Monday, May 14, 2012

More Observations on My Samsung Smartie

What am I learning as I become acquainted with my Samsung Focus Flash (SFF)? I mentioned in my personal blog that people hunched over their phones as they walk to and from the train remind me to keep my head up. I understand now the obsession with the object in their hands! I found myself crossing Wacker Drive checking on the progress of a download and realized this was totally unsafe behavior. I can wait.


I am happy I bought the hard case and screen protector for my phone. The matte look on screen and case is pleasing. Sooner or later I'm going to drop the damn thing, so maybe it will survive! I can remember dropping my Flight into my bike's handlebar bag and the screen rubbed against the mini tire pump. Those scratches on the screen were there for the two-plus years I had the thing.

So, obviously with great power comes more elaborate maintenance duties. The merging of my Facebook and Gmail with my old phone's data has made my "contact list" complicated, although the ability to get a screen of alphabetized tiles to maneuver all my contacts is nice. I can also create groups to make the navigation personalized. All good. The built-in calendar is terrific, a major improvement over the pathetic thing I found on my Samsung Flight. I am not well-organized to begin with, so the better the app, the more likely I am to use it and get myself organized. There may be even better apps out there, but for now, I am quite content.

The tiles concept of the Window phone UI is pretty good. I can scan it with a thumb flick up and down or swipe to the left and bring up a column of smaller icons with a long (and growing) list of apps. I would like to say I used the phone to Google what the best free apps for the Windows Phone are, but I did not. The list makes sense though: Adobe Reader, ESPN Score Center, Facebook, Flixster, IMDb, Shazam, SkyMap Free, Spotify, and YouTube. I really don't want to get loaded up with games but I like Mah Jong and am testing several freebies. I am also testing several radio apps: and Slacker Radio as well as the built-in AT&T Radio, accessing Pandora via the IE app.

Shazam is the app that lets you tag music off of the radio or other sources. SkyMap lets you aim your phone at the sky and get a starmap of what is out there. ESPN can be programed to provide scores and news about my particular sports interests. Between Flixter and IMDb, I should be able to sate my movie interests--the former also knows my favorite theaters so I can quickly check showtimes. While Facebook messages run nicely from a tile on the opening page of the phone, the app puts it into the familiar blue-and-white trim format with photos. The YouTube app enhances immediate access to my favorites and other features if I used them.

Spotify would be perfect but it's $10/mo. and will very likely push my data loading perilously if I am not careful.

Photostudio works in conjunction with the camera for setting up modes of shooting: portrait,  panorama, etc. Then it has an editing mode and a sending mode, letting you preset Facebook and photosharing sites. I believe it came with the phone and looks intriguing. Obviously, the camera is great and has been very easy to send photos to FB and contacts.

I like the idea of starting my day with a spiritual focus. I already subscribe to Richard Rohr's Meditations, so I can check my email and open it to a Web page to read it. It's great being able to pinch the screen to enlarge it to fit. I also downloaded a Mars Hill Church app and can view video sermons and other devotional type material. A Daily Devotions app provides a menu for Christian, This is Today, Our Daily Bread, Worthy Devotion, and Photos. To complete, for now, the spiritual tools, I have a free NIV Bible app. (It is just the New Testament, so does that mean I have to pay for the Old Testament?)

I had bought a few ringtones for the previous phone with the understanding that I'd be able to transfer them to a new phone. I was mislead as far as I can tell since I have not been able to unlock them, nor find any history of purchase on the AT&T account by which to get them redelivered. Therefore, I will buy no more tones from AT&T. I was only able to recover "Layla," which I assign to my older son's number. I really loved hearing U2's "It's a Beautiful Day" when my old phone rang. I don't like being interrupted by the phone but that tone reminded me, yes, it's a beautiful day, behave yourself! I'll get over not having it.

Myxer has done alright in terms of getting free ringtones. Since I named my phone Sgt. Pepper, I have as my general ringtone, the song of the same name. It may or may not be The Beatles, but it's a very good imitation, if not. I have still to find the best ones for family friends but I am in no rush now that I have covered my essentials. I had downloaded an app that claimed to provide Myxer tones as well as others but the interface was not worth the time to learn compared to the ease of Myxer. SkyMusic also has downloads for ringtones, but the "Beautiful Day" clip leads up to the chorus when it really ought to start with it.

I have plugged into my laptop and synced accounts with Zune and Windows Live. The AT&T site says the SFF comes with 7.5 but according to Zune I have 7.1 and cannot update it further. That's too bad but also, being my first smartphone, not worth $300 or whatever the Nokia 900 costs. (Interestingly, I just took a survey from AT&T about my purchase and it segued from my satisfaction with sales and service into questions about the Nokia, asking if I could do it over would I pay $99 for it in trade.) I would be curious to see how the metro IE interface works, but the price point was too high.

While I was at a guitar workshop, I downloaded a nifty metronome app (Klick!) and a guitar tuner app (Accurate Tuner Free). I have a tuner/metronome device in my guitar case but the apps were free and I can imagine scenarios where the phone might be all I have at hand.

It does sound like the least little rationale sends me off to the App store, so I guess the world of smartphones has sucked me in most thoroughly. So far, however, the free stuff looks sufficient to my perceived needs.

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