Words cannot express how jealous I am of Andrew Hudson-Smith’s acquisition of the Nokia N95 and his subsequent blogging of its ample GPS functions, including its ability to save tracks as KML using Nokia’s Sport Tracker applet. I left Sweden what must have been hours before the stores were flooded with this remarkable superphone, and here in Cairo I am alas relegated to drooling at Gizmodo’s photos.
One thing I cannot wait to do is to take photos with its 5 megapixel camera that are automatically georeferenced, uploading them directly to my Flickr account via GPRS or wi-fi, and then having that stream outputted automatically as GeoRSS or KML. Similar functionality is available with videos published to YouTube, though I think here we’ll need to come up with some hack for georeferencing those.
I suspect the N95 will revolutionize reporting in countries with draconian restrictions on the media. Here in Egypt, crackdowns on demonstrations are routinely accompanied by roundups of photographers, who are then obliged to hand over their digital cameras’ memory cards. Already, the Nokia N93 has been used by CNN reporters to take video in situations where a big video camera would have drawn unwelcome attention, but the N93 still looks like a small video camera. The N95 looks like an unassuming phone at all times, so you can shoot while pretending to phone, and then, critically, publish the photos to the web directly, before anyone demands your memory card.
The ubiquity of mobile phones makes it easier for reporters to meld into the crowd, especially now that everybody is always recording everything anyway. It’s a cliché to say that we’re all reporters now, but with the N95, broadcast quality video and print-quality photos can be delivered instantly to the world. In Egypt, YouTube videos of police brutality and the harassment of women have already led to high profile court cases, purely on the strength of popular outrage. If governments are going to want to reverse this trend, they are going to have to ban mobile phones, but unfortunately for them, that particular genie is well out of the bottle.