Monday, December 8, 2008

Broadcasting your life with Nokia viNe

Nokia announced viNe sometime ago. Someone could call it as a modified SportsTracker that gives you the opportunity to share the route you have traveled, pictures and videos you have taken, or songs you have listened. ViNe records your journey using GPS when it is available. If it is not available, viNe will connect last and current position with the shortest possible line.
1. Starting point.

2. ViNe saves the music you've listened and pictures and videos you've taken.

3. After you've accomplished your route, you can add tags to your viNe.

I'm not sure what one should call it, in a way it is a modified SportsTracker but it is also a subset of SportsTracker because the application doesn't offer as much training information as SportsTracker. Maybe viNe is a SportsTracker for an everyday user who is not interested in all the possible training information? You cannot for example specify type of workout and see as much information about your journey/training but the upload is much more convenient and you can add tags. ViNe shares your information to everyone and you cannot restrict this in any way. In SportsTracker you were able to restrict your audience. I think this is something that some users will not like.

Few other differences between SportsTracker and viNe are that in viNe you are able to move in the map. It doesn't utilize the map information that Maps is using but it caches the map information so it works quite fine. When you are viNing, you cannot see any details of your route, e.g. distance and speed that you can see when you are using SportsTracker.

When you upload your viNe it will go to two different places, to viNe and to SportsTracker. ViNe will also replace your SportsTracker user ID with Nokia Account user ID. This means that you will get rid of one useless user ID. ViNe probably tells you about this, but I didn't notice this and had some difficulties accessing SportsTracker before I realized that my user ID had changed. I think that this was a really good idea from Nokia. I hope this trend continues because nobody likes too many user IDs.

4. Your viNes are published to viNe -service.

5. Same time your viNes are published to SportsTracker -service.

I don't know what is the main idea behing viNe, and I haven't seen any discussion about this, although I haven't been searching so much. One idea that came to my mind is that Nokia tries to use social networks for modeling the world's most interesting places. This would be different approach than Google's Drive. Do you have any other ideas?

I first thought that viNe would have been introduced through Nokia Beta Labs like SportsTracker, but apparently Nokia thinks it is a finalized product. I would like to disagree with this because at least I have had some difficulties with it, e.g. it crashes quite often with my N96. I just updated my N96 to version 12.043. I hope viNe works better with this new software version.

Here is a list of bugs and some features I would like to see in the future:
  • It tags only the first songs name and artist. (See picture 3.)
  • Sometimes it tags city (Helsinki) but not always. It could also tag parts of the city like Punavuori, Ullanlinna and Kamppi.
  • It could show album art of the listened music.

6. Album art is not shown.

  • ViNe's internet service's search should work better. At the moment it is difficult to find anything or anybody.
  • Could there be a way of following your friends?
  • Could there be a possibility to restrict your audience?
  • Could there be a possiblity to buy music that someone else has been listening in their viNes'?
  • ViNe should automatically upload pictures and videos to Share on Ovi.
  • Embedded widget could show only desired viNes, e.g. your own or your friends. Usually there are desired audience you want to share information with or follow.

7. Embedded viNe widget shows all the viNes.

  • Could viNe be combined with FriendView? You could see where your friend has been or is at the moment?
  • Could viNe updates be offered in RSS format?
  • Could you send your viNe to some of your friend, e.g. "look at my cool journey"? This could be also available in mobile format.
  • Could you provide more information during viNing, e.g. distance?
  • Could viNe show a dotted line in saved journey when GPS hasn't been available?
  • Could viNe use either cellular or WiFi positioning when GPS is not available?
  • Is Nokia doing any co-operation with different heart rate monitoring companies, e.g. Polar or Suunto? This kind of co-operation would provide all the necessary information that you need when working out.
All in all this application seems interesting and I think I'll continue using both viNe and SportsTracker. You have to remember that viNe and SportsTracker are almost identical; viNe is basically a SportsTracker with a facelift. If you want to follow my viNes, search for teppoj.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

AppStore vs. Download! - The good, the bad and the ugly

I'm not a great Apple fan, but I must say that I admire how they have been able to change people's way of using different mobile applications. There is a wide range of different mobile applications for S60 and other mobile devices, but still the usage is relatively low if you compare it with applications available for iPhone or iTouch. Kai Öistämö from Nokia mentioned in Symbian Smartphone Show that there are around 10.000 applications for S60. This is quite a big number of applications but the truth is that without a proper distribution channel and easy enough installation method nobody will use these applications.

Apple on the other hand have managed to introduce 10.000 applications through AppStore in a relatively short time. If I remember correctly AppStore was opened on around June 2008 which means 10.000 applications in less than 6 months. have created a tribute page which shows all the applications available in AppStore.

I listed some of the good, bad and ugly in Apple's and Nokia's way of offering applications and installing them. After these lists, there are multiple screenshots illustrating the user experience of finding and installing an application.


The good (positive):

  • Offers wide range of applications.

  • Search works really well. This is important when you have lots of applications.

  • Fast. iPhone doesn't ask too many questions when using AppStore.

  • Really easy to use. Just browse to an application that you like, click install and installation process starts.

  • Updates. AppStore informs the user about possible updates.

  • Easy payment process. Uses iTunes payment methods.

The bad (negative):

  • The only place for finding applications.

  • Applications don't have a test period, at least I haven't noticed this.

  • iTunes id is needed for installing even free applications.

  • iTunes is the only payment method.

The ugly (improvements and thoughts):

  • Suggestions. AppStore could suggest applications that other users have installed, just like e.g. AppStore through iTunes does this.

  • What happens to compatibility if Apple introduces more devices?


The good (positive):

  • Not the only place for finding applications because you can find applications anywhere from the Internet.

  • Most of the applications offer trial period possibilities.

  • You can use any credit card for paying.

The bad (negative):
  • Only limited number of applications.

  • Search doesn't work well enough.

  • Somebody can find it difficult to use because device asks quite many questions, e.g. used internet connection and where to install the application.

  • Relatively slow when updating content in different folders.

The ugly (improvements and thoughts):

  • Usability should be much better.

  • Updating different folders should be more seamless, not asking question from the user all the time.

  • Number of available applications should be much higher.

Screenshots of installing an application from the AppStore:

1. You can find AppStore from the main menu. AppStore also informs the user about possible updates (red 1 in AppStore's top-right corner).

2. AppStore advertises recent applications.

3. Applications are divided to Paid and Free sections.

4. There is also an application Top list.

5. Searching for Facebook application.

6. Search results.

7. More information about the application.

8. Free button toggles to Install button when you press it. After pressing Install, the installation starts.

9. You need to use iTunes' credentials to be able to install applications.

10. Installation process ongoing.

11. Installation finished. You can find installed application from the main menu.

Screenshots of installing an application from Download!:

1. You'll find Download! from the main menu.

2. Download! asks used connection really often, although phone should be able to choose desired connection.

3. Search possibilities after choosing Options - Search and about to search Facebook -application.

4. One search result but it is not shown on the first page.

5. You have to scroll down to see all the results.

6. The search result.

7. After choosing Details - Get, phone shows information about the application.

8. Choosing where to install the application.

9. After installation application can be found from Applications folder.

10. Most of the applications have trial possibilities like ForecaWeather.

11. You can also use multiple credit cards for paying.