Apps I Miss on Nokia Handsets
I’ve had my Apple iPhone 3GS about a week now. While I’ve been generally happy with the experience so far, there are a few apps that don’t have quite have an analog on the iPhone, or don’t operate quite the same way. They have required a change in how I do things. Here are the top three areas outside of multitasking itself.
Aside from the lack of multitasking, which I still think is a fair trade for a much more stable phone, the single biggest change to my workflow is how Podcasting works on the iPhone. On most recent Nokia handsets, I can use the not-perfect, but serviceable, built-in Podcasting application. I can manage and download podcasts right from the phone, whether I am using WiFi, 3G, or EDGE. Granted, the experience could be a bit more integrated with the built-in Music Player, but it worked fairly well.
On the iPhone? If you want to be able to listen to podcasts and be able to listen to them in the background, you’re pretty much stuck with using iTunes on your PC or Mac. They recently added the “download more episodes” link, but that takes you to iTunes–a separate application from the iPod–and you are prevented from downloading podcasts over 3G when the MP3 file is over 10mb.
Fortunately, there’s an app for that: RSSPlayer. It is an application that allows you to search for podcasts or enter in an RSS URL. It will download podcasts right to the phone and allow you to manage the podcasts–something you can’t do with the regular iPod app. However, it maintains a separate database from that which was synced with iTunes. And, perhaps more importantly, due to the lack of multitasking, the podcasts downloaded with RSSPlayer can’t be played in the iPod, thus listening to podcasts is a foreground-only process.
Gravity is the best Twitter app on Nokia handsets, hands down. It’s so good, I bought it for 3 different handsets. Jan Ole Suhr is constantly upgrading and tweaking this application, adding new features such as the ability to post to ping.fm, forward tweets as SMS, and send information and pictures via a number of third party services. That and the app looks as good as any iPhone app out there.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of Twitter clients on the iPhone. I have used the free TweetDeck, and not-free Tweetie and Birdfeed. I have settled on Birdfeed because it handles working offline and gives me an idea of where I left off in reading my tweetstream. It also allows me to read a tweet on one of my accounts and respond to it using another.
You would think that the lack of multitasking would be a problem if I wanted to, say, read a link that was tweeted. The way Birdfeed handles this is that it opens a web browser right in the application itself, presumably using the built-in Safari engine. I can read the article and easily get back to Twitter. It’s elegant.
Right before I bought my iPhone, the folks from Audials sent me a review copy of their Audials Mobile for Nokia devices. Think of it like the service blip.fm, except you have to pay for the application (roughly 8 GBP). On the plus side, the app actually downloads the songs right to your phone for later playback, in unencrypted MP3 format.
The app does exactly what it says on the tin and is fairly easy to use. You use the app to search for the artist or genre you want. You select the songs you want, they download, you listen. I recommend using the plugin pack to find even more music.
Aside from some minor usability niggles, like you can only play one song at a time, I have found songs to be not labled correctly. For example, the Escape Song (e.g. If You Like Pina Coladas) was not by Jimmy Buffet, but Rupert Holmes. Also, you’re not always sure what version you’ll end up with. All in all, though, it’s worth the money (if I had to pay for it).
Given that this app essentially bypasses iTunes, you can be assured this app–or one like it–will never show on the App Store. One can use any number of other applications to find new music, but it’s streaming and doesn’t play in the background like it would on Nokia handsets.