Do you have any questions for 3UK?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

3 logo

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

Later this week, I’ll be meeting up with a number of people from all different departments within 3UK, so here’s your chance to get any questions you have asked direct to people within 3UK who may be able to provide feedback for you…

Obviously they need to be general questions about the overall service, or plans for the future (although I doubt they will magically reveal their future product / phone handset plans), as I won’t be able to deal with specific individual problems, but if you have any questions, please add a comment and although the comment may not appear on the public site, I’ll read it and pass on the question if appropriate…

I already have 3 or 4 questions to put to 3UK, so I’m hoping this event will provide some useful information for you when I writeup the event.

In attendance at the event there should be 3UK staff from Customer Services, Handsets, Mobile Broadband, and Products & Services, so whatever your question, I’ll try to pass it on…


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INQ PC Software

Monday, January 18th, 2010

INQ Chat & INQ Mini

When I covered the INQ Chat 3G last week (here), I didn’t mention anything about the PC software side of things, so I thought I’d add a few comments on that here.  From one point of view, it all looks very smooth and slick, but when you go into the weeds, it’s not so perfect…

Firstly, when you connect the phone to your PC, it brings up a little menu with a variety of options, including installing the drivers to user your phone as a modem, and the option to install DoubleTwist, the new application INQ are using to manage your media.

Now, I thought this was very good, but when you click to install DoubleTwist, it actually opens a webpage and takes you directly to the DoubleTwist website to download the latest version from there.  From one point of view, this is good, as you always get the latest version, but it’s not exactly “out of the box”.  So, after a download and an installation, I was surprised to find the latest version of the software wasn’t able to recognise the phone at all.  In fact, reading the handy hint cards that came with the phone didn’t reveal the problem, until I happened to search the online INQ forums (although my phone arrived the same week most shops started selling it, I guessed that INQ Mini users may have had similar issues), and eventually I found the answer; you need to use a microSD card (not included in the box) to be able to use DoubleTwist…

Now, I acknowledge that the phone doesn’t have a lot of spare memory capacity built in, but it did seem a shame to not mention anywhere that music management needed an additional memory card.  One memory card later, and all was well.  Well, as well as could be expected; you see, I’m not (yet) a big Apple fan, so I rarely use iTunes for music (podcasts and other videos yes, but not music) as hence although DoubleTwist was capable of transferring my iTunes music across to the phone, that did not amount to much…

Here again, I found a minor issue with DoubleTwist; it happily copied the music from a couple of my iTunes playlists across to the phone, but didn’t actually copy the playlist; ie it copied all the songs, but made no attempt to build equivalent playlists on the phone to allow easy selection of the music again.

Apart from one or two niggles (that I covered within the actual INQ Chat 3G review here), this did seem a little bit of a let down to me, and although it’s outside of INQ’s control, I do hope that either DoubleTwist improves their software, or INQ can persuade them to support playlists just for them…

So, overall, the PC Software options are nicely integrated and thought out, but, like the phone, let down if you a power user.

My time with the INQ Chat 3G is now up, so I won’t necessarily keep up to date with how the software (on the phone or on the PC) improve with time, but I hope they do.  One thing I forgot to mention with the hardware review; since being announced, the price of the INQ Chat 3G has dropped a fair amount, and at only £89.99 on PAYG, it’s actually a hell of a lot of phone for the money…


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Nokia Messaging release Social Networking update

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Nokia Messaging for Social Networks

Nokia BetaLabs have released an update to their Nokia Messaging for Social Networks beta product, which now features improved Facebook access, and also adds the first round of Twitter support.  Nokia have also commented that they will be adding other Social Networking sites over time.

As well as the initial version, which offered to let people view, post, and comment on messages, share their location and status while keeping up with their Facebook friends, the new version adds the following Facebook features:

  • Upload pictures and videos
  • Events: View upcoming events, birthdays and import to device calendar
  • Search friends
  • Click-to-call / click-to-SMS / click-to-FB Email

In terms of the Twitter support, it includes the ability to see your friends’ tweets, reply to them, and open links in their tweets, but more advanced functions like Direct Messages, Trends, and Follower information all have placeholders, but are marked as coming soon.

The application also has some location sharing features, which are built on top of Ovi Maps, and it also offers a Homescreen widget.  This app is, however, limited to the Nokia N97, Nokia N97 Mini, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and the Nokia X6 right now.

This does look an interesting application, and may, over time, become a useful tool for those wanting to keep online from their device.  This is the sort of functionality we are seeing built directly into other phones as they ship (eg the INQ Mini 3G, and the INQ Chat 3G), so it will be nice when Nokia are shipping this by default on their phones to offer a similar experience as other manufacturers are managing.


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3UK now selling refurbished handsets

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

3 logo

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

In a move said to be supporting the “Make do and Mend” movement, 3UK have announced that they are now selling refurbished handsets, which currently includes the Skypephone S2, the White Skypephone, and the LG KF310, although this list will vary as stock changes over time.

If you are interested, head to the 3UK Refurbished Handsets page on the 3UK website.


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INQ Chat 3G now available in the UK

Friday, December 11th, 2009

INQ Chat & INQ Mini

Just a quick heads up; the INQ Chat 3G has gone on sale with 3UK today in both their Stores and on the 3UK website.  It retails at £99.99 on PAYG or is available from £15 per month (18-month contract), and nicely it seems that 3UK are including internet on that tariff.  Head to the 3Store today to purchase.


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Hermes app integrates Social Networking Contacts on N900

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Nokia N900

This short video (from Nokia Conversations) shows how the Hermes application works on the new Nokia N900.  It can go and collect information from Facebook and Twitter (although only Facebook is shown in the video), and match up your contacts with your online friends, and then it will bring your friend’s latest avatar picture, birthday information, and profile URL into the local Address Book.  It’ll even import those birthdays into the Calendar too.

It can either be set to Retrieve (which collects the missing pieces of information from your contacts), or Refresh, which will overwrite all the local information from the online information.  We like this level of integration, and hope the developer continues to develop it to offer more functions.  This offers a similar base function to that of the INQ Mini 3G (although we don’t believe that Hermes brings status information into the Address Book.  If you have a friend on Facebook, but not already in your Address Book, and the only information available from Facebook is their birthday, Hermes will even create a generally empty Contact record to allow the birthday to still be recorded and stored in the Calendar.

The developer, for example, is working on a facility to keep a history of downloaded images (avatars), to allow you to select one, even if your friend has moved onto a different one, and he’s also looking at an auto-update facility, especially for Facebook.

Here’s another video of it in action (courtesy of thenokiablog.com)


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Truphone updates

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Truphone iPhone v3

I met up with James Body of Truphone last night, and had a nice long chat about where Truphone and other companies are going in the next few months.  However, the exciting solution is the Truphone Local Anywhere solution, that I’ve talked about before, should launch early next year.  Because Truphone are supplying the SIM which talks to their infrastructure backend, it allows them to provide some nice features you won’t see on other solutions…

When they launch, they will have support for UK and US, but not just will you be able to roam to the US at nice low rates, but on that single SIM, Truphone are able to provision you both a UK phone number and a US phone number (in fact, they will over time be able to provide multiple different country phone numbers on that single SIM).  This is the cool bit; irrespective of where you are located, the SIM will work the same way…

  • If someone in the UK rings your UK number, they will reach you
  • If someone in the US rings your US number, they will reach you
  • There will be clever CLI management functions to allow you some control over the Caller ID presented to your callers as well.

Basically, the person you call doesn’t need to know you are roaming, doesn’t need to know which country you are in, and can also reach you on what is (to them) a local number.  Because your outbound call is being routed through Truphone, the call cost to you is lower than normal roaming rates too.

The benefits of this are items such as:

  • The convenience of a single SIM with local mobile numbers in multiple countries
  • The ability to transfer their current mobile number to Truphone
  • Great value domestic calls, SMS, and data in their home country
  • Low cost international calling to the world from their home country
  • Significant call savings, when visiting other countries
  • The feeling of being local, wherever they go

This is powerful.  For those regular international travellers or even international businessmen, this is a well designed solution.  As we mentioned earlier this year when we first covered Truphone Local Anywhere, data will also be available as part of this solution.

James was sporting (amongst many other handsets) an iPod Touch and a 3UK MiFi (which are being bundled together by 3UK; see here), and was having no problems with utilising the iPod Touch for VOIP calls over 3UK‘s network.  In fact, a solution like Truphone on an iPod Touch, or Skype on an INQ Mini 3G may well suit many families to allow easy and cheap communications between everyone without needing lengthy phone contracts (calls to other Truphone users, like Skype, are free of call costs).

As Truphone have pointed out here, using an iPod Touch over WiFi with the 3UK MiFi allows apps such as Truphone and BBC iPlayer to work as the iPod Touch sees a WiFi connection and is not aware that the traffic will then pass onto a 3G network.  The same trick can be used with the iPhone as well, of course.

Thanks to James to taking time to talk through this and many other matters last night, and here at UK Gadgeteer we look forward to some of the other Truphone developments during 2010.

Update: When first published, this story had a number of technical inaccuracies which have now been addressed; apologies and thanks to Truphone for the corrections.  For more information on Truphone Local Anywhere, head to the Truphone website, or look at this PDF presentation giving the details of the new service.


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Facebook support for E71/E72, but it’s not enough

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Facebook for E71 / E72

Now available in the Ovi Store is a Symbian Facebook  for the Nokia E71 / Nokia E72.  To see more screenshots, head over to ZOMG its CJ’s website here.  However, from our point of view, it’s not enough…

On much cheaper phones (eg the INQ Mini 3G, reviewed here) the Facebook support is actually much more integrated into the phone; it will happily take the Facebook contacts and add them to the local addressbook, it will bring their picture down, and it even puts their latest status updates right in the addressbook for you to see if you are about to ring, text or IM them.  The Sony Ericsson T715 we recently reviewed (here) also had support for Facebook, with the ability to upload pictures to Facebook as soon as they were taken, so why aren’t we seeing this level of integration on Symbian?

None of this is difficult, and if it can be achieved for a £50 phone, then surely it can be achieved for a £300 phone…

However, it’s a start, and one we hope that Facebook and Symbian work on to improve.  Also, we’ve no idea why this application is limited to these two phones, although we can understand the need for a portrait version and a separate landscape version given the way Symbian works.

Screenshot courtesy of ZOMG its CJ too.


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INQ Mini 3G Review

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

INQ Chat & INQ Mini

Well, I’ve had an INQ Mini 3G (courtesy of 3mobilebuzz) for a couple of weeks now, and overall, I’ve been quietly impressed by the phone.  From the automatic importing of Facebook and Skype contacts into the Contacts list, to the fact the phone has support for these Social Networking sites, and Twitter support, and all for less than £50!

Now, let’s be honest, I’m used to smartphones, and there are a number of little things that annoy me with the device; the start up sound can’t be cancelled by pressing a key (as per Nokia devices), and the whole menu system is a little bright and colourful for my taste (and with no theme support, no opportunity to change it either), but these are minor niggles, and certainly don’t detract from the phone.

Supporting Social Networking sites directly in the device, combined with the standard 3UK support of Windows Live Messenger makes this a well supported device, and well worth a look.  I liked the fact the homepage supports 3 widgets (I used weather, world clock and an RSS feed of the BBC website, all options built into the phone), although I have heard some people warn there may be a memory leak, as I’ve heard of people needing to reboot the phone after a long time turned on with widgets in use.  That’s a key issue to me; I rarely turn my phone off, so long term stability is key, and it maybe that a firmware / application update is needed to resolve these issues; hopefully they will be addressed before the INQ Chat ships.

The phone also shipped with Google Mail and Google Maps (v2.3.2; nice!), which was useful for people like me who use Google a lot, and the phone can be used with GooSync to sync data from the likes of Google Calendar too.  Personally, I found the calendar a bit simple when entering new entries, but I suspect most people will use the phone linked to Google or Outlook, and not enter directly onto the device (again, I’ve been spoilt by smartphones offering a decent Calendar app).  In fact, the only thing missing is the Last.fm scrobbling support that the INQ1 had, and it’s still not clear why INQ dropped this function, especially with the likes of Last.fm and Spotify moving more into the mobile space…

Again, a personal point, but it uses miniUSB (not the end of the world, although many manufacturers are moving to microUSB), which is used for both the headphones and charging.  With Bluetooth support for a headset in the car, this isn’t the end of the world, but I’m not a fan of the combined port; let’s hope when INQ move to Android next year we’ll see a dedicated headphone socket on their devices.  Whilst I’m looking at the hardware, I wasn’t a big fan of the way the rear cover clipped on (it did have a release button at the top, which makes it better than the Sony Ericsson T715 I reviewed here), but only just, and I couldn’t find any sight of the other 6 coloured interchangeable backs on the 3Store, so right now you’ll be stuck with the red back).

Let’s be honest, for the price and based on the software on this device; if you are not in the market for a smartphone but want connectivity options to keep upto date with your Social Networking sites, then the INQ Mini 3G should be high on your list of options, if not at the top.  Here at UK Gadgeteer, I’ve covered a number of hints and tips over the last few weeks, and INQ Mobile should be congratulated for providing online support, and being willing to engage with their customers.

When the INQ Chat arrives with the QWERTY keyboard, and GPS, it’ll be interesting to see whether INQ can still compete in the mid-tier marketplace against devices like the Nokia E63

Oh, and finally, a small point, but having performed a master reset of the device to return it, the phone still had all the contacts on it, plus the sign-in details for Skype, so if you ever decide to sell your INQ Mini 3G, be careful about removing all your personal data as well as performing a master reset.


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Another INQ Mini 3G Tip

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

INQ Chat & INQ Mini

If you’ve got an INQ Mini 3G, then point the browser to the new INQ Hub at http://hub.inqmobile.com/inqhub/hub/opco/3uk and save it as a bookmark.  It allows easy access to many features, including the user guide, FAQ and troubleshooting information, but also provides access to any application upgrades, as well as to a 3UK specific GetJar application website for access to additional applications to download (some chargeable).

This is a good feature, and it’s little things like this that makes us fans of the INQ Mini 3G

With thanks to INQ Mobile themselves, who providing this information to us.


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