In my blog post about my bike ride up Mt Fuji Subaru line I mentioned the Minoura iH-100-S phone holder that I use with my Google Nexus S Android smartphone, which I use for Google Maps and the iMapMyRide application to track my cycling routes.
In the local bike shop I was was considering either the Minoura or the Topeak Phone Drybag, which is designed specifically for the iPhone, but also is big enough to hold the Nexus S. It offers rain protection, while with the Minoura iH-100-S the phone is exposed.
I didn’t go for the Topeak because it looked too iPhone-specific: The transparent cover extends to the home button in the bottom centre, but my Nexus S has four buttons side by side (Back, Menu, Search, Home), which would have been obscured.
My solution for rain is simple: If it looks rainy, I’ll wrap the phone in cellophane (for kitchen use, the local leading brand in Japan is Saran Wrap), which does the job. I also keep a small transparent plastic in my backpack, for emergencies.
The Minoura works well and grips the phone firmly if used properly. Make sure the phone firmly touches all three support points: the clamps on the left and right and the corner hook. I have yet to lose it, but the fact that the two clamps at the left and right snap apart if the release lever is pulled did make me a bit nervous. I always visualized this happening unintentionally, say if the release mechanism wears out or becomes brittle with UV exposure and breaks one day.
My peace of mind solution for that is a small rubber band which I keep attached to the holder. I twist it around once to give it more tension and then wrap it around the two clamps, which keep it away from the touchscreen, but it provides enough friction and tension that even when I pull the release lever there’s no way the phone would fly away.
Auto Unlock application
Another issue with using the phone for navigation was the Android screen lock. When the screen blanks due to inactivity, I need to push the power button to turn the screen back on, which is fine, but then I also need to slide a dot across the screen to unlock the desktop. If find that too distracting, because I prefer to keep my eyes on the road as much as possible. I found an application in the Android market called “Auto Unlock”, which does away with the need for the sliding move – most of the time. The trial version can be used for 5 days for free. The paid version is $1.29.
The results with Auto Unlock were a bit uneven. The application needs to be manually restarted after the phone is powered down, a minor problem. When it’s active, sometimes I still needed the slide, other times I didn’t. I’m not sure what made the difference. It’s very helpful as long as it works.
After the trial edition of “Auto Unlock” expired I switched to another app called “No Lock”. I am happy to say that No Lock works more reliably, though it has one minor drawback: unlike Auto Unlock it does not use the proximity sensor to still require an unlock swipe if it’s in your pocket. If you accidentally push the power button while the mobile is in your pocket, that may unlock it already. “Pocket-dialling” of calls is a possibility. For my use with the bicycle holder that is not a problem and it’s easy to switch between “No Lock” and “Lock” mode in the app.