Contents tagged with Java
In a previous post I discussed some of the pros and cons of the new Sprint Instinct phone that I recently purchased. I’ve had the phone for a few weeks now and still like it a lot overall. It’s not nearly as flexible as the PPC-6700 phone I had previously when it comes to installing software (a lot of applications like Opera Mini won’t work due to a virtual keyboard issue that Sprint/Samsumg will hopefully fix), but it shines in many areas where my Windows Mobile phone was severely lacking such as visual voice mail, GPS navigation, flexible touch screen interface, business search (with GPS positioning), plus more.
Now that I’ve had the phone and tried out about every feature I could find I thought I’d put together a tips and tricks section for others who may have the phone. Most of these tips and tricks I found through experimentation (I like to tinker with devices) while others I discovered using Google and Live.com.
- Scrolling in the Browser – When you’re using the Instinct’s browser you can click the camera button and move the device to scroll left to right or top to bottom. It’s kind of a gimmick feature in my opinion since it doesn’t seem to work consistently, but it’s nice to know about. The second icon down on the left of the browser can also be used to quickly move to different parts of page. A lot of people complain about the browser but it’s useable for most sites. I really hope that Opera Mini 4.1 makes it onto the Instinct though.
- Using Opera Mini – Opera Mini 4.1 (one of the coolest mobile browsers out there) doesn’t currently work on the Instinct unfortunately (as of 7/9/2008)…...bummer. It loads the first time but no keyboard pops-up when user input is required and it doesn’t generally load more than once without uninstalling and reinstalling it. The lack of support for keyboard input in the Instinct for existing Java applications is a problem although rumor has it that Sprint/Samsung will release a fix for the problem in the future. Although Opera Mini 4.1 doesn’t work, Opera Mini 3.0 does work and is useful when you want to view sites. User input isn’t supported unfortunately, but you can drill down into sites and feeds provided by the browser to get to most major sites out there and then do some tricks to post your own custom bookmarks online. More details can be found here and here.
- Setting a Custom Desktop Wallpaper – When the power button for the phone is clicked a default screen comes up that explains how to unlock the phone. You can assign a custom background (such as a picture you took with the phone) to this screen by going to Main > Settings > Display > Background and select the picture you’d like. You can access custom images as well quite easily by uploading them to Myxer.com.
- Assigning a Custom Ring Tone – I mentioned this in my previous Instinct post but it’s a nice trick to know. An easy way to add a custom ring tone is to go to http://www.myxer.com and upload a music file, adjust which parts you want to be your ring tone and then download the file on your phone. Read more about making custom ring tones for the Instinct here.
- Fast Text Messages or Emails – The Instinct has handwriting recognition support built-in that even works well with my messy handwriting. When you’re composing an email or text message click the pencil icon to get to the handwriting recognition feature. It supports writing complete words rather than drawing one character at a time which is nice. I haven’t successfully used the feature with my finger, but it works well with the included stylus.
- Quickly View Emails. Text Messages or Pictures – Because the Instinct is a touch phone you can move your finger from left to right (or right to left) to move through pictures you may have on the SD card. You can use this same technique to quickly flip through emails. View an email that you’d like to read and swipe your finger from right to left on the screen to see the next email. You can do this with text messages as well.
- Deleting or Reordering Text Messages – Text messages can be deleted by highlighting them and clicking the trash icon or by holding them for a moment (until the target message changes colors) and then dragging them to the trash icon. The Instinct threads text messages and you can move messages around to change their order by using this same technique (although you wouldn’t move them to the trash icon of course!).
- Sending Voice Memos– This is one of my favorite tips for the Instinct since I like to record song ideas that I get from time to time so that I don’t forget them. I’ll admit that I didn’t figure this one out on my own but read about it here. You can send yourself a voice memo quickly and easily. To start, add yourself as a contact in the phone. I added my name, phone number and email address. Once your contact information is setup, click on the VoiceMail icon on the Main screen and click the + icon in the left corner. Select yourself (or another contact) from the contact list and then record your message. Once the message is recorded click the Send button. This sends a Windows Media file (.wma extension) to your email address if that’s what you selected or a voice mail to yourself if you selected your phone number. You can use this to send voice recordings to other contacts as well and they can open the wma email attachment on Windows to hear it. If you send it to a contact’s phone number they’ll receive a text message with a phone number they can call to retrieve the message. On a related note, there’s a free service out there called Jott that converts voice messages into text/emails. Nothing specific to the Instinct but kind of cool when you don’t want to forget something and would like to get an email about it later.
- Streaming Custom TV and Audio – The Instinct has built-in support for TV and radio stations but sometimes it’s nice to get to your own music files or TV stations. I mentioned this in the earlier post, but the Instinct works great with orb.com. If you haven’t heard of Orb, it’s a free software program you install on your home computer to allow your phone (and other computers and devices) to access your computer’s audio files and even TV stations (if TV is enabled on the PC). Check out Orb.com for more details. Once you have Orb setup on your home PC, navigate to the Orb.com site on your phone, login and go to the Settings page. Change the Stream format to 3GP Format (.sdp) to get audio and TV streaming properly on your Instinct phone.
- Upload Photos to PhotoBucket – The Instinct’s camera works pretty well when there’s good lighting available and sooner or later you’ll want to upload pictures you take. To upload pictures easily go to the Fun tab (on the home screen) and click the Tap to Add icon located in the bottom right-hand corner. You’ll see a few entries including PhotoBucket (a site similar to Flickr). Click it to add the PhotoBucket upload service to your Fun screen. Go to your PC and create a PhotoBucket account by browsing to http://www.photobucket.com and then click the PhotoBucket icon on the Fun tab, supply your login information and start uploading pictures. You can also upload pictures to Facebook or Sprint’s photo service.
- Finding Directions with GPS – This tip is more obvious, but if you haven’t seen it before it’s definitely useful. When you go to the Instinct’s Navigation screen you can click on Drive To followed by Address to enter the destination address. What if you don’t know the address though? On the bottom of the screen you’ll see Intersection and City tabs which are useful when you simply need to get to a specific area rather than a specific address.
- Changing the Size of Email Messages – You can change the amount of text shown in email messages by going to Main > Email and navigating to the Email Homepage. Once there (and this assumes you already have an email account setup), click the Message/Gears icon to the right of the the desired email account to get to the email settings. Click the Settings button at the bottom of the screen and then choose how much text you want to download. I set mine to 3K of text. I got annoyed by the ring tone that was played each time an email arrived so I also set the Tell me I have mail setting to Off.
- Turning Off the Ringer – It’s surprising how bad phone etiquette can be in business meetings, movies, etc. I always try to remember (although I’ll admit I forget sometimes) to turn off my phone’s ringer where appropriate to avoid interrupting people since it’s the courteous thing to do. You can go to Main > Settings > Volume & Vibration to turn down your ringer volume or go to Main > Settings > General to turn on airplane mode (which disables voice and data communications entirely). However, the easiest way to do this is to click the down volume button (left side of the phone) several times. As you do it you’ll see that you can switch to vibrate mode, no ringer, etc. Click the up volume button several times to return the ringer back to normal.
That’s it for now. There are a lot more tips and tricks I’ve come across while using the phone which I’ll try to post in the future. If you’re an Instinct owner and have some tips/tricks you’d like to share please add a comment below.
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There’s been a lot of hype over Apple’s new iPhone 3G coming out on July 11th as well as Sprint’s recently released Instinct phone. I was originally going to switch over to AT&T and get the iPhone but it meant switching my wife over as well since we need to be able to call each other without using plan minutes. After evaluating the cost of switching carriers we decided it wasn’t worth it since we’d have to pay $400 to get out of our Sprint contracts and my wife recently bought the PPC-6800 Windows Mobile phone which wasn’t cheap. We’ve been very happy with Sprint’s network in our area as well.
Before getting the Instinct I had a PPC-6700 so I had to choose between going away from a Windows Mobile phone to a totally different type of touch screen phone that wasn’t based on Windows. With a Windows Mobile phone you have full control over just about anything you want which is nice if you’re a power user. But, the flexibility does come at a price. I also had the problem of not being able to answer calls on occasion, having to reboot almost daily, poor battery life, plus a few others. Truth be told, I really liked my Windows Mobile phone overall and would buy another one. But, after thinking things through more I came to the conclusion that I mainly used my PPC-6700 for calls, text messaging and the Web and that all of the other bells and whistles were rarely used. I decided to give the Instinct a try since I really liked the touch screen when I tried out the demo version at the Sprint store and liked some of the features it had such as built-in GPS and streaming TV/radio support.
Here’s what I really like about the Sprint Instinct:
- Visual Voice Mail – I’ve always hated skipping through message after message to get to the one I wanted to listen to. Visual voice mail lets me see my messages just like emails, rewind and fast-forward messages just by sliding my finger on the screen, and deleting messages that I know I don’t need to listen to quickly and easily.
- GPS Navigation – The Instinct has great GPS navigation capabilities. 2-D and 3-D views are available, voice navigation (which includes announcing street names), directions, etc.
- Nice Form Factor – The Instinct fits into my hands much better than the PPC-6700 I had before and is really light…yet feels solid. I suspect those with a Motorola Q or similar models won’t notice that much of a difference, but coming from a “brick” it’s really nice.
- Great Touch Screen – The touch screen on the Instinct is really, really nice. It’s much better than I was expecting and provides “haptic” feedback. Basically you get a little vibration each time you click something successfully on the screen. Very nice!
- Fast Download Speeds – From what I’ve heard, Sprint’s EV-DO Rev A network hasn’t officially been turned on yet (last I heard that would happen in July sometime) but the download speeds have been really good. Good enough that I can stream music or TV from home using Orb quite easily (if you’re going to use Orb with Instinct check out this post).
- POP/IMAP Email Access – Some of the early reviews I saw said that you could only integrate with Web-based email accounts like Hotmail or GMail. That’s not true at all. I’m able to successfully access POP or IMAP email accounts easily and get nice notifications when an email arrives.
- Speech to Action – Need to find a gas station or restaurant that’s close to where you are? Want to call or text someone? The Instinct has integrated “speech to action” features that integrate with Live Search, the phone, text messaging, etc. Say the business name you want and instantly get access to directions, maps, etc. (assuming it can find the place of course). The voice recognition doesn’t require training and has worked well for me so far. It can be trained for additional accuracy too through the settings dialog.
- Traffic – I carpool to downtown Phoenix now so I’m not as worried about traffic as I used to be, but the Instinct’s GPS features also allow traffic information to be viewed including accidents, average freeway speeds, etc. Haven’t used that feature a ton but did try it out twice and it seemed fairly accurate.
- Fast Access to News/Sports/Weather – The Instinct provides nice news and weather viewers to get information about all kinds of things. Radar maps are also available for the weather.
- Solid Bluetooth Support – My PPC-6700 had Bluetooth support but I had to turn it off and on each time I got in my truck so that it would properly sync. The Instinct’s Bluetooth support is much, much better. It syncs perfectly every time with my system and can also be used with stereo Bluetooth headphones (which I don’t have…so I don’t know how well that feature works).
- TV/Radio - I don’t watch TV much, but the Instinct makes it easy to watch a wide variety of TV shows on the device and provides many radio stations as well. The quality of the streamed music has been great even while driving. I listened to a station while driving for about 30 minutes last night with only a few hiccups. As mentioned earlier, I use Orb to stream TV or music from my home PC to my Instinct as well…I highly recommend Orb. All of this should get even better once the EV-DO Rev A network hits the airwaves.
- Java Based – Because the Instinct uses Java behind the scenes a lot of custom apps and games can be run on it. There are precious few applications out there right now for the Instinct (although I have found some games that work fine). Sprint is running a developer contest so I suspect we’ll see a flood of apps coming out soon. I’m a Microsoft .NET developer but since there are a ton of mobile Java applications out there I’m guessing many will be ported to the Instinct. Time to brush up on my Java some.
- SD Card – Music and other items can be stored on an SD card (up to 8gig).
- Battery Life – For people that don’t have Windows Mobile phones this probably won’t be a big deal. My PPC-6700 had horrible battery life though so it’s nice to have a phone that lasts a long time even when watching TV or streaming music.
Here’s what I don’t love about the phone:
- Internet Browser – The Internet browser built-into the Instinct works fine for many sites and provides a way to zoom in and out and easily scroll down to different parts of a site. However, it’s nothing compared to the Opera Mini browser. Unfortunately, the Opera Mini browser doesn’t currently work on the Instinct. I suspect it will in the future given all of the interest in the device but we’ll have to wait and see. The built-in browser can only be viewed in landscape mode which is annoying at times as well.
- Load Issue (minor issue) – The phone normally boots up really fast when I turn it all the way off. However, there have been 2 times where the load screen sat there for 5+ minutes. After some time it loads fine, but it’s annoying when it has the temporary hang.
- Ring tones – I always use custom MP3 ring tones and although the Instinct includes some nice ones, there’s no built-in way to add your own custom ring tones. However, you can go to http://www.myxer.com and take care of that quite easily. Myxer provides a simple way to upload a music file (or wallpaper), adjust which parts you want to be your ring tone and then download it on your phone. Read more about making custom ring tones here.
- No Voice Recording – I like to write and record music in my spare time and frequently used a program on my PPC-6700 to record song ideas I had so that I didn’t forget them. I haven’t found a way to do voice recording on the Instinct yet although it certainly has the technology in place. Time to write an application that can do that I guess.
- TV/Radio Doesn’t Stream Sometimes – I mentioned earlier that I really like the TV and radio support built-into the Instinct. On a few occasions I would try to watch a TV show or stream a radio station and get nothing. I suspect it was a network issue at the time or something along those lines. The TV/radio features seem to work great overall though.
- No Themes/Skins – The Instinct only comes with 1 theme which can’t be changed at this point. I’m surprised they didn’t offer several themes/skins. If someone wants a more iPhone looking interface then that should certainly be possible (I do like the overall interface of the iPhone much better….seems cleaner). I’m hoping that Sprint or a 3rd party company will release different themes that can be used on the phone.
I have 30 days to try out the Instinct and if I don’t end up liking it I’ll turn it in for a PPC-6800. However, at this point I’m really happy with it and although there are a few annoyances (what product doesn’t have them though?) I’m planning on keeping it at this point. For a first version device they did an amazing job and I think Sprint has a winner on their hands. It’s no iPhone killer in my opinion having played with some friends’ iPhones in the past, but once they make a better browser available it’ll definitely blur the lines between the two devices.
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