Sunday, July 01, 2012

Back to Smart Phone Wish Lists

A recent news story suggesting that RIM should make Android phones with physical keyboards reminded me of one element of my smart phone wish list that has not yet been filled. I would like a phone with a list of desirable characteristics currently available—4g, big screen, Android—plus a physical keyboard.

And not just any physical keyboard. The old Psion PDA's had physical keyboards so good I could touch type on them, using thumb and three fingers of each hand. Comparing my Psion Revo to my current Samsung smart phone, the Revo is larger, but not much larger—still small enough to fit comfortably in a shirt pocket. Reducing width and length might squeeze the keyboard too much, but given the technological progress in making miniature computers over the past fifteen years I expect it could be made thinner, and the extra height and width would permit a screen bigger than my Samsung's 4.3", which would also be nice. 

And while I'm wishing ... . I'm a Verizon customer, which means that my current phone won't work in most foreign countries. That isn't a big problem—on a recent trip abroad I carried my old T-Mobile G1, the first Android phone, and bought a sim card for it in Prague for fifteen dollars or so that provided a 3g internet connection, which I mostly wanted so that I could use the gps. But still, it would be nice, when I got my ideal phone, if it was a world phone. 

And speaking of gps ... . Does anyone have software that would let me download the map for some area I planned to be in, say Prague, to memory—I have lots of free memory in my current phone—so that I could use the gps without requiring an internet connection?


At 9:45 AM, July 01, 2012, Blogger Dustin said...

The latest version of Google Maps supports offline caching.

Here's an article talking about it.

At 10:42 AM, July 01, 2012, Blogger andrew said...

Dustin is correct - the new version of Google Maps should be exactly what you've been looking for.

At 11:42 AM, July 01, 2012, Blogger David Friedman said...

The article Dustin links to says:

"though it remains impossible to use navigation offline, limiting the practical applications of this feature."

I'll have to try it and see exactly what the limitation is.

At 11:52 AM, July 01, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sygic and IGO works without internet connection, but they are not free, unless you don't believe in IP and use Google :)

At 12:14 PM, July 01, 2012, Blogger sconzey said...

My wife and I used oMap (for iPhone) extensively in Hungary. It downloads the open street map tiles for the area. The geocaching app also supports offline saving of map data.

At 3:57 AM, July 02, 2012, Anonymous Simon said...

Do check the Google Maps feature. It is (or was) among the experimental features, so you may have to go to the preferences and activate it.

Some friends and I used it during a trip in Italy; this way I always had the map with our current GPS location. Other things (e.g., 'my maps', driving directions) had to be printed out in advance.

At 5:23 AM, July 02, 2012, Blogger marevalo said...

You can try OSMAnd, it's open source and uses Open Street Map data and if you install it with FDroid you will have (beta) offline navigation.

At 10:02 AM, July 02, 2012, Blogger Glen Whitman said...

I wanted an Android with a physical keyboard, and I found one: Motorola's Droid 2. However, it was so buggy it drove me mad. Two years later, I gave in and got an iPhone.

At 5:28 AM, July 19, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HTC Evo Shift 4G might be the phone you're looking for.

At 1:06 PM, July 20, 2012, Blogger David Friedman said...

The Evo Shift 4G sounds closer to what I want than anything else I've seen, but it has one problem. It's on Sprint and I'm on Verizon. They both use LTE, but I do not believe the phones of one work on the other.

At 5:38 AM, August 01, 2012, Anonymous Mark Harrison said...

The GPS on the iphone works all the time and dosn't require an internet connection (I used it with my SIM card turned off whiule overseas).

The free 'Maps with me' app allows you to download maps which stay on your phone and work with the GPS. The Pro version (about $10) allows you to search for supoermarkets, gas stations, ATMs, etc. But it doesn'y give directions, but you do have a map in your pocket and current location. The maps are very detailed.

the Hema app allows your download an atlas type map to your iphone which you can use with your GPS. It was also about $10. you can search for locations, buts it doesn't give a route or distance. It can also track your movements

At 6:49 AM, August 12, 2012, Blogger Russ Nelson said...

OSMAnd uses OpenStreetMaps data to give you compact vector maps. The data is usually excellent in Europe, somewhat less so in America, although NY data is also excellent (because I've put forth the effort to make it so).

And you get offline routing.


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