Going mobile: Day1: it’s all in the detail

So I’ve just about completed my first day of my mobile-only life, and I didn’t resort to tablet, laptop or desktop all day. If I was going to crack, I figured this day, working from home, would be the one where it would happen.

Very early on I realised that using my phone with a keyboard had one big User Experience issue – on it’s makeshift little used-to-be-a-credit card stand, it would fall over if I touched the screen. A quick search, and I realised that the USB On the Go adapter that I bought ages ago to try to connect a hard drive to my Nexus 7 (unsuccessfully) would enable me to connect a wireless USB mouse. Using a phone with external keyboard and mouse changes the game. Suddenly it becomes really useable in a completely new way. Who knew you could get a mouse cursor in Android? I certainly didn’t.

Given that this is my only home-office day this week I thought I’d go for broke and also connect the phone up to an external monitor. My actual computer monitor doesn’t have an HDMI socket, but we’ve got an old LG TV that does, so I plugged that in. Two problems – first of all I could use both the mouse and the screen at the same time, but also that I couldn’t get the full resolution screen to display on the somewhat aged LG. The resolution is too high on the phone.

Giving that up as a bad job I cracked on with using the phone with mouse and keyboard. One final tweak was required… I had the phone in landscape mode, but the standard Android launcher app for mobiles only works in portrait. Using it was horrible (try turning your PC monitor 90 degrees and then try to point your mouse at anything and you’ll see what I mean).

A quick search, and the installation of the Nova launcher app, and that was all sorted. On with work…

So what have I been up to? Well, the usual sort of stuff really. Email, calendaring, blog writing, general web use is all great. As productive as using a laptop, really.

The only pain has been realising that little niggles of missing functionality in App versions of services become a complete pain when you’re not “putting up with it” because of the convenience of being on a train or whatever. Case in point – the inability to tailor the social media update that is pumped out of the WordPress app in comparison the the web version. Case in point – a stack of functionality in the LinkedIn app (including all of the new publishing functionality) which just doesn’t exist within the mobile version.

Nevertheless, you can still get to the full browser versions, and with a mouse (and the remarkable resolution of the phone’s screen) all is much more usable than with podgy fingers. This does though highlight the lack of option to set “Request the full version” as a default in the Chrome browser on Android, and more interestingly the pain in the backside Responsive Designed websites are if you want the full desktop version on a phone. I’ve argued for a while now that Responsive Design is a solution to designer and developer needs, not necessarily to those of the end consumer.

There are a few apps that don’t have Landscape mode (EasyJet for example), but that’s workable around.

After some general admin work this morning, I got into the meat of the day, doing some planning for particular project I’ve got on the go. Here, interestingly, I went back to paper. A big A3 art pad that I’ve not looked at in months.

Now you might see that as a retrograde step, a wierd way for me to go given this somewhat techie experiment – but I found it really liberating. I love working with pen, pencil and big bits of nice paper. I’m not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I find using something with a tactility about it helps me think, and helps me to explore ideas more effectively. Having a laptop around, it’s tempting to fart about trying out fonts and stock images in a presentation template.

At the end of the paper and pen work, I was able to “scan” them using Google Drive, write some of them up into a word processing doc, and then fire those off to the person I’m collaborating with.

Tomorrow is a day of meetings around town. I’m taking the pad, the paper, the phone and the keyboard. At some point I’ll pick up a cheap Bluetooth mouse as the USB adapter that I have at the moment has one minor, yet fatal, flaw – you can’t charge the phone at the same time as using it. The other thing I need to get a hold of at some point is a long USB cable to charge. I’ve suddenly realised (whilst trying to plug it in earler) that all the ones I’ve got are a little bit too short to reach from socket to a desk surface…

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