mobbler updated and in Ovi Store

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

mobbler, the Symbian Last.FM client, has been updated, and is also now available in the Ovi Store.  Due to a limitation in the Symbian Signed process, the version number has now been moved up to v2.1.  The full feature changelog is:

  • Fix for radio on Nokia N8/Symbian^3
  • Subscriber-only radio
  • Share on Twitter
  • Signup
  • Biography
  • Local events based on cell ID
  • Better lyrics display
  • Username limit increased from 15 -> 32 chars
  • Better equaliser support
  • Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Ukrainian added and other languages updated
  • Old scrobbles warning
  • Play Mix Radio station
  • Play Last.fm group radio station
  • Play a custom lastfm:// radio station
  • Removed discontinued Loved Tracks and Playlists radio station
  • 20 volume steps where available (Symbian^3)
  • Display subscriber’s prestigious black icon
  • Rejigged the Start a station menu

For anyone who tried out the Beta which came out last November, then this latest version is very similar, but worth upgrading to.


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Last.fm moving to subscription radio only for mobiles

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Although it’s been something that many have foreseen for some time, and of course, outside of the UK (plus US & Germany), they’ve been charging for some time, but Last.fm have now confirmed that you will need a subscription (at £3 per month) to continue to listen to Last.fm radio on many mobile and hardware devices.  The change happens on 15th February, and the list includes:

  • Google Android – free app; subscription required for radio in US, UK and Germany
  • Apple iPhone – free app; subscription required for radio in US, UK and Germany
  • Microsoft X-Box Live (also with Kinect) – App free with X-Box Live Membership in US and UK
  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 7 – Free in 2011 in US and UK; subscription required for radio in Germany
  • All Logitech Squeezebox products – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • All Sonos products – Free until mid-summer 2011 for US, UK and Germany; subscription required thereafter
  • Revo AXiS, Ikon, Domino, Heritage – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • Roberts Stream 63i, 205, Colourstream, 83i – subscription required in US
  • M3 Muvid Products – subscription required in Germany
  • Teufel Audio Raumfeld – subscription required in UK and Germany
  • Selected Onkyo AV receivers – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • Denon and Marantz selected AV receivers – subscription required in UK and Germany
  • To be fair to Last.fm, many of those devices we’ve covered here before (including the PURE Sensia and Revo units) have needed a subscription from the day they were launched, so the headline change has already affecting many users.  Last.fm have stated:

    “On the Last.fm website an ad-supported, free-to-listeners model is what supports our online radio services in the US, UK and Germany. In other markets and on emerging mobile and home entertainment devices, it is not practical for us to deliver an ad supported radio experience, but instead, we will migrate to what we believe is the highest quality, lowest cost ad-free music service in the world.”

    Some people are likely to stop using Last.fm at this point, however, many others will consider the charge (less than £40 for the year, and still less than other services such as Spotify) worthwhile.


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    New mobbler version in testing

    Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

    Following on from our mention of changes coming at Last.fm, the team behind mobbler are currently testing a beta version of their Last.fm client in preparation for the changes.  So, the old stations that will no longer be available are removed, and the new Mix Radio has been added.  On top of that, there are a whole range of new / improved features:

    • Fix for radio on Nokia N8/Symbian^3
    • Subscriber-only radio
    • Share on Twitter
    • Signup
    • Biography
    • Local events based on cell ID
    • Better lyrics display
    • Username limit increased from 15 -> 32 chars
    • Better equaliser support
    • Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Ukrainian added and other languages updated
    • Old scrobbles warning
    • Play Mix Radio station
    • Play Last.fm group radio station
    • Play a custom lastfm:// radio station
    • Removed discontinued Loved Tracks and Playlists radio station
    • 20 volume steps where available (Symbian^3)
    • Display subscriber’s prestigious black icon
    • Rejigged the Start a station menu

    However, it’s worth also noting that this version comes with a warning:

    “Mobbler versions 0.10.x and 1.10.x uses the official Last.fm radio API which only allows paying subscribers to stream the radio. Non-subscribers with free accounts are allowed a 30 track free trial from Last.fm. Only paying subscribers can play the radio. Free user accounts can’t play the radio. Subscribers will see a prestigious black icon at the top left when online. If you have an S60 phone (i.e. pre-N8/Symbian^3) an older version may still stream radio until Last.fm disable it.”

    So, in essence, Last.fm are transitioning to a situation where you need to pay the subscription fee to stream any radio stations (a position already in place on the hardware devices such as the Revo IKON and PURE Sensia), so it’s an understandable move.  Also, the mobbler team are keen to point out that whilst the older mobbler versions will currently still work (for those streams that were available to non-paying customers in the first place), it’s a situation that may not last forever.  On the other hand, £3 per month is a lot less than Spotify, so may be more acceptable if you don’t need to specify exactly what you want to listen to (and of course, most Symbian devices still have plenty of capacity for you to carry around a fairly large music collection anyway).

    Head to the mobbler Beta Testing webpage for more information on the beta test.


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    Last.fm planning station changes

    Monday, November 1st, 2010

    Last.fm have announced that as from November 17th there will be some changes to the stations available for users.  The detail of the major changes is here, although the key changes seem to be the removal of the Loved Tracks Radio, some playlists, and the Personal Tag Radio.  However, not all is lost, as Last.fm have already announced that for certain platforms there will be a new Mix Radio option, which comprises brand new tracks, tracks you haven’t scrobbled but are from artists you know, and the rest are tracks you already know.

    Although a fairly minor change, it will be interesting to see how these two changes are reflected across the many channels where Last.fm is now available; will we see updated clients for the PURE Sensia, the Revo range of devices (Revo Ikon, Revo AXiS etc.), and of course the third party mobile clients such as those for Symbian (mobbler) and Maemo (the Vagalume author has already stated he is preparing a new version of the client to handle the station changes).

    As with many things, integrating someone else’s service into your hardware (or developing a software client) is not that difficult, but keeping it up to date months and years after the original purchase is what’s important to consumers, so I will be keeping a good eye out for whether manufacturers step up to support these changes.


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    Revo announce new colour touchscreen DAB radio

    Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

    After the successful launch of the Revo Ikon (released last year), Revo have now added another touchscreen DAB radio to their portfolio, and have released this unit as the first “under £200 colour touchscreen digital radio with multi-format reception”. What does that really mean? It means DAB radio (and DAB+), FM radio, Internet radio, ability to play Last.fm music streams, ability to play music from a PC, ability to play music from an iPhone / iPod attached via it’s dock, and if that’s not enough, it’s got an AUX socket and stereo RCA sockets for piping other music to the device.

    The radio features a 3.5″ TFT colour touchscreen, with a similar user interface as that used on the Revo Ikon, and has an 8W amplifier and NXT’s Balanced Radiator loudspeaker technology.

    I like the range of technologies that Revo put into their DAB radios, and expanded their touchscreen range makes sense, especially by introducing a cheaper device (although with a less powerful amplifier and it appears to not have the stereo speakers of the Revo Ikon).  As with the Revo Ikon and the PURE Sensia, the device only comes with a limited trial subscription to Last.fm (in this case, 31 days), so to continue to use the streaming facilities you’ll need to pay £3 per month.

    The Revo AXiS will be available from 1st October 2010, and be sold at £199.95.


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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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    mobbler announce new update

    Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

    mobbler Screenshot

    mobbler, the very popular Symbian Last.fm client has moved from version 0.09(265) to version 1.09(265), and is now Symbian Signed (and will be available from the Ovi Store very soon).  Although only a minor feature update, the move to Symbian Signed and being part of the Ovi Store is a major move for mobbler.

    The feature differences with this new version are:

    • Set the album art of the current song as your phone’s wallpaper
    • Opening the browser is no longer embedded

    If you hadn’t seen the new v0.09 version, it added the following features (with the first item a nice feature to help minimise data allowance) :

    • If you’re listening to the radio, but you have a track on your device, Mobbler will now play the track on your device instead of streaming it to save you some bandwidth and battery. You will get a little hard disk icon in the bottom left of the album art if this happens.
    • We can now fetch and show lyrics of the current track from Lyricsfly.com
    • You can now add and remove track, album, and artist tags on the current track and also from the list views
    • We now show if you have loved a track before
    • We now show if the artist you are listening to is touring. You will get a red banner on the top right of the album art. On S60 5th Edition you’ll be able to click the banner to view the events.
    • Remember the last searched for track, album, artist, tag
    • Bug fixes

    This new version has another logo change; the v1 logo loses the “crazy paving” background effect.  mobbler intend to continue releasing versions under the Symbian Signed process, but will still supply beta releases as self-signed versions.


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    A week of Nokia firmware updates

    Thursday, January 14th, 2010

    Nokia N900

    Just like buses, you wait for ages and then two come along together…

    It’s been a bit of a week for firmware updates, and many recent devices have seen updates this week.  The Nokia E72 has now got the v22 firmware, The Nokia N86 gets v21, and the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic gets v40.  Each of these offers improvements for the device, and are worthy of investigation if you own these devices.  Of course, the operator-specific branded firmwares will take a little longer to be released.

    For example, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic changelog includes:

    • Additional Kinetic Scrolling
    • Changed UI in the homescreen similar to the 5530XM
    • Updated Nokia Messaging
    • OVI Contacts pre-installed
    • New screen alarm when locked
    • Keyboard updated: when in vertical mode it’s alpha-numeric, if you turn your phone to landscape mode, it automatically changes to full qwerty
    • Keyboard updated: when you press a “key” the key that appears on top is now bigger
    • Software updater is now updated and has some more options
    • When phone key lock is on and you receive a call you see a slide to unlock and a slide to answer bar

    However, the Maemo based Nokia N900 has had an even better week…

    Earlier in the week, a small minor firmware update was released, which allowed the Ovi Store to become available for the Maemo platform, and then over the next day or so, the PR1.1 first major firmware release will start appearing on devices for applying.  This brings many little minor fixes to the platform, many of which were reported via the Maemo bug tracker direct to the developers, but probably the single biggest bugfix that is directly relevant to the UK is that 3UK SIMs are now supported by this firmware update.  So, if you have a 3UK SIM you want to use with a Nokia N900, then apply this update (2.2009.51-1) and then you should no longer suffer from “SIM card rejected” messages.

    If you are yet to buy a Nokia N900, and have been put off by the high SIM-free price of the device, then Vodafone have announced they will be selling the phone soon.  There are rumours that stocks are already in store, but sales are being held to prevent it impacting on the launch of the iPhone on Vodafone, but I doubt whether anyone will be swayed from one to the other, as they seem to attract a very different customer.  Either way, this new firmware will be well worth applying to your Nokia N900 as soon as it’s available for you.

    If you want to access this major update as an OTA (Over The Air) upgrade, you’ll need to apply the more minor upgrade from earlier in the week first, and then shortly afterwards this new firmware should become visible, however, if you use Nokia’s PC based Software Updater, you are able to jump straight to the latest firmware without the intermediate step.

    The only issue with this firmware update is that is does not bring the portrait-mode support that was expected, so it’s likely we’ll see another firmware update for the Nokia N900 in the coming months to address that oft-requested feature; also, MMS is still missing, although there is a third party app providing MMS support if you really need it (see here for more details, and here for another program by the same author which allows a secondary APN to be defined on the device, which is often needed to be able to send MMS).  However, we should point out that Nokia and Maemo are aware that the OTA firmware update will not work if certain other software is installed (especially applications from the extras-devel repository, which is not enabled by default on the Nokia N900).  If you are directed to perform the firmware update via your PC, one option is to turn off this repository, and uninstall any applications installed from it, and see if that fixed the “under-the-covers” software problems.

    If you really want to see a fairly complete list of fixes, then head to the Maemo PR1.1 release information, although be warned, it’s quite technical, and quite long too!

    Finally, if you want to get the latest version of Vagalume (the Maemo Last.fm / Libre.fm client) streaming Last.fm on your Nokia N900, then nokiAAddict has also written up the information on how to achieve this here.

    Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Changelog courtesy of nokiAAddict.


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    Mobbler updated

    Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

    mobbler Screenshot

    Mobbler, the very versatile Last.fm client for Symbian has been updated to v0.08(237).  This now includes the following changes:

    • Open a map in Google Maps (if installed) for an event location
    • Can now view a list of queued scrobbles through the Tools menu, and delete unwanted scrobbles
    • Open a QR Code to let friends download Mobbler
    • Now downloads avatars in shoutboxes
    • Radio now works on Nokia E52 and E72 (disabled equaliser for these devices)
    • mobblerhelper.sis is no longer needed for 3.0 phones
    • Some minor defect fixes

    The first is a nice feature, showing integration amongst different applications, and the second feature, although not something I’ve ever needed, I can see the benefit of.  As mentioned within the list; if you have a S60 3rd Edition (non-FP1 or FP2) phone, and have mobbler installed, you’ll need to uninstall the mobblerhelper application before upgrading to this new version.  If you upgrade with it still installed, you’ll get an error as part of the upgrade, and the new install will fail.

    Although many people have Google Maps installed, it would be nice to see mobbler use the Ovi Maps application which is pretty standard across the Symbian devices, and which recently announced an API allowing other applications to be able to access the data as required, and using Ovi Maps instead may well happen in the future if the mobbler authors are able to organise it.

    Update: It’s now been updated again, and this new version v0.08(241) adds the following two fixes:

    • Non-subscribers can now listen to the radio again (error was made in some tidying up changes)
    • Should no longer get an update error if mobblerhelper is installed

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    Maemo Last.fm client gets an update

    Friday, December 18th, 2009

    Vagalume on Nokia N900

    The Maemo Last.fm client, Vagalume (which also works on a variety of Linux OSes), has been updated to v.0.8.1.  This new version (which has been released for the existing OSes as well as the new Maemo 5 OS), offers a range of new features…

    • Implemented the Last.fm Web Services API v2.0
    • Support for Libre.fm and other Last.fm-compatible services
    • Support for Maemo 5 (Nokia N900)
    • New icon that replaces the classic Vagalume logo
    • New CD case image to place the album cover artwork
    • New feature to stop playback after a given time (“sleep timer”)
    • New menu option to play any user’s tag radio
    • New “Add bookmark” and “Bookmark this radio” menu entries
    • New configuration setting to download free tracks automatically
    • Add {station} keyword to the IM status template
    • Use system-wide Gnome audio settings
    • Mixer support to change the volume in non-Maemo targets
    • Added Polish translation
    • Autocompletion support for combo box entries
    • Make url and email clickable on the about dialog
    • vagalumectl: new commands to show and hide the player window
    • Fix some timeout problems in HTTP requests

    What’s nice to see is support for Libre.fm, which is a similar setup to Last.fm, but designed around Free music, and hence as no subscription to pay.  It uses a very similar API to access the music as Last.fm, so it will be interesting to see whether we start to see other clients, such as the Symbian mobbler client also supporting this site.

    Since the initial v0.8 release, a minor update has already been released which fixes a minor install issue with the Nokia N900, and also falls back to the old Last.fm API should the new one not work.

    For me, it’s nice to see this client not abandoning the elder Nokia Maemo devices, and I hope many other Maemo applications offer continued support for these devices (eg Nokia N800, Nokia N810), which still function perfectly well, even if they can’t run the latest OS.

    If you aren’t seeing Vagalume in the Application Manager on the Nokia N900, then follow Gerry’s advice here to activate the “Maemo Extras” application repository to get access to more applications.


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