Has your twitter app broken?

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Although it’s been delayed, today Twitter finally switch off the ability to use a username/password combination to access the Twitter API (used by many third party applications to access your twitter account).  Instead, a more secure system called OAuth must be used.  Now, many twitter clients have either moved to OAuth, or offer a choice of methods.

So, from today, the old method will no longer work; if your preferred twitter app has stopped working, first of all, check to see if there is an OAuth option, and if not, you might want to check for a software update to see if that resolves it.

Some apps will simply no longer work; fring have announced that in the short term their twitter addon for the Android version of fring will no longer work.

Of course, with many manufacturers building in twitter (and facebook) support into their phones, and many of those vendors being less helpful in providing any form of firmware update service, it’s possible your mobile phone app will no longer work either.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; when twitter were last planning this, I did a little research, and found that the majority of the mobile phones built in applications seemed to be using OAuth, and hence would not be affected.  Have you been affected? Has your preferred twitter client stopped working, and there’s no update? Let us know via the comments…

Screenshot of Gravity on Symbian courtesy of nokiaaddict.com (now gerrymoth.co.uk), and we should point out that Gravity has supported OAuth for some time, so as long as you are using a fairly up to date copy, you shouldn’t have any problems with Gravity.


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Pure Digital FlowSongs, new radios and Sensia update

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Over the last month or so, Pure Digital have been busy.  They’ve launched two new radios, updated the PURE Sensia software, and have now released a new service, Pure FlowSongs, which is a very interesting (and nicely integrated) service for some of their Internet radios…

Firstly, the Pure One Mi (pronounced Me), only costs £34.99, and includes DAB and FM radio, a clear digital display, 16 presets, multi-lingual menus and a USB socket for future updates, and is one of the more compact models they have ever produced.

They’ve also release the Pure Oasis Flow, a weatherproof and splash resistant, rechargeable internet-connected digital radio, costing £169.99, which features DAB and FM radio (as well as the internet radio via Wi-Fi), and should work for up to 15 hours on DAB.  It also supports the new Pure FlowSongs, covered below.

The PURE Sensia update is interesting.  When the radio first launched, I wondered how many additional plugins we would see over time for this device, and whether Pure would be able to continue to support it with new features.  Well, last month, Pure added Picasa support to the Twitter, Facebook and Weather applications already available.  This allows you to login to your online Picasa account and view a slideshow of your online pictures, either in the smaller visual panel, or full screen.  Some photo information can be overlaid on the picture, and you can change the timing of the slideshow, as well as pause it.

However, the most interesting item is Pure FlowSongs, which was announced this week.  This is only available in the UK (as a public beta), and is supported on the following radios:

PURE Sensia, PURE EVOKE Flow, PURE AVANTI Flow, Pure Oasis Flow and PURE Siesta Flow

The new software to support Pure FlowSongs will be released on Monday (16th August) and will allow you to identify, and then purchase any song you hear on the radio.  Importantly, you can be listening to the DAB radio, FM radio, or an Internet radio station (the software is limited to the internet-connected radios due to what happens next, not that the radio source needs to be internet based); the radio will then use a Shazam service (well known for their mobile application to detect what music is being played) to identify the song.  In the case of the PURE Sensia, there is an addition button on the screen (see below) whereas other radios will need a button combination to be pressed.

If you want to use the service, your radio needs to be registered at the Pure Lounge, and you’ll need to provide a credit or debit card to topup your online account, but then you’ll get a free 90 day trial of the identification service (normally £2.99 a year), and if you decide to purchase a song, they will cost an additional 79p to £1.29, and this uses the 7Digital music service.  The purchasing function on the device will be protected by a 4 digit PIN for security.

Once purchased, the song can then be downloaded (as an mp3) to your PC or Mac, but it will also be located within your Lounge account, allowing you to stream the song to your radio too.  Pure Digital also state the songs can be uploaded to an iPod, and have stated the mp3 files are DRM-free, allowing them to be played back on any mp3 device.  When you stream, the mp3 will be 128kbps, but the downloaded files will be up to 320kbps.

The integration of the Shazam service to allow you to identify any music being played is a very powerful extra facility for these radios; over the last year I’ve been impressed with both Pure Digital and Revo for adding support for Last.fm into some of their devices, and I think this ability to identify and even purchase songs adds even more to the experience.  Even better, although not yet available as part of the beta, Pure Digital are looking to enable you to buy whole albums using this method, which is likely to work out better value.


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HTC Hero – the Good, the Bad (and the Ugly?)

Monday, July 12th, 2010

After a good few weeks of using an Android phone for the majority of tasks I perform (except receiving calls), how have I found the phone? Thanks to 3MobileBuzz, I’ve had an HTC Hero on loan, and although not the newest of phones, it’s still interesting to see whether it can handle all my needs.  In fact, just before the phone I wrote down the 30 most important tasks I currently use my Symbian for just to remind me the sorts of applications and tasks I needed the phone to perform.

So, a small caveat; as the phone came preconfigured with a SIM, Google Account and Spotify Premium account, I haven’t used the phone with my Google Acount (ie Mail, Calendar etc.) and I haven’t used it for receiving calls (as none of my friends know this phone’s number). Finally, as a loan phone, I have limited myself to *free* Android apps.

The Good – In nearly every task I’ve thrown at it (including a few extra ones), it’s excelled, and the phone has worked well.  Applications have been available to help with the task at hand.  Spotify (in both online and offline mode) proved to be a useful application (although quite why, when you have a track in the local cache, it continues to consume online data I don’t know).  In the majority of tasks I wanted to perform, there was a free app to help out (something that’s not true of Symbian, although it’s close), and in many cases, the best app appeared to be the free app too.  Apps were available to integrate into the phone; although it’s against the T&Cs to export phone numbers from the Facebook site, the Facebook widget was at least able to offer to dial numbers direct for you.  The phone was not too heavy, and easy to use one-handed as well as with two (and not suffering from the way I held the phone 😉  Many options were configurable, or 3rd party tools are available to help achieve a little tweak here or there.

The Bad – Not every app though performed well; a few have crashed regularly, making it feel a little like when you beta test software; some of the apps that crashed had 1 or 2 updates during the time, yet still continued to crash.  Whether or not this is a result of the phone still being on Android v1.5 I don’t know, but this is at least being fixed (hopefully) this month.  Another thing missing (not that Symbian is any better, but the iPhone is) was that there was little consistency in the UI between the different programs from different authors, and little consistency between the widgets available too.  Also, although everyone berates Symbian for constantly asking you which connection you want to use, there were a few times when I actively wanted to use 3G over Wi-Fi (accessing 3UK‘s Planet 3 website or knowing that I was too far from the Wi-Fi for it to work reliably), and this level of control is not available.

So, overall, I enjoyed the phone, and the Capacitive screen made me realise what an impact this has on the whole UI, and whether even the newest phones from Nokia which continue with Resistive screens can be as much as a success (of course, the new Nokia N8 is Capacitive).  Having said I enjoyed it, the third party apps crashing regularly did put me off a little.

The ugly? It may have been this particular phone, but it struggled to hold a connection to my Wi-Fi.  Whenever it lost it (even when in the same room), it brought home that the 3G radio signal was equally awful (The HTC Hero seems to have a reputation for having a poor 3G antenna design especially in poor signal areas), meaning I was often left without net access at home (although in many other areas where the 3G was stronger it performed well).

Would I buy an Android phone? Yes, but more likely the HTC Desire (also available from 3UK), which offers a later OS version and is more powerful, but I would like to see some improvements in the overall experience.

Thanks again to 3MobileBuzz for the loan of the phone.


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New phones on 3UK

Friday, July 9th, 2010

3UK have announced this week that they now have two new Android smartphones that you can purchase on 3UK, and not just that, but you can get them on the new One Plan we covered here which offers fantastic value for money if you are a heavy mobile user.

Firstly, they are now offering the HTC Wildfire, which is a cut down version of the HTC Desire.  Although cut down might imply “cheap”, and it’s fair to say it doesn’t have the spec (or the price) of the HTC Desire, but it’s actually still a very capable Android device; in fact the only compliant I’ve heard about it is that moving forward over the next year or two, the screen maybe too small to allow major OS upgrades, as Google has now specified a minimum spec (including display resolution) for the future, and the HTC Wildfire falls a little short.

Having said that, it still rivals many other phones, and is still a better display than many other phones of last year! The 3.2″ screen is still a good size, and the 5 megapixel camera is still better than many, and it offers Android v2.1 with HTC’s Sense UI too.  All the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. are there too.  Also interestingly, although it’s available now in “Metal Mocha” colour, it will also be available on 3UK in Red from August, and the Red colour will be exclusive to 3UK.

If you aren’t an HTC fan, then there’s always the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro, which again, is a smaller smartphone (the “X10 Mini” part), but features quite a key differentiator; the “Pro” means it also features a QWERTY keyboard!  This is a slide out keyboard (in the same way as the Nokia E75, Nokia C6 or Nokia N900), and although it blatantly doesn’t feature the HTC Sense UI, it does feature some key Sony Ericsson UI customisations instead.  These include the ability to specify 4 corner navigation and 3 homescreens, and it also features Sony Ericsson’s Timescape, which brings together your Facebook, Twitter, email, text messages and calls into one place.  This sounds an interesting feature, although with many of these manufacturer applications, it may be a little limiting to the “serious” social networker, especially if it can’t be expanded to support other social networks.

The Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro is available in Black from 3UK, and also in White, which will (like the Red HTC Wildfire) be a colour exclusive to 3UK.

If you want either of these phones on the new One Plan, they are available for £30 per month (24-month contract), and remember that comes with 2000 cross network minutes, 5000 3UK3UK minutes, 5000 texts and 1GB data; if you want to buy them on PAYG, the HTC Wildfire is £199 and the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro is £249, both very competitive prices in their own right!

I like the way that whilst historically 3UK were not able to arrange model exclusivity agreements, they are now sufficiently recognised by the manufacturers to at least able to negotiate colour exclusives, and you never know, maybe this time next year, we’ll see a worthy smartphone launch exclusively on 3UK


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Kindle update

Monday, June 14th, 2010

The v2.5.2 Kindle International firmware is starting to hit Kindle devices in the UK.  When we reported about the removal of the $2 wireless delivery charge (see here), we mentioned that we had heard about the opening up of the browser to all websites.  Well, it appears that once you get the new v2.5.2 firmware, you should find that web browsing is now open to all websites, as part of also supporting the Facebook and Twitter social networking functions that arrive with v2.5.2.

This is good news, and it’s nice to see the opening up of the Kindle.


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Hermes (for N900) updated

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Nokia N900

I’ve covered Hermes before (see here), but the latest update seems worthy of another mention.  Hermes will now take your Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter and Gravatar friends information, and use it to populate additional information into your local addressbook. This new version adds support for when the matching process doesn’t quite work, and you need to manually help it along the way. When you need to provide the manual link between the local addressbook and the online details (for example when the names don’t quite match, or you have two “Adrian”s and it can’t tell which is which), then you simply start typing the name to match and it provides a list of options.

This level of integration between my online communities and my local addressbook is key to me; it’s similar to the Socially App for Symbian which although doesn’t this level of detail local does at least integrate things like online avatars from online services into the phone experience, but I have to say the potential richness of the data that Hermes supplies is very impressive.

This Find-as-you-type comes as part of v0.8.2, and it’s available in the Maemo Application Manager.  For more details on the new version, and a few screenshots showing the new features, head over to The Nokia Blog who have more information.


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Dell Streak available tomorrow from O2

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

This is a very interesting device, and one I had the fortune to get a sneak peek Hands On with last week.  This is a 5″ tablet phone, which I have to say is a little large to hold up to your ear when on a call, so you might want to budget for a Bluetooth Headset to not look quite so silly, or simply add this to your existing phone with a data only contract (more later).  However, it’s running Android, and features a very nice touchscreen, which can take the knocks of every day life (I saw the blunt end of a knife be punched into the screens of 2 devices and neither suffered any problems with the touchscreen still working fine straight afterwards).  Obviously Dell & O2 don’t condone this level of abuse, and do warn that there are still certain angles where a drop onto a hard floor will still cause serious damage, but at least it’s a little tougher than many, and features something called Gorilla Glass to provide that protection.

The device I saw had a range of additional Android applications installed onto them, so although I can’t comment on what comes as standard with the device, they seem to have full support of the Android Marketplace, and hence there is a whole raft of additional applications that can be installed.

Although I didn’t get long with the devices, they seemed to be coping with many demos without a major impact on battery life, although that obviously needs a longer trial to establish whether it can last more than the common single day of usage.

O2, however, are offering the phone on a whole host of tariff options, ranging from the 30-day rolling Simplicity contracts (the Dell Streak 32GB will cost £399 upfront on all Simplicity contracts) to the high end £60 per month “unlimited” everything 24-month contract (where the device will be free).

24 month smartphone tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
100 Unlimited Unlimited £25 £149 £249
300 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £59 £149
600 Unlimited Unlimited £35 Free £89
900 Unlimited Unlimited £40 Free £59
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £45 Free Free
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £60 Free Free

18 month smartphone tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
100 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £149 £249
300 Unlimited Unlimited £35 £59 £149
600 Unlimited Unlimited £40 Free £89
900 Unlimited Unlimited £45 Free £59
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £50 Free Free
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £65 Free Free

The Smartphone tariffs above offer unlimited texts, data and Wi-Fi at thousands of BT Openzone and The Cloud hotspots as well as a wide range of minutes.

12 month simplicity tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
300 Unlimited Unlimited £15 £349 £399
600 Unlimited Unlimited £20 £349 £399
900 Unlimited Unlimited £25 £349 £399
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £349 £399
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £45 £349 £399

30 day simplicity tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
300 Unlimited Unlimited £20 £349 £399
600 Unlimited Unlimited £25 £349 £399
900 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £349 £399
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £35 £349 £399
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £50 £349 £399

Again, it’s nice to see Wi-Fi at hotspots included even on these tariffs.

However, maybe the biggest area of interest will be the Data Only options, where the device isn’t actually used as a phone at all, but instead, concentrates on it’s capabilities as an Internet Tablet…

Contract length Included data Included Wi-Fi Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
24 months 3GB 500MB £25 Free* £99
24 months 3GB Unlimited £30 Free £49
18 months 3GB Unlimited £15 £349 £399
18 months 1GB Unlimited £10 £349 £399
1 month 3GB Unlimited £15 £399 £449
1 month 1GB Unlimited £10 £449 £449

* The 16GB Dell Streak is free on a £25 a month 24 month tariff until 30 June 2010, after which it’ll cost £49.

Although there’s quite a jump from the £15 per month 18-month contract to the £30 per month 24-month contract, with the smaller outlay of the phone itself, it works out roughly the same cost (within £10) over 24 months on both.

The specs of the device (taken from Dell) include:

  • A sharp 5-inch capacitive multi-touch WVGA (800×480) display for a great full-screen experience watching video or browsing the web
  • Fast 1GHz Snapdragon ARM-based mobile processor from Qualcomm
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash that offers easy point & shoot capability and quick uploads to YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and more
  • VGA front-facing camera enables video chat functionality down the road
  • A user-removable (and replaceable) battery
  • A 3.5mm headphone jack means many of you can use the Dell Streak as the music source (and more) in your car
  • Integrated 3G + Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) + Bluetooth 2.1 (think headsets, external keyboards, stereo headsets, etc.)
  • UMTS / GPRS / EDGE class 12 GSM radio with link speeds of HSDPA 7.2 Mbps / HSUPA
  • A user-accessible Micro SD slot expandable up to 32GB. That means you can store  lots of movies, music, photos or other kinds of files.

On the software side, here’s what you can expect:

  • A customized multi-touch version of the Google Android operating system that features Dell user interface enhancements
  • Access to over 38,000  apps (and growing) via the Android Marketplace
  • Microsoft Exchange connectivity and integration through TouchDown
  • Google Voice support
  • Integrated Google Maps with voice-activated search, turn-by-turn navigation, street and satellite views
  • Quick access to activity streams via integrated social network app widgets like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

The only downside I can see to the device right now, is that I believe it ships with Android 1.6, although it’s likely that Android 2.1 or 2.2 will become available as an update, but not until later in the year (we’re hearing September).  The device as it stands, though, will be available tomorrow from O2 Stores and the O2 website.

I should point out as part of our “Not Unlimited” campaign, that I doubt that any of these “unlimited” references actually get you unlimited service, but O2 have not yet provided the detail behind what the actual unlimited limits are.


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Socially App release another new version

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

This week Socially App have released v1.40 of their Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIN client, and added the following features:

  • Ability to geotweet (ie include your location within a twitter message), although you do need to enable this within your twitter account too before it will be visible to others.
  • Ability to search on twitter limiting the search to “nearby” people.
  • Ability to define the preferred WiFi and Data access point to use; the app will use WiFi whenever within range, but will then use the GPRS / 3G network when necessary.

I’m really impressed with Socially App, especially as it’s free.  Whereas Gravity is still struggling to implement full GPS access under S60 3rd Edition FP1 (think Nokia N95, Nokia N95 8GB, Nokia E71), Socially App has managed it just fine (I should add Gravity also supports the use of the Google Maps API to locate you via WiFi or cell ID, so still offers location services on FP1), and I really like the way that when you want to see your current position, Socially App fires up the local Ovi Maps to show you where you are (see below); it would be nice, in time, to see even more use of Ovi Maps integrated into the application.

As before, Socially App can be downloaded direct on your phone from their website at m.sociallyapp.com


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Update to Socially app

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

It’s not often a new app can come along and provide similar features to an existing application, yet still be worth installing, but Socially App seems to be one such app.  If you are a heavy Twitter or Facebook user on Symbian, chances are you are already running Gravity, which is by far the best overall Social Networking client for Symbian, but that does not mean that there is not a place for Socially App on your device.

The main benefit to Socially App is that, when a call comes in, it will display the latest information that it has on the individual, based on their posting to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN.  That last point can’t be missed; Gravity does not (currently) support LinkedIN, so this app does provide a convenient way to access and update your status on a wider range of platforms.

Of course, one must not forget that if you set it to regular updates and you have Gravity doing likewise, then you run the risk of running into the API limits on Twitter that could impact the experience on both tools.

If you only have a few friends and they don’t tweet / use facebook all the time, then you can turn on Desktop alerts in the Socially App, which will put the information onto the homescreen when updates come in, but with more than a few friends, and this gets unmanageable.  Another nice touch is going into Contacts you can long press * or Fn and it will display your online contacts as opposed to your local contacts; it would be nice to see more integration along the likes of fring which creates a single list of all online and local contacts, but it’s still useful.

One other feature that the Socially App offers is the ability to screen your calls; I need to play with this some more to see how it works, and whether it’s useful in the long run, but after a brief play, it’s fair to say Socially App is definitely worth a look; not necessarily as a tool for providing updates of your status to others (and Gravity still wins here, especially as it can connect via ping.fm, which therefore allows posting to many more sites than either tool natively provides), but as a way of getting status updates of others and providing that information when phone calls come in seems a powerful feature.

If you want to try it out (and it’s currently completely free) then point your Symbian phone to m.sociallyapp.com and download the latest version.


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New features in Socially App

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Socially Symbian App

Socially App is a new Social Networking application for Symbian phones.  At first, it didn’t really catch my attention as Gravity is a much more complete Twitter / Facebook / Google Reader / FourSquare client, but as Socially continues to develop, it’s functionality can’t be ignored.

One of the main functions, and shown in the screenshot above, is that it provides information on the latest SocNet updates of the person ringing you.  Now this is a useful feature; to know what’s going on with a friend just as they ring you can be very useful, especially as Socially covers Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIN (this last option something that Gravity does not currently support).

Even better, Socially App continues to develop; last week a new beta version was released which includes a lot of new functionality, but for me the key interesting feature is not about adding better Twitter support for DMs, or the ability to retweet messages, nor it is detailed information about Connections from LinkedIN; no, it’s a simple feature which has caught my attention on other platforms, and currently missing on Symbian (until now); the ability to sync Facebook photos into the local Contacts addressbook.  Although some people change their Facebook picture more often than they post on Facebook, for most people, this offers a way of keeping the pictures within your Contacts up to date without any effort, and for that, I support this feature.

If you want to try out this beta before a formal release occurs, head to m.sociallyapp.com/beta on your phone and try it out.  If you don’t want to try beta software, then head to m.sociallyapp.com for the standard release (or head to the Ovi Store).  Obviously to work, it needs a data connection to provide the information, so this, like many recent apps, isn’t really suitable without data support on your contract.


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