Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 review: A whole new galaxy
Applications and stuff
The Daily Briefing hub is a compilation of several applications – it gives you one-click access to the weather in several cities, news for several countries and categories (including international) and stock quotes.
Like the Bing website, there are new photos every day to serve as background, but WP7 has one extra – three squares on the photo, which give you three interesting facts about what’s in the picture. The copyright sign in the bottom right also reveals the location of the photo (e.g. “Waterfall on the Arroyo del Salto River”).
It’s not useful per se, but it’s a nice “Did you know...?” type of feature for the curious-minded.
Much like any other Windows Phone 7, Samsung Omnia 7 has extensive voice recognition capabilities – you just press and hold the Windows key and say your command. You can do things like “Call Sarah at work”, “Open calendar” and even “What can I say?” if you’re not sure what commands you can do. It wasn’t very good at recognizing our commands though, hopefully it will improve with time.
SkyDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage service and they offer 25GB of free storage (individual files must be 50MB max). You can integrate it with desktop Windows Explorer and it has some integration with Windows Phone 7.
Right now, you can upload photos including auto uploading of all pictures you snap with the camera. A nice option to have is whether or not to keep the geo-tagged data when uploading a photo online – this works for SkyDrive and other services.
Bing Maps for getting from A to B without a hassle
The Samsung Omnia 7 comes with a built in GPS receiver and it was fast to acquire a lock and kept a strong reception. A-GPS is available and it speeds things up, but there’s no way to turn it off (it requires some data connection to do its magic).
Bing Maps for mobile is the in-house application that Microsoft has prepared for use on their Windows Phone 7 smartphones. You can view either the regular map or switch to aerial view, which brings up the satellite imagery. Unfortunately, the cool Bird’s eye view isn’t available.
Interestingly, when you zoom in down to street level, Bing maps automatically switches to satellite imagery, as well.
The three softkeys available are for directions, my location and search (again, why a software key when there’s a perfectly good hardware one?).
The extended menu has options to clear the map of any markers you’ve placed, toggling aerial view and accessing the settings.
Browsing the map is easy and relatively fast. Zooming is done by pinching and for a bit of eye candy, when new tiles are loaded they fade in smoothly instead of just popping. Overall the effect is looks much smoother than on Google Maps for Mobile.
A press and hold places the marker on a specific location – tap the marker and you get About (a map screenshot and the address, which you can send over a message or email) and Nearby, which shows nearby POI with a rating and basic info (like a phone and a web site).
You also get Directions from my location button, which will find step by step instructions to get you to your destination by either driving or walking.
Now for what’s missing – there’s no Navigate from here option, which can be quite useful. For example, you’re going to the theater, but want to check how far away the restaurant you’re going to afterwards is from the theater.
You can still do that, but you can’t pick it from the map – you have to use the search to find that location. Another thing – you can’t add more than one destination when planning the route (Google Maps can’t do that either though).
Unfortunately, there was no trace of voice guided navigation either, even though Windows Mobile 6.x can do it. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before Microsoft implements it for all regions since the official demo videos by Microsoft show that SatNav is available in the USA.