Nokia release beta update to Ovi Maps

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Nokia Maps 3.0 with Ovi

Nokia have released, via the Nokia Beta Labs, an update to the Free Ovi Maps solution, now at v3.04.  The new features are:

  • Improved positioning speed and accuracy
  • Map zooming with faster speed
  • Improved search for cities with zoom out to city level

This is good to see, and if you want to try it out (remember it’s a beta version, so may not be perfect), then head over to the Nokia Beta Labs to download this new version.  If you think your device (whether S60 3rd Edition FP2 or S60 5th Edition) is not supported, it’s worth trying one of the other similar models (within the same OS group); eg if you are using a Nokia N86 or Nokia E75, then try the 3rd Edition FP2 version even though your model is not explicitly listed; strangely some people seem to have had success with this method, and others not, so it’s not clear whether or not other devices of the same OS (other than the original 10 or so Nokia announced) can access this software or not.

One word of warning; if you are using a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, you need at least v31 firmware, which is still not available for some Orange models and all 3UK Nokia 5800 XpressMusic devices, and this despite 3UK giving assurances last month that they were working at fast as possible to get this update out to their users.

Now, about all those of us with S60 3rd Edition FP1 devices; Nokia released a statement (via a Q&A session) about supporting existing and elder devices with the Free Ovi Maps service.  They said they were working to extend the compatibility to other current devices (although I believe they meant FP2 devices), and from now on, all GPS enabled devices will be supported with Free Ovi Maps, but could not give any timelines or guarantees over elder devices; although a ray of hope was that their exact comment was “We can’t say when it will be available”, which seems to imply there is still a chance it will happen.

What I can say is that the Beta of v3.04 isn’t available in an FP1 version, so it’s fair to say it’s going to be a while longer before it comes out, if it ever does…


Orange & T-Mobile merger to benefit 3UK?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

3 logo

INQ £15 Texter 18month contract

The Guardian has covered some of the business information behind the merger between Orange and T-Mobile (here), but it’s the interesting possibilities that caught my attention…

Firstly, and a real winner for 3UK, is that as part of the merger, the combined company will give up, and pass over to 3UK, 3000 more mast sites, which will increase their planned total for this year to reach 16,000 mast sites.

Also, Orange and T-Mobile will have to give up one quarter of their spectrum in the 1800MHz range.  Now, wouldn’t it be interesting if 3UK bought up this spectrum, and used it to provide a 2G service instead of relying upon Orange to provide that service…

Everything is still being discussed, so these conditions may still change, but it’s good to see that things are progressing, if a little slowly…


3UK confirm the HTC Desire

Friday, February 19th, 2010

HTC Desire

We’ve received confirmation from 3UK that they will also be selling the HTC Desire (along with Orange and T-Mobile who have already announced their plans to sell the phone).  This is good news for 3UK as part of their plans to expand their Android range to over 6 devices by June, although at this stage it’s not clear if they will only be selling the HTC Desire, or whether they will be carrying the HTC Legend too.

As with all other 3UK devices, it will feature Skype on 3 (Free Skype Forever), Email on 3, Free Windows Live Messenger, and will also have the Spotify client installed too.

Although 3UK have only formally stated “Spring 2010”, we understand it should be available in April 2010.


HTC Updates from MWC

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

HTC Legend

HTC have released 2 very exciting Android phones this week; the HTC Legend (above) and the HTC Desire.  HTC have released some information about the devices here, but in summary:

The HTC Legend is made from a single aluminium block, features a 3.2″ AMOLED screen with an optical joystick.

The HTC Desire features a 3.7″ AMOLED screen, 5 megapixel camera, and is, in essence, very similar to the Google Nexus One, although it lacks the dual-mic noise cancelling feature of the Google phone.

One of the new UI features that HTC will add to both devices is the new “HTC Friend Stream that seamlessly aggregates all of your social communication including Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr into one organised flow of updates. This simple aggregation makes it easier than ever to focus on what friends are doing as well as to view the images and links that they share.  In addition to Friend Stream, people can be organised into specific social circles, such as groups of friends, colleagues or any other way that makes sense.”

In terms of availability, the HTC Desire should be available on Orange in April, and on T-Mobile on 26th March.  If you can’t wait for this, T-Mobile have just released the T-Mobile Pulse Mini on PAYG for £99.99, which is a very low price point for an Android device.  When I met up with 3UK a few weeks back, they talked about having the Hero replacement by June, and I do wonder whether they will be carrying the HTC Legend.

In other news, HTC have confirmed that the Android 2.1 update for the Hero will become available in March 2010 (although network operator versions may take a little longer), and have also apparently stated that the HTC Magic will not be receiving this update.  The Hero update will include the new enhanced Sense features mentioned above.


Want to move your existing iPhone to Vodafone?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

iPhone 3GS

Both Orange and Vodafone have made a lot of noise about now selling the iPhone on their networks, but equally, if you already have an iPhone on O2, and want to move to Vodafone, but don’t want to buy a whole new device, there really wasn’t a good option; until now!

Vodafone have now announced their iPhone SIM Only deal, whereby you pay £25 per month, and for that you get:

  • 600 voice minutes
  • “Unlimited” 3000 texts
  • 1GB of data (it’s worth noting this is often only 500MB with most Vodafone contracts)
  • Flexible 30 day agreement
  • 1GB of data via BT Premium OpenZone hotspots too

This is an interesting deal, and brings together the WiFi component of many iPhone contracts without the need to buy a new device.  Although this probably won’t be the first such tariff, it’s nice to see a network saying “hey, bring your existing phone to our network, and we both benefit”.

For more details, head to the Vodafone website to see the details about the iPhone SIM Only deal for yourself.


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 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…


Can you actually get the new Ovi Maps for free?

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Nokia Maps 3.0 with Ovi

When Nokia made Ovi Maps free for a whole range of devices last week, one thing which wasn’t so strongly mentioned was the minimum firmware versions needed for certain devices.  Take the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic for example; although many devices shipped with v11 (and since then Nokia has released v20, v21, v30, v31 and v40 firmwares), you actually need a minimum of v31 to be able to install this latest version of Ovi Maps.

Obviously for anyone with a generic unbranded device, this is easy; a quick firmware check on the device, or using Nokia Software Updater on your Windows PC will soon confirm that there is a v40 firmware, and you can easily install it; but what about the UK network operators?  If you have a branded device, are you in luck?

Well, generally, the good news is yes, you are in luck.  It looks like the majority of UK branded product codes have had v31 released (although none that I checked actually had v40 released yet), so overall, you have a good chance of being able to upgrade the firmware in your phone, and then install the new free to use Ovi Maps.

However, all is not perfect; I did say “the majority”, and I’m sorry to say, the Orange product code for a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Blue edition (the early devices Orange first sold) seems to be stuck on v30, and hence, although fairly up to date, not sufficiently up to date to allow the new Ovi Maps to work.  Ironically, the Black variant, which, being newer, has strangely always faired better for firmware updates seems to have v31 available, so those users are fine.

If my research is correct, that’s a silly situation to be in; depending when you bought your phone determines which colour you have, and with Orange, that can mean the difference between being able to install Ovi Maps or not.  Let’s hope Orange resolve this with some speed given the amount of advertising Nokia is putting behind their new Ovi Maps versions.

However, that’s not the end of the story; it appears 3UK are also stuck on v30, and hence anyone with a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic from 3UK will not be able to run the latest Ovi Maps either.

Obviously, I am not able to check every single colour and operator variant, but I checked over 10 different product codes to write this article; if you have a device from Orange or 3UK that has access to the v31 or v40 firmware (without changing the product code), then please add a comment and let me know the product code (from underneath the battery in the form of 0559360) and what firmware version you have access to…

So, to recap; well done to most UK operators (T-Mobile, O2, Virgin, Vodafone), and not so well done to Orange and 3UK for either not having v31 available, or having a mix of firmware versions.


Orange launch contactless payment credit card

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Contactless Payments

Now, this is a nice bit of integration; get an Orange branded Barclaycard credit card, and not just will you get support for contactless payments, but you’ll also get a range of additional Orange specific features…

  • You are able to keep track of finances via text messages and spending controls
  • You benefit from contactless payments
  • You gain Orange reward points which can be redeemed for other things

Taking each of those points in turn, the functionality on offer looks very interesting (although I’m no financial expert, and a typical  APR of 18.9% might not be the best value out there; oh, and it’s an APR of 29.9% on cash advances)…

Some of the spending controls come from Barclaycard (actually, the reward scheme may come from them too), although whether the full range of text options are available from Barclaycard, I’m not sure.  Either way, the Orange card offers the following:

Automated SMS alerts to keep a tab on spending:

  • Weekly – the balance, limit and credit remaining
  • Monthly – the payment due and payment received

Customer-activated SMS alerts:

  • Customers can set alerts and blocks on card spend online, abroad or for high value transactions,
  • Customers can set a weekly or monthly budget and set alerts when the budget is reached or chose to automatically decline transactions if they exceed the budget

It’s nice to see the ability to be notified of certain transaction types.

Contactless payments is quite a new thing, but starting to take off in London (there are already over 7000 places which will accept contactless payments in London, and another 3000 nationwide).  Given the £10 limit on these payments, many of the places that accept them are food chains, such as EAT, Yo Sushi!, Prêt a Manger and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Should your transaction end up over £10, you can simply use chip’n’pin with the same card.

If you want to know where you can use such a card, then Visa have a map here which can show you, however, you can only search on a company, type of business, or an exact postcode of someone who takes the contactless payment; you can’t enter a postcode and see all people in your local area who accept the card, which seems a little strange.

Finally, the reward scheme seems to offer payout in terms of high street vouchers, discounts on Orange products and purchases in their shop, tickets for events, or the ability to donate to charity.

Also, as a member of the Orange family of services, there is access to your account online.

I like the integration with text alerts, and it shows Orange is added something over and above simply taking a similar card direct from Barclaycard, but as with all financial matters, I’m not qualified to give advice on whether it’s suitable for you…


3UK now supporting twitter by SMS…?

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

3 logo

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

Although nothing has been announced yet, if you go into the Settings page within Twitter, and select Mobile, the UK entry has been updated as:

  • UK: 86444 (Vodafone, Orange, 3 and O2 customers)

Now, this seems to imply that 3UK have joined the other listed networks in providing the ability to send and receive twitter messages and DMs via SMS.  Obviously until it’s formally announced we won’t know the exact limits (eg the number of free SMS you can receive per month, or exactly how the billing of sent SMS will work), but this is a positive move for 3UK, although with their inclusion of free internet on PAYG, and the fact that many of their phones are now shipping with Twitter clients directly may limit how many people truly need such a function, but it’s nice to know it’s coming…

That just leaves T-Mobile who aren’t playing…

Thanks to Liam Green-Hughes who drew my attention to this earlier today.