Do almost everything with your smartphone (Final Part)

Recap:  I am trying to do almost all my work with my phone and I am slowly getting there. This is the fifth and final part with my comments about this process.

Entertainment
What’s entertainment? Entertainment means something different to everyone. This is why I would probably get the least agreement from you on this section. In very broad terms, we could agree that as long as you can take your entertainment with you, you should consider this section covered. That sounds about right, but it makes for too short and not too informative writing… so I’d rather have you disagree than give you the short story. What I’ll try to do is say how I can mobilize my entertainment so that you can make the most out of it in your own way.

This section will cover how or what tools to use to enjoy the most out of your music, eBooks, video and gaming in your smartphone. While at some point, all these items could only be enjoyed separately on their own dedicated devices, it is about time that they had all converged into entertainment units that can handle most if not all of them. People that come from using PDAs are used to having some form of convergence prior to our status quo. PDAs have supported playing audio and video since 1998 to say the least, eBooks have been available for reading in PDAs since about that time as well… and gaming is no stranger to PDAs although the graphics engines and processing have gotten extremely efficient if we compare them to what they were over a decade ago. Lets also agree that as long as you can browse the web, you can at the very least, read and play online if nothing else, giving you a little bit of entertainment.

Audio/Music
Like I said, playing music in digital form has been around for a long  MediaPlayerWM61 time. Windows CE was able to do it back in the 1990s. Storage was very expensive at that time, especially flash memory, that was just being successfully commercialized. Now memory is cheap and you can either get your music stored locally or you can simply stream music to your smartphone with just as good quality as you would on a regular digital player. You don’t need to have large amounts of storage if you are assured to have a good constant connection. If you prefer to keep music with you, storage is cheap enough that you can carry your whole music collection with you. In the past I never owned an MP3 player, not because I don’t enjoy music, but simply because I always had a PDA… so when I made the transition between PDA + cell phone to a smartphone, playing music on it was already assumed and a matter of deciding how I wanted to sync music between the smartphone and my PC. If you never had a PDA, but you had a cell phone and a digital music player; by now you also realized of this convergence and simply moved to playing from your smartphone or streaming if you enjoy a great connection. Why carry another device when you can do just as well on your smartphone with no additional work? Now, because I use a Windows Phone I am used to Windows Media Player… I know that there are people that cannot stand it, but there are other tools out there and you can listen to the same formats you would on any other device or desktop no matter what obscure platform you choose.

eBook Reading
I read a lot of eBooks. Would you be surprised if I told you that I’ve eReaderBookshelf never owned an eBook reader device? eBooks and the eBook reader market are a very hot topic right now. But if you always carry a smartphone why would you carry another device to do the reading which can also double as yet another music player? This is just nonsense to me… you’ve already spent some decent amount of money in your smartphone which can help you read eBooks for free (plus the price of each eBook obviously). Well, some people will obviously highlight the outdoors readability of such devices. I am not convinced that I would spend more than $250 for an eBook reader just to be able to read outdoors. I am also OK  with reading from a small 3 or 3.5 inch screen, so font size is not an issue for me. I am currently using the eReader software from eReader.com that supports multiple platforms, it is owned by Barnes & Noble and is an evolution of the original eBook formats used in Palm devices in the early 2000s (download the freeeReaderBook reader [here]). The greatest thing about this eBook reader is that I still carry my whole eBook collection that I started while I had a Palm PDA, their eBooks are compatible even with the Nook from Barnes & Noble and while I will most likely not buy any reader device I am just grateful that they are continuing to support other devices in order to grow their customer base. If Amazon had their Kindle reader software out for my smartphone, I would definitely have it installed so that I would just compare prices and get the book I want from the most convenient source (being B&N and Amazon the largest sources for commercial eBooks). Storage being cheap, like I said before, I really don’t care carrying around more eBooks… after all it’s not like I will have a heavier smartphone for that.

Video
I have converted and streamed full movies on my device before, I really do not need a portable video player for doing this… on the other hand I really don’t use my smartphone for all that much video viewing. I watch the occasional movie preview on the Skyfire browser when I want to. Again, Windows Media Player does the job for me SlingPlayerMobile1 with the occasional help from Skyfire . The one client I would like to have in the future is the Sling Player; simply because I would be able to not find anything to watch while I am out of the house the same as when I am in the house. All joking aside, I think that the only tool I am missing out on for my video mobile experience I the Sling player mobile (and of course the Slingbox device for home). The idea of place shifting is very interesting to me, more as a curiosity than anythSlingPlayerMobile2 ing else, but not life changing… as I would probably not watch all that much more TV than I already do. DVRs already let me watch TV in my schedule… so I am wondering how much more convenient would it be to place shift as opposed to time shift. This is obviously not a device that is high on my list or that I would plan to use all the time, so it normally gets relegated when budgeting for my next gadget purchase. You can find more information about the Slingbox and Sling player mobile at the Slingmedia website [here].

Gaming
From the old Nintendo LCD games from the 1980s until now, there’s LeoFSWM1 been so many changes that it would be impossible to list them all here. One thing that I can say for sure is that mobile gaming is still a strong force of change for electronics. However, most of the gaming you can do on standalone devices you can actually do also on a smartphone with better and higher resolution screens. Mobile LeoFSWM2 gaming on your smartphone is no longer a matter of what board-game or simple graphics to purchase, but a matter of 3D engines and custom  polygon rendering techniques that allow you to play games as visually complex as the current generation of game NeedForSpeedUndercoverconsoles, only on a 3 inch screen. I will leave this section left for you to fill in the blanks and choose that games you like… whether that is action games, board games, short games or any other. There is definitely a game out there to entertain you on your spare time.

Conclusion
In my opinion, moments of inspiration and sudden realizations do not happen while we are in an extremely structured environment. We may have great ideas while at the office, but those really genius ideas may come whenever and wherever. This is why I keep my mobile tools around. A great idea for an application, a great line of code to fix that bug that’s been bothering you, an awesomely performing query to minimize wait time, writing some article or any other article for that matter… these are things that can happen anywhere anytime. Why tie yourself to a desk or even a hotspot? Having the right tools for facilitating these tasks makes a huge difference. The mind can wander, but when that old trusty light bulb lights up, I am ready for documenting the event.

How about you? Is there anything you have found doing on your phone makes just as much sense as doing on your PC? Post your comments and opinions here.

About Diego Samuilov

Editor in Chief/Founder Diego Samuilov is an executive, consultant, IT strategist and book, e-book and web published author. Diego has worked in Microsoft’s environments since 1990. Since then, he has successfully filled many positions related to the Software Development lifecycle. Having worked as a developer, analyst, technical lead, project lead, auditor and, since 1996 a project manager, manager, director and VP in the Software Development, Server, Desktop and Mobile environments. Diego is very passionate about the software development process, which has played a great part in his skills development. Since the introduction of the first ever PDA (the Apple Newton MessagePad) in 1994 and Windows CE in 1998 he has pioneered and pushed the envelope in the field of mobile software development. He has developed many solutions used in mobile markets, desktop and server environments. He participates in public and private developer community events. He actively collaborates with the community at support forums and blogs. Diego is the author of "Windows Phone for Everyone" available [HERE].