Category Archives: Mobile devices

Some stuff from IFA 2014

IFA Berlin 2014This Sunday I decided to skip enjoying the last warm sunny day of the summer, and go and see what’s cooking at the IFA 2014 Consumer Electronics fair in Berlin. This is not an exhaustive professional report in the way the big established blogs and magazines do, instead I am just going to mention a few things that I saw there and what I thought of them – in my own style. Some of the gadgets I saw were not brand new, having been on the market for a few weeks or months already, but I just happened to see them there for the first time. So, in random order, here we go:

Update1: Added a full photo set to Flickr

Samsung Gear S

Let’s say I’ve been sceptic of the first wave of smartwatches. My suspicion has been that they would be too large, too cumbersome, consume so much battery that they would be a bother to maintain, and ultimately useless… but, the Samsung Gear S was not THAT large, not THAT cumbersome, (battery life I couldn’t comment on without using it on a daily basis)… and it wasn’t THAT useless either.
The HERE-based Navigation feature seemed like a genuine thing. It was a bit slow in finding a route to the restaurant “The Bird” (my standard navigation test in Berlin) and typing the name of the venue was a bit hard on such a small screen… but it did work. For turn-by-turn walk navigation, that is. A tiny map display would sometimes work wonders in augmenting my sense of where I’m going though. Also I see a lot of potential in adding support for HERE Transit, too!
So, the tech is promising but I am going to wait for the second or third generation before considering purchasing anything… The thing has to become less bulky for starters.

Samsung Gear S


Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5

Having recently bought the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 for it’s impressive screen, performance and good size+weight, I was positively impressed by the flagship S model. The screen was even better than on the Pro, and remember I said I bought the Pro because of the awesome screen it had! The overall build quality and feel were also much improved – and good thing too, because the cheaper Pro model does have a decidedly plasticky, creaky feel to it and the cheap metal band surrounding the tablet frame fails to hide the fact. Well, you get what you pay for; the S model is almost 200 euros more expensive.
It is such a shame how Samsung continues to degrade the apparent feel of performance of their products by adding their own UI tweaks and features though.. and there is no Cyanogenmod build for the Exynos SOCs that are used in the Galaxy Tab S and my WiFi Pro model, as of yet anyway. Doing such large changes on their own also makes it harder to keep up with Google’s latest Android releases, so I wonder how long will it take them to upgrade to the Android “L” release.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5


The Sony XperiaZ3 Tablet

This felt like a Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 but with a far better build quality. It had a firm metallic feel, no creaky plastickyness. It also felt incredibly thin and it was easy to hold in hand. Apparent performance was snappier than in any of the Samsungs – maybe because Sony didn’t add so many poorly optimized UI tweaks as Samsung did. I’d get this if I didn’t think 10″ is my optimal screen size (having moved up from 7″.)

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact


Nokia/Microsoft Lumia 930 

Not exactly a new phone anymore either, having been announced in Spring of this year, this was the first time I got to try one anyway. Well, it’s a clear logical improvement from last year’s Lumia 920. Apparent performance has improved a lot, especially in apps like Here Maps where panning and zooming around in satellite view was really snappy.
They were handing out Nokia lanyards at the Microsoft phone exhibition in the Deutsche Telekom area, which could well be the last IFA where they will be doing this.Nokia Lumia 930


Lumia 1030 rumours

I spoke to two Microsoft employees and asked about a follow-up model to the record-breaking Lumia 1020 supercamera phone. They of course couldn’t tell me about unannounced products but went on to hint that I should wait 2 weeks and see what happens; and that “I would definitely buy it” without saying anything about the “it”…

I wonder if I would though. Upgrading Windows Phones isn’t as easy as it could be. Backup/Restore is not so great, at least if you’re used to the reliability possible on desktop operating systems. While the OS does back some things up and you can restore these things onto a newer device, not everything gets backed up. Any app that does not save it’s data in the cloud basically loses it’s data when you factory-reset your phone or upgrade to a newer model. With apps I mean games, actually.. I would hate to lose my level 24 character in Angry Birds Epic for example.


The Tesla car

The Panasonic exhibition had a gorgeous red Tesla Motors car. The car drew a lot of attention and it was nearly impossible to get a good picture of it, as the car was really crowded. The exciting thing was when they popped the car hood open to show what’s inside… turns out that nothing – it’s actually a storage compartment! As they use Panasonic-made batteries, I guess that’s why it was in the Panasonic exhibition.

Tesla Motors car


Oculus Rift

Several groups had an Oculus Rift on display. It was too hard to get to try any of these, as all of them had really long queues. Too bad, but it’s great to see the technology has a lot of appeal even though their marketing is so far very minimal – after all, it’snot a finished product yet. They are teasing at a consumer version right now though.

Earthquake simulation with Oculus Rift and shaking devices



I was a heavy user of the Garmin Forerunner 205 years ago. But the device was kind of outdated in the size, software and user interface section and the company was dragging their feet updating the product. Eventually it broke down and Garmin had no decent replacement model, so I jumped into the more limited “Nike+ powered by TomTom” device (what a name!). This year at Garmin’s stand, I saw they’ve expanded their product lines a lot, with a multitude of health, fitness and navigation products being offered. This Forerunner 220 looks like the replacement I was waiting for and with a quick try, it seemed a lot more intuitive. I hope it doesn’t still come with that outdated PC software though…Garmin Forerunner 220



Windows Phone 7.x backup files

A few days ago the USB port on my Nokia Developer gift device Lumia 800 died. I need to get another phone, and as I don’t have another phone where I could restore the backups from my dead phone, I started wondering what could I salvage from those backups that are on my hard drive?

The first order of business was to discover where the Windows Phone app for Mac actually stores the backups. I wasn’t familiar with the "Containers" stuff on Mac, so it took me a while, but now I know they can be found under the following location:

 /Users/<username>/Library/Containers/ Support/Windows Phone/Devices/<deviceid>/Backup

Armed with this info, I can now dig deeper. Already I would appreciate if someone could tell me is there any nifty way to recover data specific to an app ("Isolated Storage") ? I need to recover a save file for the Dragon’s Blade game.

Updated 7.3.2013: I soon discovered that the backups are encrypted using some Microsoft encryption method, but also found a way to wiggle the USB cable just the right way to be able to charge my phone, and so I was able to manually retrieve my data from the device. So my investigations on this front have come to an end. However, I would like to use this space to complain that after getting a Lumia 820 to replace my dead 800, I’ve found that while the cloud backup features in WP8 are very nice as such – or "als solcher" as German patent language says – there appears to be NO WAY to backup any APPLICATION DATA. App makers are expected to save any important data to the cloud, however seems that many of my favourite apps actually don’t do this. Sigh.

Running Mac OS X on a Olympus E-P2 digital camera

Yes, this was an April Fool’s story.. but, like all the good ones, this one is also possible if someone was crazy enough to do it!

I was the first to run the full-blown version of Mac OS X on a smartphone (The Nokia N900), not even Apple did it before me. But I thought, why stop there? I’ve spent the last few weeks digging into the firmware and hardware of my digital camera, the Olympus E-P2 Micro Four Thirds camera body. As you know, digital cameras these days are pretty powerful machines, with plenty of RAM and storage space (in the form of a memory card) – you can get tens of gigabytes of storage with these things. And the display resolutions are nearing the level of yesterday’s desktop computers.

Continue reading Running Mac OS X on a Olympus E-P2 digital camera

Amazon Kindle Fire first impressions

Amazon Kindle Fire from an European perspective

I’ve been interested in tablet devices for years (Maemo devices, anyone?), even before the iPad created the current tablet market. However as smartphones became increasingly more powerful and meanwhile I got myself a really light laptop (MacBook Air), even though devices like the iPad and some of the more serious competing offerings are undeniably very well implemented, amazing devices, I simply didn’t see the need for those. On the other hand, I’m almost always carrying the ultralight Amazon Kindle WiFi e-book reader with me on travels, and often it also lives inside my coat pocket.

When the Amazon Kindle Fire was announced along with a cheap price tag and a size mostly comparable with the Kindle WiFi, I wanted to find out how useful it is and how well does it really work. I also knew that content services (books, magazines, videos, music, apps) are the main selling point for the device, and being an European – Finnish, currently living in Germany – I would probably be missing out on a lot, at least initially.

In this article I’ve collected my initial experiences, and I will continue to update this as I discover more, or as the Amazon offering gets updated. 

Last Updated: 14th February 2012

Continue reading Amazon Kindle Fire first impressions

Qt Dev Days 2011, Munich

Hi all, I wrote a short piece on Qt Developer Days 2011 (Munich), you can read it on my company’s blog:

I took some pics there as well, with my new-old Olympus E-p1 digital camera. Too bad the LCD screen broke during the flight, so framing the shots was “challenging”. I managed quite well anyway, but I wasn’t able to use my über oldie manual focus Canon 50/1.2 lens for Leica Screw Mount that I was planning to use, alas. The pics are on Flickr:

Nokia N950 arrived!

The N950 "dev kit" device arrived!

I’m super-busy during the whole week, but I did manage to get some Nokia N950 unboxing photos taken, and I’ve made it my primary device right away, so I will find out all the good and the bad that there is to find soon enough. Maybe I’ll write more during the weekend, but now, on to the unboxing pictures!

(Rest of the unboxing pics on Flickr:

A couple of words on the Nokia Windows Phone strategy

On 11th of February 2011, Nokia’s new CEO Stephen Elop dropped the bombshell that Nokia is switching to Windows Phone 7 as their only smartphone software platform. There are thousands of blog posts already covering this, so I am not going to write at length. I only have one point to make, which is:

 Developers, developers, developers!

No, seriously. While I see the logic behind choosing WP7, and while I lament the minimized role of MeeGo in Nokia’s future plans, I think that they missed one very important thing altogether. One they can still fix. I am talking about a migration plan for the current Symbian developers who have been told to use Qt/QML and have been doing so. When Nokia has completed the migration to WP7, the developers who have been writing apps using Qt/QML will have to throw all their code away and start from scratch, at which point many might choose a non-Nokia platform to target next, just as well.  This is because (according to there won’t be an officially supported Qt for WP7 port.

And for Nokia WP7 devices, there will be far fewer apps available from day 0 if the Qt apps can’t be easily brought over to the new platform, thus hurting WP7 as well as Symbian device sales.

Possible solution? 

Now I am no expert on how the Microsoft .NET CLR exactly works, but with my limited understanding at least, I don’t see why a Qt/C++ application couldn’t be statically compiled into .NET code just like C# and all those other currently available languages are. A QML app would work with a 10-liner C++ loader that pulls in QtDeclarative to run the QML. So technically the idea of Qt Everywhere is just as sound as anywhere else, also this would bypass the perceived fragmentation problem as the target device wouldn’t have to have any Qt stuff pre-installed for the app to work.

This is all I had to say for now. If someone convinces me I got it all wrong, I will update this post accordingly and be glad I was wrong (for once ;)

Update1: Waiting to see what this comment from Elop’s MWC 2011 talk will mean in practical terms:  "The question is, what do we introduce into the Symbian environment to ease the transition to Windows Phone. So that’s part of the mission that we’re taking on now."

Update2: Forum Nokia’s Vice President, Purnima Kochikar, clarifies the Feb11 message in this open letter to the developer community:

While I appreciate his way of re-iterating what was said on Feb 11 (some people still didn’t get the basic points of that day, such as, no they didn’t stop making Symbian devices cold-turkey) and adding some details, I still don’t see anything concrete for developers transitioning from Qt/Symbian to WP7. Maybe the answer will be the reverse of what I was thinking at first: Silverlight for Symbian?

Steve Ballmer

I couldn’t resist putting Steve Ballmer here, sorry. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.