Nokia release Ovi Maps 3.06 updated beta

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Another update to the v3.06 Ovi Maps beta has been released by Nokia Beta Labs, and although it features a few new features, the key one must be that it’s now (finally) possible to download whole countries directly on your phone (although you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection).  However, this isn’t perfect, when I tried it, it kept given a “Map download failed” error after about 187Mb through the 216Mb UK download, which resulted in me having to use the PC after all.  When you first install the v3.06 beta, it will wipe your existing maps, as it needs a v3.06+ specific map data downloaded.  Once you have done this one though, subsequent betas (and hopefully the final released version) will be able to use the maps already downloaded.

Having the facility to download directly on the phone, plus having a “check for map updates” option on the phone itself is very useful, and a good move (and something a lot of people have been asking Nokia for).

The other features of this beta include:

  • New! Download street maps directly to your device! A new feature called “Update” on the main menu which allows you download Street Maps directly (via WiFi) to your phone without a PC! Please note that phones without WiFi (e.g. Nokia 5230) will not work.
  • New! My Position and Search are now integrated (now called Map). When accessed, it will show your last map view
  • New! Back button in Favourites
  • New! Long tap functionality to delete & rename collections & routes
  • New! Pop up for first time use – to inform user to download new map data (when upgrading 3.04 > 3.06 for the first time)
  • New! Improved behaviours of transit lines settings in map toolbox (no more grey out)
  • New! Compass calibration hint
  • New! Refreshed place details information view
  • Pinch to zoom interaction (Only available on Symbian^3 devices)
  • Visually refreshed main menu and icons,
  • New maps with public transport lines (as a new map layer) for subways, trams and trains in 80+ cities around the world. Just click the map toolbox icon and select Transit lines,
  • Improved search experience - find places and addresses around you – or anywhere in the world – fast and easily. Browse places or enter a keyword in the search box. Now with suggestions and “did you mean?” functionality,
  • New place pages with description, reviews, pictures and places nearby. Interact with places in a whole new way – you can check in, contact, navigate, save, rate, share, report or see place on the map,
  • Share a place – send a place to your friends via SMS or Email. The SMS contains the address and a link to the place page with description, ratings, contact, URL and a mini map. The link opens up on the mobile browser (also on non-Nokia devices),
  • Check in – keep your friends up-to-date with where you are and what you’re up to. Check in to places and share it with your friends on Facebook and many more social networks. See places you’ve been to in your check in history,
  • New Drive assistance mode with live traffic flow – after clicking Drive, you’re instantly in drive assistance mode with live traffic flow and more. Once you start moving, get safety camera alerts and speed limit warnings,
  • More folder with many rich content services relevant to your location. Personalise your Ovi Maps by selecting the services you’d like to keep on your main menu for instant access.
  • Traffic flow: In Drive mode, a number of improvements to the traffic flow colour scheme and layout.

(The items marked New! are new in this update; the others were available in earlier v3.06 beta versions)

I like the new facilities, and the way the menus are being rearranged, and this bodes well for the final release.  One word of warning; one of the known issues is that occasionally it will keep the GPS subsystem open (with the eventual battery drain); when I’ve seen this, I’ve found starting Ovi Maps back up and shutting it down again seems to have fixed, but it’s something to watch out for.  I also really like hitting the Drive option and being able to see my location on the map with traffic updates immediately available even without a destination set; this is another key feature for me, as I often want to use my phone’s SatNav simply for traffic without a route calculated.

Although the Share (location) option now supports a whole range of social networking sites, I would still love to see sites such as BrightKite and FourSquare integrated directly into the interface, but hopefully that will come in time.


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New FourSquare Symbian client in beta

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Although a number of applications (SociallyApp and Gravity) include support for FourSquare, there’s no standalone Symbian client (in the same way there is for BrightKite).  Now, although not developed directly by FourSquare, ThinkChange have announced a beta test for their FourSquare client called Symbian FourSquare.  You can either download an unsigned copy from their website and sign it yourself (if you have a certificate specific for your phone allowing you to sign apps), or you can apply to join their beta test and they will create you a version specifically for your phone.

This is a Touch only client (this is true of the BrightKite client too), so if you have a non-touch phone, there’s no point in applying for the beta programme, but if you do, then it might well be worth a look; if you are coming to Symbian from another platform, you may well find this FourSquare client looks similar to those on other mobile platforms, and it’s nice to see that there’s a common feel to the FourSquare clients.

It’s also nice to see that since originally announcing the beta trial, the unsigned version has been released, and also they’ve already updated the Symbian FourSquare website to show that it also works on the Nokia C6, which is starting to appear in shops.


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Brightkite updates Symbian App

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Brightkite have updated their Symbian app (which is available for free in the Ovi Store here).  The new version adds the following features:

Group Text

Nokia users now join iPhone & Blackberry, Mobile web and SMS users with the ability to use Group Text. Group Text allows users to text up to 25 people at once – when one person replies, everyone gets the message.

Likes

You can now Like posts, just like you can on the web

Photo Library integration

Now you can post photos from your Photo Library – not just ones you take with your camera.

Comment and Mention streams

Now you have dedicated areas in which you can see your comments and mentions

Better battery and GPS usage

We’ve changed the way the app accesses GPS on the phone, which enhances battery Life.

Bug fixes

Assorted tweaks, enhancements and fixes.

As before, the app is only available on the newer touchscreen devices, so if you still have a non-touch phone, you’re out of luck (and I don’t yet know of a decent 3rd party clients with Brightkite support either).


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Will this be a new best seller from Nokia?

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Nokia c6

This, apparently, maybe the new Nokia C6, from the same mid-range family as the Nokia C5 we covered a week or so back.  The interesting thing about this device, though, is obvious in the picture (this appears to be a leaked official Nokia press photo); the Nokia C6 combines a QWERTY keyboard (in the style of the Nokia E75 and the Nokia N810 before that) with the touchscreen of the latest S60 5th Edition.  That’s a very nice combination; the touchscreen for access to all the latest applications (eg Brightkite, which is S60 5th Edition only), but also offering a QWERTY keyboard for those who want to type a little more (and the additional of a cursor D-pad is a nice touch too)…

This device should have GPS too (and hence free Navigation), making it a nice all round device.  However, as a C-Series device, it is likely to be missing WiFi (like the recently announced Nokia 5230), which may be a challenge for some whilst at home; I know my data usage only stays within the limits set by the mobile networks due to WiFi usage at home.

Having said that, this looks very interesting, especially if it is priced as keenly as the Nokia C5…

If it’s a real device, it should be out in time for the Summer Holidays in the UK.


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Location Based Services & privacy

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

FourSquare Logo

Although I was tempted to write a “War and Peace” article on the issues of privacy surrounding Location Based Services, I won’t.  Last week a website was set up called Please Rob Me, which tries to show the risk of providing too much information on the Internet, which could lead to impacts in the real world; the point the website is making is that by providing information as to where your home is, and the fact you aren’t there, could increase your risk of being robbed.  Now, although it’s unlikely a robber is sitting watching your FourSquare / Brightkite / Google Latitude check-ins, the risk still exists.

So, what can be done about it?  Well, first of all, it’s well worth reading these articles (here from FourSquare, and here from Brightkite), but in essence, here are some key thoughts:

  • When you check-in, think carefully about the settings you use, and whether you want (or need) the world to know about you are at this location (especially if the location is your home).
  • Think about whether it’s wise to then have this information passed over to Facebook and/or Twitter.  Whereas FourSquare and Brightkite especially offer privacy controls, once you publish the information and location on Twitter (and increasingly Facebook with their new privacy settings), it’s available for anyone and everyone to see and search for.  Oh, and a lot of people are getting fed up with Twitter streams filling up with FourSquare check-ins, so it’s wise to turn this broadcasting off, if only to not annoy your friends.
  • Don’t forget other services, such as Plazes, Dopplr, TripIt and Upcoming also reveal where you are going to be in the future, which you may want to think twice about too; although some, like TripIt, allow you to set some trips as private so they won’t display in public information until you change that per-trip setting.
  • If you are using Fire Eagle to broker your location information (and it’s a very useful tool in this respect), again, remember it has the ability to control whether applications / websites can read and/or write your location information, and if reading it, what level of accuracy you give them access to.
  • As Brightkite mention, if you realise afterwards it might not have been a wise move, look for a delete option to remove the information.

If you look at my profiles on these services (and others like it, let’s not forget this problem isn’t new, it’s just FourSquare and Brightkite are getting more and more users), you’ll often find the I don’t broadcast any location unless it’s to friends, and even then, I may not reveal all the information; on Google Latitude for example, I can set some people to only getting city-level location information, so instead of being able to precisely pinpoint me on a map, they simply get a rough location; this is a useful feature for people you may speak to online occasionally, but don’t have enough information to be able to implicitly trust them (note: this isn’t about not trusting them at all, in my opinion it’s about whether you would tell them your whole life history warts’n’all).

As a passing comment, the latest version of Gravity, v1.30 (6350), includes support for FourSquare, as well as offering geo-location facilities; for S60 5th Edition and S60 3rd Edition FP2 devices (Nokia E72 etc.), this can be either cell ID location information, WiFi positioning information, or GPS information, whereas for S60 3rd Edition FP1 devices, it’s currently only cell ID and WiFi positioning (due to needing to get each version of the app through the long Symbian Signed process to allow access to the GPS information on an FP1 device).  If you are not a FourSquare fan, we’ve recently covered the S60 5th Edition Brightkite client (see here) that could be used instead.

So, although you’ll find I have accounts on most of the location based social networking services (Plazes, FourSquare, Brightkite, Google Latitude, TripIt, Dopplr, Upcoming), you’ll often find I’m (as FourSquare nicely phrase it) “Off the Grid”, or only visible if we’re already friends, and equally, although I have the ability to provide geo-location information on my tweets, I rarely do, as (in my opinion) it’s often not relevant where the tweet was actually written.

Also, you’re more likely to find me using location based services that have a range of privacy options, in the way that Brightkite used to (unless I’m mistaken this isn’t possible now) and Google Latitude still does; allowing not just control over who can access the information, but how accurately they can access it.


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Brightkite now available for Symbian

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Brightkite on Symbian

Brightkite have released their Symbian app (we first talked about it here over a year ago!), and it’s available in the Ovi Store here right now.  As you may work out from the screenshot, it’s for the touchscreen devices, and so is limited to S60 5th Edition devices (Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia N97, Nokia N97 Mini etc.) but even so, it’s an interesting step in the right direction.

In fact, maybe combining this with the Maps Booster application I discussed this morning would provide that nice alternative to Google Latitude I was looking for…


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Pixelpipe updates

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Pixelpipe Android client

We first covered pixelpipe a few weeks ago, but we have even more news to report about them.  Firstly, they have released a beta of their latest Android application (available here for download via your PC , or direct from your phone).  As you can see from the picture above they have produced a new feature rich client designed to ease your uploading of photos and videos (and audio) to various websites of your choosing (and of course, it also features the ability to provide status updates to many sites too.

On the subject of supported sites, pixelpipe have announced they now support over 95 sites, including:

Photo/Video: Flickr, Picasa,  Photobucket, Nokia Ovi, MobileMe, Phanfare, Smugmug, vimeo, ImageShack, pikeo, webshots,  FotoTime, Zooomr, Fotki, Zoom.in, 23hq, Photoservice.com, 72 photos, ipernity,  Shutterfly, photobox, Kodak Gallery, Snapfish, Zenfolio,  Gallery Menalto, DropShots,  SnapMyLife, tinypic, radar.net,  Windows Live Spaces, pikchur, Viewbook, OurDoings

Video: YouTube, blip.tv, 12seconds.tv, Viddler, Dailymotion, kewego, kyte.tv, Revver,  Vimeo, Seesmic

Status/Micro-Blog: Twitter, TwitVid, brightkite, FriendFeed, TwitPic, kwippy, Rejaw, , Plurk, identi.ca, youare.com, plerb, twitgoo, yfrog, pix.im, Jaiku, Google Talk, pic.im, TwitVid.io, Tweetphoto, koornk, TwitrPix, Utterli

Social Networks: MySpace, Facebook, hi5, Friendster, imeem, Vox, Bebo, Hyves, Xanga

Blogs: Blogger, TypePad, WordPress, tumbler, LiveJournal, Atom, MetaWeblog, MovableType, Drupal, Squarespace

Gateways: Posterous, ping.fm, Mobypicture

Online storage: box.net, drop.io, Acrobat.com

Widget: Picturtrail, imageloop

Other: FTP, Email, qipit, Scribd, Evernote

Now, that’s a fairly comprehensive list, and the list continues to grow week on week, although we’re struggling to think of many well known sites that aren’t already on that list.  Obviously you won’t publish to all 95, but the ability to select the one or more key sites you do use and then action a single upload is key to saving power and data charges.


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Use 3UK to update your social networks for free!

Friday, May 8th, 2009

3 logo

INQ1 Silver £15 per Month, Free 3 to 3 calls at 3M

Thanks to Gerry over at nokiAAdict.com for alerting us to this information; the ability to update your social networks for free via 3UK…!

This needs a couple of different systems linked together, so we’ll explain what is involved…

You need to have a Skype account, and have a 3UK provided mobile phone which supports their “Skype at 3″ application (to test this, we used a simple 3SkypePhone, although the newer SkypePhone S2 or INQ1 may be more suitable as they are easier to obtain if you want to start from nothing).  Since May 1st, use of Skype on the 3 network is free, which means you can use the instant messaging part of the Skype application from your mobile even if you haven’t topped up recently (Skype used to need a regular topup to let you login), and there are no data, call, or text charges for using Skype for simple chats.

You also need an account at ping.fm, which is a site which allows you to post a single message to multiple social networks at the same time.  Once registered, you can provide ping.fm with your login details to the various sites you want to update in this way (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIN, Brightkite, Blogger, LiveJournal and even things like your AIM status or Google Talk Status can be set using ping.fm).

Once you have set these both up, you need to go to the ping.fm dashboard and link your Skype account to your ping.fm account (you’ll need to send a user specific verification code from your Skype client to the ping.fm Skype account (pingdotfm).  To setup the link, you’ll need to select “Skype” from the Services / Tools area of the Dashboard and follow the instructions.

Having done this, your accounts are now all linked up.  If you have configured multiple accounts in ping.fm, you can now use the Skype client to chat with the ping.fm Skype account.  One way to send a message is to send it to a single social network, eg

  • “@tt Hi everyone” would send it to Twitter, whereas @fb would send it to Facebook (this page has the full list of single service codes to use)

Alternatively, ping.fm has the ability to group your sites together; the initial groups created are “Statuses”, “Micro-blogging” and “Blogs”.  Once you have recorded whether or not each social networking site should or should not be included within these groups, you can them send to the group of sites with a single Skype chat message.  Instead of starting with @tt though, you need to start with @s, @m or @b for statuses, micro-blogs and blogs respectively.

This wasn’t possible until recently when ping.fm added support for Skype.  Although we’ve covered ways of using Skype and Twitter together before, this is one of the most professional ways we’ve seen so far.

Oh, and if you go and drag an old 3 SkypePhone out of the cupboard to try this out, you may find you need to update the Skype client on the device for it to work without credit and let you login.  If so, select Menu, Games & Apps (top right), My Applications, and then Options (left softkey) and Check upgrade; we found we needed the latest version (v3.64.0.1) for it to work (you will most likely find other devices have different versions, but you may still need to install the latest version).


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Nokia update Friend View to include alerts

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Nokia Friend View Friend Alert

Nokia Beta Labs have updated their Friend View client so that it now includes alerts for when you become geographically close to one of your friends. If you leave Friend View running in the background (in either Normal or Active mode) it will alert you when you are close by a friend, and you can even adjust how close someone needs to be to be within your “meeting zone”.  Personally, I’d like to see even more control; for example in a large city such as London you want the meeting zone quite small, but out of the city, you may want a larger meeting zone (the same applies to other services like Brightkite whereby you can easily be swamped by information in cities, but out in the country you can be lukcy to see 1 or 2 people nearby using the same search criteria).

This is starting to show some good extra functionality compared to other services such as Google Latitude, although we would still like to see better integration (the various Nokia apps sharing contact information).

Of course, this app still does not appear to work with 3UK, so Nokia and 3UK should work together to fix this…

As always, Nokia Friend View can be accessed here.


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Travelling information and iPhone integration

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

FlightTrack Pro

I’ve been a big fan of TripIt for the last year or so. Whenever you receive an email confirmation of a flight, a hotel booking, hire car, even a train ticket reservation, you can forward this email to TripIt and they will convert it into a travel itinerary for you. This puts all your travel information into one single location. As they support iCal and RSS feeds, you can then get this information into other sources, such as your Calendar or other services.

About a month ago, TripIt announced a developer API program, which allows other companies (with your approval) to access this data, and the fruits of this are already starting to show with 2 iPhone applications now offering TripIt integration to enhance your travelling…

FlightTrack Pro (shown above, currently £5.99) is the first such app, which is designed to track all your flight details for you, with the ability to not only access the flight information, but also live weather, flight route maps, real-time flight status updates, airport time difference information, airport delays and closures, and will, in their latest version, also support importing the flight information from TripIt. Some of these features, including the TripIt support only come with the Pro version, so this is likely to be more useful to the regular traveller.

Now, most of this information is already available, but this app brings together a whole raft of different websites to bring that information onto a single screen, and that’s key to us; that little extra effort in integrating all that information can be so useful to some people. FlightTrack Pro should be able to link your TripIt information to airport information, thereby providing additional information such as last minute gate changes etc. It even features an offline mode to work whilst you are travelling at 30,000 feet and want to check the details of the airport you are arriving at, or even your next flight (although you won’t have information to the real-time updates).

If your travel plans don’t always revolve around flights, then TravelTracker (below, currently £11.99) may be a better app…

TravelTracker

This covers all type of travel, allowing you to enter information on flights, trains, hotels, car rentals, meetings and driving, but again, offers that ability to integrate with TripIt to collect the data. Given that TripIt can pretty much handle all of those types of travel, it seems a nice combination to provide easy access to your trip data. It’s not as polished in some areas, eg accessing real time flight status takes you to a web page, whereas FlightTrack Pro builds the information into the application itself, but it does support some simple expense management, and even will track your frequent traveller cards and programs. As well as supporting the iPhone, they also support the iPod Touch.

Which one would we choose; well that’s the nice thing; use TripIt to automatically process the emails you are sent when you book the travel in the first place (they also support the major travel agents which are commonly used by corporate travellers), and then get the data fed seamlessly into both application; given you the best of both worlds; FlightTrack Pro for the best handling of the flights, with TravelTracker handling the rest of the travel.

What about once you’ve arrived, and you want to make notes and record information about where you have been, and what you have seen; well, maybe Geotags for iPhone is a good solution for you…

Geotags for iPhone

Geotags for iPhone is a free map-based application for the iPhone, allowing you to keep a record of places and things you have seen of interest, by marking on the map where you found them. As well as written notes, it supports photos and short audio files. Once you have collected the information, it can be viewed in Google Earth. Of course, you can achieve similar things with other services, such as Brightkite, which also offers a wider variety of method of locating yourself, and offers more of an overall social networking experience via their Brightkite for iPhone client, which is also free.

Finally, if geocaching is your thing (and if not, why not?!) then we’ve covered geocaching for the iPhone before here.

This level of integration with services such as TripIt, potentially resulting in not having to enter the information by hand on any system appeals to me, and I hope that over the next few months, we start seeing similar TripIt integration into Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile applications for non-iPhone using travellers.

Some content about Geotags for iPhone from TUAW; thanks to Mark at Automated Home for the link.


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