A brief rundown of Locale

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Locale

We’ve mentioned Locale for Android a few times before, so we thought we should talk in some more detail about the application, the power it offers, and why, here at UK Gadgeteer where we like integration, it’s caught our attention.

Locale is designed to take actions based on your location (and many other triggers); a typical example is that of selecting a Silent profile when you arrive at a certain location, but Locale offers a lot more than that…

(more…)


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Garmin bring social networking to their SatNav range

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Garmin Nuvi 1690

This is the new Garmin nuvi 1690, which launched a few weeks back in the US, but has now been launched in the UK as well.  The important part of this device is the use of a built in mobile phone connection, allowing it to have a whole range of “connected” services, like those of the TomTom LIVE range.

Garmin are providing the following services over that connection:

  • Instant Traffic information
  • Speed Camera alerts (continually updated apparently)
  • Fuel prices
  • Ciao! Friend Finder (Garmin’s Social Networking application which also features on the nuviphone range)
  • Google Local Search and Telephone Directory
  • Flight Status
  • Weather Forecast
  • Currency Exchange
  • White Pages

There are also two other useful services in the range; Send To GPS allows you to “send” your route direct to your GPS, although we believe this will involve a direct connection between your PC and the SatNav unit.  The other is Panoramio, which will allow you to plan ahead and “conveniently go online to set your sat nav’s destination”.  Little detail exists about this function right now, and even on a UK specific page it mentions this service may not be available everywhere.

Garmin nuLink Traffic

As a device it features a whole raft of standard features; Bluetooth (for Hands Free phonecalls), Lane assistance, photo navigation, Where Am I?, ecoRoute fuel saving routes, and Park Position Recall.  Also, Garmin will preload the device with Pan European maps, and have stated that the online nuLink services will be available in 15 countries (not all services are available in all countries though), which is better than TomTom managed when they launched their LIVE services, which were limited to the country the device was obtained from.

For example, England (sic), France, Spain and Netherlands all offer all the services mentioned, whereas Italy and Belgium offer all but Fuel Prices, and Germany offers all except Fuel Prices, Safety Cameras and Ciao! location sharing.  Some services (although Garmin do not state which) are also available in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.

In terms of Ciao!, Garmin have stated “Ciao!, is a patentpending social network application that links multiple location-centric social networks onto one application, Ciao! currently aggregates information from GyPSii and uLocate’s Buddy beacon social network services. Ciao! is expandable and additional social network partners are expected in the future.”

The device ships with 12 months nuLink services, and will cost €79 per year to renew (no UK pricing released yet); unfortunately Garmin also failed to provide any indicative pricing for the unit either, but this unit is likely to be the first of many well connected devices from Garmin, and appears to be a good move for Garmin, especially in the run up to Christmas.


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lastminute.com move to Ovi Store

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

5800 fonefood

We’ve covered the lastminute.com fonefood widget briefly here and here, but their webruntime widget is now available directly from the Ovi Store.  This is designed for Symbian S60 5th Edition devices, and allows the user to find local places to eat via lastminute.com’s fonefood service; as with many other apps nowadays, it uses the GPS location to filter the results.

However, as with many other problems that we’ve seen with Ovi Store, we were able to search for it, but when we tried to select it, we were told it was no longer available from the Ovi Store.  If you get this, you can still download it directly from m.lastminute.com.


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S60 Google Mobile App

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Google Mobile App for S60

Google have released a new product today called Google Mobile App for S60 Devices, which could be classed as an update for their previous Google Search App, as it combines the functionality of this, with a number of new functions.

Firstly, they have made the Standy Screen key reminder optional, as some people didn’t want or need it there all the time.

They have added lots of new search features, including search history and search suggestions, which enhance the input of search queries, but on top of that, they have added location awareness into the search, such that if you use the My Location feature, it will return results based on your current location, which is a very nice touch.

Finally, it allows easy access to the other Google products, if installed on the device, or if not, will direct the user towards the relevant Google website instead.  To install this application, simply head to http://m.google.com/ from your S60 web browser.

If you find you are having trouble accessing all of these new features, Gerry from nokiAAddict has suggested you may need to set your location (within the Settings) to US, as some features seem missing when set to UK at the moment.


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Google add Voice Search to BlackBerry client

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Google Mobile for BlackBerry

Although not the first Google Mobile client to feature voice searching, Google have now released that functionality for their BlackBerry client too. More importantly, this client also supports British English for the voice searching.  It should work on any BlackBerry running OS/4.2 and above, although it is not currently compatible with the BlackBerry Storm, and of course, cannot be installed if your corporate BlackBerry has been locked such that additional software cannot be added.  It also has the “My Location” functionality built in, allowing you to search by location too.

A little more information available direct from Google here.


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iPhone 3.0 and new hardware?

Friday, March 20th, 2009

iPhone 3G

Apple launched their 3rd generation OS for their devices this week, announcing v3.0, which is suitable for the existing iPod Touchs (both generations) and the iPhones.  This OS update brings a whole range of features which seem to answer many of the small niggling issues that people have complained about; Copy and Paste support, MMS, Global Search, Tethering support (using the device to connect a PC to the internet), better Bluetooth support (including A2DP) and turn-by-turn SatNav capability.

However, it’s not all good news; the MMS functionality is not available on the iPhone v1 (2G), and existing iPod Touch users will have to pay to get this upgrade (as with previous major OS upgrades).  For 2nd Generation iPod Touch users, this OS update will also unlock Bluetooth support.  Also, although the capability of turn-by-turn SatNav is included, it can’t use the existing Google Maps support, so SatNav vendors will have to supply their own maps, which will potentially take up a proportion of the available internal memory.

The tethering support is said to be carrier dependent, so we won’t know until closer to the time whether O2 intend to allow this functionality in the UK.

Analysis of the beta firmware seems to indicate references to new devices, including 1 or maybe even 2 new iPhones, and possibly 2 iPod Touches (one may simply be the existing model with the new OS as standard).  We’ve been hearing rumours of an iPhone Nano, a cutdown device with a smaller screen and possibly some features, such as GPS and even 3G removed, and a new top of the range device is likely to keep hardware sales up, and the obvious features will be a better screen resolution, video capture support via a higher resolution camera and more internal memory.

The general consensus of this update is that it helps to close the gap on those little nuances, however, it’ll be interesting to see how Google’s Android reacts.  Apps like Locale for Android show the true power of that OS, allowing a whole range of actions to be taken based on triggers (entering a location for example); ringtones, volume, wallpaper, even sending tweets to twitter, sending an SMS etc can all be configured; although there are a large number of apps for the iPhone, something that offers automated actions based on triggers is something that’s been prevented by the limited access to the phone to developers so far (and the lack of being able to leave an application running in the background) and would complete the device.


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Google offering voice and location based searches

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Although only available for the iPhone / iPod Touch right now, we suspect these functions will filter out to their other mobile applications in time…

The Google Mobile App for the iPhone has been updated to support two new features.  Firstly, it now supports searching by voice; you just hold the phone to your ear, say what you are looking for, and it will search for you.  You don’t even need to press a particular key to start the search process.

Also, they’ve added Search with My Location for both devices, which will provide a location based specific response to the search.  Obviously for this to work you need to have Location Services enabled on the device, and allow Google Mobile App to be able to access it.

More information direct from Google here, although it should be pointed out it the voice search works best with US accents right now.


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Wi-Fi location positioning systems galore!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

In the last couple of weeks, there have been a number of Wi-Fi location based positioning systems released / renewed or made available in a new form…

Firstly, Google (who have stated one of their goals is to continue to “shrink” the size of the Google Map’s Blue Circle ) is now using Wi-Fi access point information within the “My Location” feature.  With the range of most Wi-Fi access points being much smaller than a single mobile cell, using this information will help pinpoint the location of the user more precisely.  Initially it is limited to major cities around the world, and initially only the newest version of Google Maps for BlackBerry supports the function (an interesting choice given most BlackBerry devices don’t have both GPS and Wi-Fi…)

Providing a Symbian alternative, Skyhook Wireless, have demonstrated their Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS) on Symbian v9.5.  Now, v9.5 is brand new, and is likely to not feature on any new phones until at least mid-2009 at the earliest (although the odd phone may be announced before then), but it’s nice to see this capability coming to Symbian, if only to keep up with Apple here.

Finally, Brightkite, which is a geo-location based social networking site, have added support for Loki into the main website to allow Wi-Fi based positioning to save the user being forced to search and manually enter their location.  Although this does not yet help mobile devices, Loki have an SDK for Maemo (used by the Nokia Internet Tablets) so one would hope a version should be available for that OS soon.

Why all this emphasis on Wi-Fi based positioning when most of the devices under discussion already feature GPS or network coverage?  Two reasons; firstly, however hard they try, location detection within buildings is more difficult and slow, whether that’s GPS or cell ID based, and secondly, as already mentioned, that lower range of an individual Wi-Fi access point allows much closer positioning.  To show the power of what might be available one day, Nokia Research is working on in-building positioning (using Wi-Fi triangulation) to allow the mobile phone user the ability to locate rooms, printers, restaurants etc. within large building campuses.

Although it would seem at first glance we are risking having multiple Wi-Fi positioning systems, all of which will need to survey or be provided accurate information before being useful, we should point out that Loki uses Skyhook behind the scenes.


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New N95 8Gb firmware due soon

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

The new v30 firmware has been released by Nokia for the Nokia N95 8Gb, and it’s available at some Nokia Service Centres, but it’s not yet reached NSU (Nokia Software Updater, ie the user upgrade option).  When it does though, these are the new / changed features it provides:

NEW FEATURES

– Maps 2.0 (e.g. Pedestrian navigation, Traffic info, Multimedia city guides, satellite imagery)
– Full N-Gage
– Nokia Search 4.0 with Google plug-in
– Share on Ovi
– Enablers for “Comes With Music”
– Mosh & Ovi Bookmarks added to Browser

CHANGES/IMPROVEMENTS

– Download! application updated (v 3.1.50)
– New baseline for Startup settings
– New baseline/upgrade to Music Player
– Baseline update for Flashlite3 (improved viewing of sites like YouTube)
– Current consumption improvements (for e.g. WLAN scanning)
– New baseline for VoIP (with significant error corrections)
– General error corrections

Update: There appears to be an N95 v30 *and* an N95 8Gb v30 firmware due out, so all N95 users can rejoice with a similar feature set.

Changelog courtesy of Pasco [via The Symbian Blog]


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Google launch UK specific Search for Nokias

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Google Search on Nokia

Many people have installed the Google Search shortcut, which provides direct access to Google from Nokia Symbian smartphone’s Active Standby screen. Now Google have updated this, and provided localised versions, including a UK specific version which will use google.co.uk as it’s search engine instead of google.com.

If you want to get hold of this version, point your smartphone to m.google.co.uk. Google are also claiming it’s 40% faster too.


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