Beyond the Smartphone – The bits and pieces around your Smartphone that will make the difference

Buying a Smartphone is a big decision. Your level of satisfaction with the device – how much you like it during the contract with the telecommunications provider you choose – be that Telstra, Virgin Mobile, Optus or Vodafone, depends on more than just the device hardware and software.


Around your Smartphone sits a collection of complementary services and facilities from the manufacturer. In this article, Whatphone takes a look at how Smartphones are actually used by customers and the different options which are available to help you get the most out of your investment.

Most people don’t buy a Smartphone just to make mobile phone calls. Most people have come to expect capabilities such as cameras, video and music players and a bunch of applications on their smartphones. This can create a requirement to transfer files from your PC / Mac to your Smartphone.

Each of the major device manufacturers has a suite of software which ties together to help you crack some of the real life ‘problems’ you have – like wanting to listen to music when you’re out and about or watch a film when you’re on the bus. These are components of the manufacturer’s GUI or Graphical User Interface and PC installed software. Basically, they’re useful bits of software you can use to help you do the things you want to on your device.

Android Devices : HTC and Samsung

For Samsung Smartphones, a free PC application called Kies is available ( for both Mac and PC – you can download Kies for bothhere ) to transfer music, audio, photos etc from the desktop to the Samsung Smartphone. The software will also allow you to upgrade the device operating system.

For HTC devices, there is an application, again, free to download, called HTC sync which does much the same thing. HTC Sync is a large file: Sometimes it’s a 150 MB download so make sure you have plenty of time and or a fast broadband link when you go to download it. HTC Sync is also adapted and ( apparently ) unique to each device : From the HTC site, you can find it by going to the download section for each product.

It’s possible to get hold of Android apps ( and music, films, podcasts ) for both Samsung and HTC devices ( any Android Operating System based device in fact ) through the Android Play site ( previously Android Marketplace. ) Recognising that people interact with their books, music and films across multiple devices, Android enabled devices also deliver some nicely integrated features. It’s possible to start a book on your Smartphone and continue seamlessly from your Android tablet – automatically !

Any components you download ( and have paid for ) from Google Play are backed up for you on your Google account so you will never have to buy them again.

And the Super Usable Apple Software

Apple is great – especially if you’re used to working with Apple products and you’ve invested in a Mac computer hub. However, because it’s a closed ‘ecosystem’ of proprietary components it can behave in ways some people might find unhealthy.

As part of working through the experience on the HTC, Samsung and Apple products so I could write this article, I ran in to some real problems with the iTunes software. My iPad was ‘associated’ with another laptop ( that is, Apple had linked the 2 devices in a way I didn’t know about ) I had upgraded my device to a Dell and I’d used the iPad on a different laptop.

I had to change the association, lost some music I had put on the iPad previously and, when I connected them together, the Ipad went on to transfer all my music across ( without me asking ! ) The process took a long time and since my intent was to watch a film on the ferry the next day, I gave up and loaded it on my HTC 1X.

I think most people’s experience of Apple products is very different to that and that they prefer the way the Apple software works – anticipating their requirements and making decisions for them. This was just one example where it didn’t turn out that way !

Tying these components together is not rocket science – but, truthfully, it can be a pain. It must be said that it is infinitely easier to use the Apple iTunes product to transfer files to and from your machine. Partly, this ease comes from familiarity and the fact that you’ve already, probably, got iTunes installed. In reality though, how well all of these components work together is a testament to Apple’s User Experience focus and holistic thinking.

Tying purchases of products, backup of components like pictures taken, in to iCloud adds a new dimension of safety to your activity.

In the opinion of Whatphone, if you’re reasonably technically aware, Android is great. It’s flexible in that almost any component can be personalised. Without installing any software on your PC, it’s possible to transfer music and video files to your PC just using File Manager.

However, for the average person who just doesn’t have the time to think about these separate components and piece them together, Apple is just streets ahead – as usual, defining the standard for usability.

 

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.