Are 3UK about to launch a £10 per month contract plan?

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

3 logo

INQ £15 Texter 18month contract

I received some limited information from 3UK yesterday, about a new £10 per month plan.  This is aimed at the many current customers who topup with £10 a month; in essence, 3UK seems to be saying “instead of spending £10 per month on topups, take a £10 per month contract, and this means you won’t need to topup each month, and we’ll even throw in a new phone in the deal”.

Given 3UK‘s current lowest plan is a £12 per month contract, and that’s a promotional rate, it’s not clear whether this will be a promotional tariff or a permanent plan (as permanent as any mobile tariff ever is).  Also, I wouldn’t expect the high end phones such as the Nokia N97 or HTC Hero being available on this plan, but it’s interesting that they are looking at providing a low end tariff.


Mobile World Congress thoughts

Monday, February 15th, 2010

MWC 2010

This post was written in advance of most of the Mobile World Congress 2010 Press Releases and companies announcing new products, so what do I think will be announced across the week of the event…

Firstly, HTC will announce a replacement Android device to replace the Hero, possibly with a QWERTY keyboard too.

Nokia will announce a new top of the range N-Series device to replace the N97, and hopefully not following the trend of the Nokia N96 and the Nokia N97 in not really being a fantastic / perfect device to head up the range.

Nokia will announce at least one new E-Series device, possibly using a form factor not seen within the E-Series range before.

INQ will announce something; either a concept of their Android devices due later this year, or an actual phone, possibly also announcing more operators who will be taking their phones.

Sony Ericsson seem to have already announced a range of new phones:

  • The X10 Mini and the X10 Mini Pro (which adds a QWERTY slider), both Android devices
  • The Vivaz Pro; a QWERTY slider version of the already announced Vivaz, both S60 5th Edition devices and shown below
  • The Aspen, a Windows Mobile device

Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro

The Vivaz will be available in Q1 2010 along with the X10, whereas the X10 Mini, X10 Mini Pro, and the Aspen will all appear in Q2 2010.

The most important thing seems to be that the main mobile companies are back on form, and releasing devices worthy of discussion…


Nokia release more firmware updates

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Nokia N97 Mini

This week Nokia released the v21 firmware for the Nokia N97, and also a v11 firmware for the Nokia N97 Mini.  As always, don’t expect your operator-branded device to be able to download this firmware (it’s currently only available via Nokia Software Updater on your computer) for a few more weeks (at least).  We’re keeping an eye on the firmware status, and will report back with how quickly the UK operators released this version too.

We’ve noticed some operators haven’t been keeping their devices up to date at all recently (hint: it’s Orange); to the extent that for some of their phones, whilst Nokia has released 2 or 3 firmware updates since the middle of last year, Orange customers won’t have seen any of those updates.  This is poor show; if you want to produce custom firmwares, then you need to offer support for your device throughout the life *of the device*, not just the initial sales period, or even just the warranty period of the phone; you need to support it for a lot longer…


Nokia release Custom Dictionary Editor

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Nokia E71

Yes, finally, after all these years… Nokia (well Nokia Beta Labs) have released a Custom Dictionary Editor, which allows you to read, edit and delete the words in the customer dictionary on your phone.  Of course, as with all things Nokia, it’s not that simple, so read on before you head off to install the software…

Firstly, it’s mainly aimed at the latest phones, so devices like the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and the Nokia X6 are fine, and there’s a dedicated version for the Nokia E71 and Nokia E63 which works fine too, but most other devices will struggle in one way or another, and not have the full functionality, which includes…

  • View all the words in your custom dictionary
  • Add new words to it
  • Edit and Delete existing words
  • Export the dictionary as xml file
  • Import words from an xml file
  • Scan text files to import all the words
  • Transfer your dictionary to another phone

Although many devices are generally supported (most S60 3rd Edition and S60 5th Edition devices should be able to run the application, although most S60 3rd Edition FP1 phones will have limited functionality), the best support is limited to the 4 supported phones (even devices like the Nokia N97, Nokia E72 and Nokia E75 are listed as having “minor issues”).

This is a good forward step by Nokia though; many people, myself included, have been annoyed by the lack of edit capability of the dictionary over the years.  One useful piece of advice Nokia have now provided though; the dictionary is limited in size, and, once full, when it adds a word, it deletes the least used word from the dictionary.  This will explain for many why some words disappear over time.

As always, if you want to try it out, head over to the Nokia Beta Labs to see it, and the support for your phone.  Also, if you hadn’t visited the Nokia Beta Labs site recently, you’ll need a Nokia Account (you’ll already have one if you use the Ovi features) to download the application.


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…


Nokia N97 Free Ovi Maps now available

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Nokia N97 Black

If you own a Nokia N97, then you should find that the free Ovi Maps software is now available.  It’s not yet integrated into a firmware update, but instead is available from the built in Software Update tool.  However, you’ll need v20 firmware already installed, so where does the Nokia N97 UK network operator branded versions stand…?

Well, for most UK network operators, they have offered v20 for some time, and hence if you don’t already have the new firmware, you can apply it and then pick up the Ovi Maps update (although you need a fair amount of free space on the C: drive, so if it won’t install, hopefully the v21 firmware which will include the new v3.03 Free Ovi Maps should be out at some point in the next few weeks).

Most.  Not all.  This week, it’s Orange in the doghouse, for still being on v10 firmware, and not yet having made v20 available for their customers.  Nokia have said they are working to ensure v20 is available to all, but yet again, things are complicated by the UK networks.

It’s nice to see the Nokia N97 finally included in the list of supported devices for the Free Navigation Forever campaign from Nokia, but personally, I still want to see Nokia offering it to S60 3rd Edition FP1 devices…


Swim now supports S60 3rd Edition FP2 and 5th Edition

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I’ve covered Swim before, a tool for automating syncs on your Nokia (Symbian) phone.  I use it every day with GooSync to keep my Google Calendar and my local Symbian calendar in sync with each other, but one problem was that Swim only worked on S60 3rd Edition FP1 phones.

Well, the team behind Swim have apparently been working direct with the Symbian Foundation to resolve the issues, which they have managed to do succesfully, so they have now released an updated version with S60 3rd Edition FP2 support (eg Nokia E72) and S60 5th Edition (Nokia N97, Nokia N97 Mini, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic) too.  It should be noted that the updated version only supports these new platforms, and for regular FP1 users, there is no new version at this stage.

This is one of those utilities you really should consider with Symbian, and it’s a shame it’s still not included automatically by Symbian; if, for example, you go and buy an Android phone (especially a Google Experience one), you simply enter your Google details, and your calendar (even multiple claendars, if you are a power user of Goolge Calendar) will be automatically kept up to date with your device with no further intervention by you… it’s these little integration points that make Android so popular at the moment…


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.


Vodafone announce N900 availability

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Nokia N900

Although not the first UK mobile network to provide a statement on the Nokia N900, Vodafone are the first to announce that they will be selling the phone as from January (according to their website).  This is good news for this popular Maemo device, and the word on the street is that the amount of firmware customisation by Vodafone will not be too heavy.

As the phone is still at the “pre-register for updates” stage, Vodafone have not yet released pricing, but it’s likely to be inline with the Nokia N97 and Nokia N97 Mini pricing and tariffs.  It’s also interesting to see the iPhone 3GS is still marked as “Coming Soon”, whereas the Nokia N900 already has a date attached to it.

If you are interested, head over to the Vodafone website and register for updates.

Oh, and the other network? 3UK have already indicated they are unlikely to carry the Nokia N900 as it’s a little bit of a niche device for them…


Mobile VOIP client updates

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Nimbuzz Twitter

It’s been a busy few days.  Firstly, Nimbuzz announced a fairly major upgrade within their client such that they now have much better twitter support within their application (shown above).  The full feature list for this new version includes:

  • Full Twitter client – Timelines, Tweet, DM, Searches, Trends, Profiles and much more!!
  • Kinetic scroll – available for Symbian 5th edition touch screen phones  (e.g. Nokia 5800, Nokia N97, N97 mini, Nokia 5730, Nokia  X6 )
  • Chat History – see all your past conversations
  • Pop-Up notification – for new chats and other events whenever Nimbuzz runs in the background
  • DTMF tones in calls – now you can press 1 in a call
  • NimbuzzOut rate calculator – see the rates for calling to different countries
  • Upgraded UI –  new chat screen layout & contact list layout

Also, NokiAAddict wrote a handy guide to setting up and configuring the Nimbuzz client to support a SIP VOIP account, which may be useful for those trying Nimbuzz for the first time, but want the additional benefit of standard SIP support, and as NokiAAddict are UK based, the guide shows using a UK VOIP provider.  See here for their article.

Then, Skype announced the launch of their Symbian client entering Beta for a select range of handsets (S60 3rd Edition FP1 and FP2, but no S60 5th Edition touch devices at this stage).  This includes:

  • Free Skype-to-Skype calling
  • Call phones with Skype credits or subscription
  • Receive calls on your Online Number
  • Instant Messaging
  • Group conversations
  • File sending and receiving

Now, remember that this Skype client uses the 3G / WiFi connection to actually make the call, Skype are recommending users have an unlimited data contract, and of course, for 3UK users, you will still be better using the slightly more limited Skype for 3 application, as this uses the 3G voice infrastructure for the call, and doesn’t come out of your data allowance.  More information can be found here and the user guide can be found here.

Finally, Truphone have just announced a major design update to their iPhone application.  This new version includes:

  • New look and feel
  • Streamlined sign-up
  • In app guided tour
  • Tru Friends presence
  • Speaker phone support
  • Improved IM and chat with multi-chat switcher
  • Full Twitter integration

Truphone on iPhone

What’s certainly clear is that all these 3 companies are innovating in the mobile space, and offering their customers alternatives to traditional mobile calling plans.