescreen.

HDFC Bank Releases An App For The iPhone: Windows Phone & Android Versions In The Works

One of India’s leading banks, HDFC has launched an iPhone/iPod app to facilitate banking on the go, and the good news is that versions for Android and Windows Phone are in the works too. The application is fully featured and lets you perform all those tasks for which you would normally have to login to netbanking on the computer.

HDFC Bank also has a mobile optimized website that can be accessed at m.hdfcbank.com which will let you accomplish a lot of these tasks until an app for your favourite platform comes along.

HDFC Bank Releases An App For The iPhone, Windows Phone & Android Versions In The Works HDFC Bank Releases An App For The iPhone, Windows Phone & Android Versions In The Works

The iPhone version isn’t optimised for the retina display of the iPhone 4/4S, but at least it lets you get work done. You can login with the customer ID and netbanking password. The applications lets you:

  • Pay utility bills, credit card bills, etc.
  • View Account summaries and Fixed Deposit summaries
  • Transfer funds ,including transfers to other bank customers
  • Request statements, cheque book, stop payment and more.

The iPhone does not enjoy a commanding position in India when it comes to marketshare, but due to sheer mindshare it still gets the apps first. But what is good to see is that Windows Phone despite not being every popular just yet, is also on the radar and Nokia’s push does seem to be having an effect.

HDFC Bank is also on Twitter, feel free to tell them how much you want a Windows Phone or Android version of the app. Download the iOS version here.

How I Got Pulled Into Apple’s Ecosystem & Why Soon It’ll Be Too Late To Get Out

The real magic in Apple’s products isn’t that they are great looking or that they come with great features, the real steal is in the fact that each one makes you want to buy the next one, across product lines. Just like iPods sold Macs back in the day, today iPhones sell iPads and vice-versa. Talking to a friend yesterday I realised that I have (un)knowingly become completely entrenched in Apple’s world. At the time of writing this I own a MacBook Pro, an iPad 2, an iPhone 4S and an Apple TV. This did not happen overnight and I am concerned.

The Move To A Mac

I switched from a Windows laptop (an HP tablet PC) to a Macbook in 2009 and very soon I grew to absolutely love it. Infact working on a Windows machine started turning into a not so pleasant idea. With this my perception of Apple as a brand changed. It went from being a company that had its set of fans that at times mindlessly raved about it, to one I actually started paying more and more attention to. This was of course after the introduction of the iPhone, and looking at the first few iterations I had decided that there was no way I was switching to one.

So for the next year or so, I happily used a Mac along with a Symbian/Maemo/Android device. Then the iPad came along. My first reaction to it was the exact same one that I had to the iPhone – too restricted, no multitasking and so on. However, iOS 4 came along and with it came multitasking. I took a long hard look at the iPad and decided that I wanted one, and what clinched it for me was the fact the that even if I needed to do a task necessary for a ‘power user’, then I’d have my smartphone which wasn’t shackled one bit.

With that I took a keen liking to the iPad, and slowly but surely its limitations became a less of an annoyance. The quality of apps and the general utility of the device was worth the sacrifice. Then the iPad 2 came along, so did Airplay and while picking up the iPad 2, I also got an Apple TV. Wirelessly showing off photos and videos did sound very cool, and 99$ wasn’t a huge deal. With iOS 5 Airplay really improved, more and more apps started taking advantage of it and wireless mirroring meant that if you could see it on the iPad, you could see it on the TV.

An iPad Sells An iPhone

By the end of 2011, I had been using Apple devices for 3 years, iOS for the better part of 2. Some things still bothered me, but I had become used to the Apple way of things. Yet, till this time I had never used an iPhone as a primary device. This is where’s Apple’s mastery at making one product sell another comes in. It was because I had been using an iPad, I was ready to switch to an iPhone. For all the limitations of iTunes, one thing that works great is wireless sync. Being able to put music, photos, video etc onto the iPhone or even back it up wirelessly is fantastic. The iPhone or iPad could be anywhere in the house and you’d still be able to act as if it is plugged into the computer.

Apple TV

Another huge draw was the fact that a ton of quality ‘paid for’ apps were already waiting for me. Spending money on the same apps on Android/Windows Phone/Symbian and then on iOS for the iPad didn’t make much sense, yes I could have the best of both worlds, but was that so necessary?

The fact that you can buy an app on the iPad and in more cases than not it’ll automatically be downloaded on your iPhone too, for free, makes a lot of psychological difference. E.g. I recently bought the iPhoto for iOS app on the iPad – it is 5$, but when you see it on the iPhone too its almost like you got 50% off, or got it in a buy 1 get 1 scheme. This definitely encourages you to buy more apps, the knowledge that two device will be benefitting from a single purchase lets you pull the trigger much easier. This means that slowly you’ll come to a point where you’ll have a substantial amount of money invested in that platform.
All my Apple devices talk to each other seamlessly. Everything is wireless and it involved no setting up whatsoever. Now the iPhone 4S isn’t the only phone I use, for the sake of keeping current I use the Galaxy S2 too and carry a Lumia 800 along most of the time for the freshness of Windows Phone. But if whenever I need to copy music and pictures, I need to get the USB cable out. I cannot seamlessly show photos on the TV and DLNA is still hit and miss for the common man. All of this pushes me into the Apple ecosystem more and more.

What can change this status-quo?

There isn’t a compelling reason to switch to an Android tablet, and Android in general is too fragmented to create such an ecosystem. Plus there is no Android on the PC. The only people who can pull this off are Nokia and Microsoft.

Windows 8

But there are a few fundamental things they need to do first. The vision is there – an Xbox instead of the Apple TV, Xbox live/Skydrive instead of iCloud, Windows 8 phones and tablets in sync, and a lovely Windows 8 powered laptop. But will they be able to make everything so seamless? Instead of keeping the phone and tablet in sync with each other, Microsoft has decided to keep the tablet and the PC in sync. Something Apple has avoided, Lion looks nothing like iOS on the iPad, yes some features are inspired by it, but that’s it.

What this means is that apps in all probability the apps that you buy once from the Windows Store on the PC should automatically become available on the Windows 8 tablet as well. But this will only happen if they are Metro (ARM compatible) apps. The usual x86 apps won’t work on ARM tablets and that’s where the seamless chain is broken, ergo less incentive for the users to put money down in your ecosystem. (Yes there will probably be X86 tablets also, but I don’t see Nokia doing one).

Next, very few apps will work across both the tablet and phone, and because the developer will have had to do some work to optimse for each; I doubt he’d be willing to offer an iOS like 2 for 1 deal.

Next we need an AirPlay equivalent, doesn’t matter if its DLNA based or ABCD based, it should have an easy to remember name and be bulletproof. Wireless syncing across all devices is a must, and I would go so far as to add WIFI direct capabilities as well. Make it extra seamless.

The problem is that time is really running out. The next wave of retina display powered MacBooks will really begin to impact the Windows laptop market. Macs are no longer the more expensive option, the iPad is the best value for money tablet around and the iPhone isn’t showing signs of a slowing down. All of this puts a lot of pressure on Windows 8. Nokia World 2012 happens end of September, so this means we’ll have not only the Windows 8 release for tablets and PC’s, but also Windows Phone 8 in Q4. If they don’t have an answer to this Borg like ecosystem that just keeps sucking you in, starting the end of this year, it won’t matter what they do in 2014.

The outlook is bright, there are a few niggles here and there, but the bigger picture isn’t bleak. Time to deliver.

Almost forgot – Nokia, if your Nokia World 2012 flagships don’t have an a retina like display for both the phone and possible tablet, don’t bother.