Skype release update for Symbian^3

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Skype have recently updated their mobile client for Symbian^3.  Version 1.5 (1.5.0.16) only supports the Nokia N8 and the Nokia C7, and this version doesn’t introduce any new features, but it does feature an important problem; the previous client had a habit of crashing when using the client in landscape mode, so it’s well worth an update.  If you aren’t already using v1.5, this was released back in December 2010 and offers Symbian users access to Skype‘s SILK audio codec, as well as an improved user interface, support for multi-part SMS, and addressbook integration for contact search.

Either access the Skype website from your mobile phone, or you can download the client via your computer here.


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Skype and FON working together, but not in the UK

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Skype and FON have announced this week that Skype user can now access the Internet through the Skype Access WiFi option.  Skype Access allows instant internet access via WiFi using the Skype application, where you are charged €0.12 per minute for access via your Skype Credit.  Right now, Skype and FON are providing access for free (until the end of 8th December) through any FON hotspot.  Did I say any? Ah, there’s a small limitation; this access is not available in Japan or the UK, although neither Skype nor FON are giving a reason for this limitation.

However, if you are travelling abroad, then this might be an option worth considering. Of course, if you already have a FON hotspot device, then you can already access these 300,000 FON hotspots around the world for free (and that does include the UK ones too).

I’ve been a fan of both Skype and FON for some time, and it’s nice to see them working together.  However, without UK support, this may not benefit that many people reading this at all.


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Skype release Android update

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Skype have released v1.0.1 of their Android client, which includes a lot of bug fixes and enhancements.  One of the key new features is support for small screen resolutions, so devices like the HTC Wildfire are now supported.  The other updates are:

320*240 and 240*400 screen resolutions are now supported.
Hardware back key is now supported.
Signing out from Skype now exits Skype.
Reduced power consumption in idle mode.
Improved login stability and behavior.
Improved performance with large contact lists.
Reduced application size.
General bug fixes.

There are still a number of known issues, so you are wise to check the Skype for Android webpage, but it’s looking a useful update.  To download, either head to the Skype for Android webpage, or search for Skype in the Android Marketplace.


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Skype for Android finally available

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Of course, if you are a 3UK customer, you’ve may have had access to their Skype on 3 application for some while, and although this works well, and performs many useful functions, it does miss out a few features that the main Skype app features (of course, the Skype on 3 app is free of data charges under the 3UK Skype Free Calls Forever campaign, so should not be overlooked).

However, for those on other networks, or those wanting those few missing functions (like UK SkypeOut calls), but are happy to use up some data allowance instead, then last week Skype finally released their official Skype for Android app.  You need Android v2.1, and there’s a rather large list of compatibility issues and known issues (depending on your phone), but generally, something like the HTC Desire seems to have the best Skype support.

Although it will work on either Wi-Fi or 3G connections, it will only work on Wi-Fi in the US, and head to this page to read more about the compatibility issues.

Either pick it up from the Android Market, or head to Skype‘s Android page here.


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3UK changing their PAYG plans

Monday, September 20th, 2010

3UK have launched a new PAYG plan, offering a variety of features, all for a low price:

Once you have placed your topup credit onto your phone (which naturally brings with it a number of free items such as free Twitter, Skype & Windows Live Messenger), you can then use the credit to buy an addon:

Value

Flexibility

Add-on name All in One 10 All in one 15 All in One 25 3000 texts 300 Three-to-Three 500MB Internet Daily
Price £10 £15 £25 £5 £5 £5 50p
Text Messages 3000 3000 3000 3000
Minutes 100 300 500 300 Three-to-Three
Internet 500(MB) 500(MB) 1GB 500MB 120MB

So, before, adding the topup triggered free 3UK3UK calls, 150MB Internet access and a whole bunch of free text messages, whereas now the topup will only grant you the 150MB of Internet Access, with the 3UK3UK calls and texts only available via the Addons.  Of course, if you topup by £10 and convert that £10 to the All In One 10 Addon, you’ll get 100 cross network minutes, 3000 texts and 500MB of Internet, offering a more rounded range of options.

Although I am generally impressed with these, especially that you can gain internet access along with a range of texts and minutes, I’m intrigued to see there is a new “500MB” option for £5, whereas before “Internet Monthly” (also for £5) would gain you upto 2GB of data over the same 30 day period, and when questioned I couldn’t get a straight answer out of 3UK as to whether the “Internet Monthly” would still be available, or whether they had, in essence, moved the maximum amount of PAYG data from 2GB to 500MB for a month.  Of course, for many using 3UK regularly for data may be better with a contract, which now offers 1GB as standard per month.

However, 3UK did provide an interesting statistic; over two thirds of their PAYG customers do actually use some of their 150MB internet allowance having topped up, with many not using it all up.

All Add-ons last for up to 30 days, and you can use your credit on your PAYG account to buy Add-ons in two ways:

  • Call 444 free from their Three phone and select Buy Add-on Option
  • Go to My3 at Three.co.uk/My3 or on their phone and click on Buy Add-on Option

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3 MiFi – Final Looks

Monday, August 9th, 2010

I’ve already covered many of the key benefits to the new 3 MiFi unit (in my first looks), although I will restate that it’s a joy to use now it’s a single power button to set everything up, and the wireless encryption key being only numbers makes it easier to quote to people to share the connection.  For the full review, click on the full article below.

(more…)


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SIM15 back in 3Store

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

One of the more popular SIM Only packages that 3UK offer, SIM 15, is back available on special offer in the 3Store again.  This offers 300 cross network minutes, 3000 texts, 2000 3UK3UK minutes, 1GB Internet data, free voicemail, Skype and Windows Live Messenger, and all for £15 per month with a 1 month rolling contract.

Of course, the One Plan is still available as another option; at £25 per month it offers 2000 cross network minutes, 5000 texts, 5000 3UK3UK minutes, 1GB Internet data, and the free voicemail, Skype and WLM, and although at first glance it’s offering much more value, it’s also a 12 month contract, which shows how good value the SIM 15 option is if you don’t want to commit to a contract.

As we commented a couple of weeks back, it’s nice to see 3UK formally drop the use of the word “unlimited”, and also nice to see the SIM 15 offering the 1GB Internet data which is common to their higher tariffs, and well worthy of promotion compared to the other networks who are mainly aiming at 500MB as the data limit.


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3UK launch new site and new tariffs

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

3 logo

INQ £15 Texter 18month contract

Yesterday 3UK launched an updated website.  Although this new site has received mixed comments with some people liking it, and others not, there are a couple of things to be said about it.  Firstly, 3UK have kept all the information you need handy, such as coverage checkers.  Secondly, and this won’t be obvious from the site, but internally within the company there were champions requesting (and ultimately succeeding) that the website was not Flash based (and with it the potential to not allow direct links to product pages).  Overall, I’ve had a few visits to the website, and I’m happy with the redesign.

However…

At the same time, 3UK have removed the Mix and Match tariffs and removed the Texter tariffs (and the old Internet Texter tariffs). Now, there is 3 choices:

  • SIM Only remains, offering a 1 month rolling contract for those who already have a phone, or are happy to buy PAYG phones to use with the service.
  • Internet Talker tariffs, all 24 month contracts, all include “unlimited” 500MB Internet, and the standard range of free facilities (Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Twitter) and “unlimited” 3000 3UK3UK minutes per month.  4 tariffs are available, called 100, 300, 500 and 900, which denotes the number of cross network minutes or texts per month available.
  • For an additional £3 or £5 per month (depending on tariff), there are 4 Internet Texter tariffs, which offer the same 100, 300, 500 or 900 cross network minutes per month, but also come with “unlimited” Internet (*), and “unlimited” 3000 texts.

(*) It seems there is an inconsistency on the 3UK website; although both the Internet Texter and Internet Talker tariffs have a headline of “unlimited internet”, when you look at the detail the Internet Texter tariffs are shown as “unlimited internet”, whereas the Internet Talker tariff are shown as “500MB data”.  This either means 3UK has dropped it’s “unlimited” cap from 1Gb to 500MB, or there is a difference between these 2 tariffs of an additional 500MB.  Either way, some clarify is definitely required over how much internet is or isn’t included with these tariffs, and equally why has the limit dropped…

So, if you were after something like a Nokia 6700 Slide, to get it with 300 cross network minutes (24 month contract) will cost you:

  • Internet Talker 300: £10 per month
  • Handset: £6 per month

therefore a total of £16 per month.  To add those “unlimited” 3000 texts as well would cost an additional £5 per month, so the Handset with the Internet Texter 300 tariff would be £21 per month.

On one hand, I have to offer 3UK the greatest support for taking the initiative and including Internet access with every tariff (apart from SIM only), and that can be as little as £10 per month (it looks like this was the plan 3UK were talking to me about a month or so back), however, on the other hand, making all contracts 24 months may backfire for the many people who don’t want to be tied in for that long. I’m also not happy with the lack of clarity over what “unlimited” internet means, and why it’s now dropped from the old 1GB limit to the new 500MB limit (in fact, you’ll actually get your first warning at 400MB, whereas with the old limits your first warning was when you hit 1GB, and you could actually keep going for some while before being charged).

Having said all that; looking at the Internet Talker 300 tariff, it means you could have a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic for £10 per month (24 month contract) a Nokia E71 (Refurbished) for £13 per month (24 month contract), or if you fancy Android an HTC Hero for £19 per month (24 month contract, 2 months Spotify Premium) or even the HTC Desire for £20 per month (24 month contract, 2 months Spotify Premium); that’s an impressive range of handsets at impressive prices as long as you can accept the 24 month contract, and are happy with the 500MB per month data limit.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the majority of the prices I have quoted regarding these new tariffs are the online prices, which have an online exclusive £2 per month reduction over store prices, so to get many of these deals, you will have to visit the 3Store as opposed to going to your local High Street.


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3UK PAYG Updates and more

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

3 logo

INQ £15 Texter 18month contract

A day or two ago, I got a nice SMS from 3UK:

From 3: On Apr 22 some prices change. You still get free texts, internet & 3-to-3 calls. New: free Twitter & 0.facebook.com

It finishes with a 3UK web page for more details.

Wow, I thought; 3UK are just making the existing free twitter browsing permanent, and adding support for the new 0.facebook.com website (which provides a mobile text only interface to Facebook; ie access to news and information, but no photos, keeping the data usage down); what a nice bunch of people, providing these extra services for all their customers.

However, curiosity got the better of me, so off I went to the website to see the finer details of the changes, and boy did I get a shock…

So, here are the full details of the PAYG changes coming next month:

  • Voicemail is no longer free; it is now 15p/minute.
  • Calls to landlines and Mobiles goes up from 20p/minute to 25p/minute.
  • Sending a picture message goes up from 25p each to 30p each.
  • Making International calls from the UK goes up roughly 5p/minute for the majority of countries.
  • Making roaming calls whilst in some countries goes up 4p/minute (Band 0 countries).
  • Receiving calls whilst roaming in some countries goes up 9p/minute (Band 1) or 25p/minute (Band 2).
  • Calls to 084x and 087x numbers increase by 5p/minute, 5p/call, or both.
  • Calls to 090x numbers increase too.

“Some prices change” really doesn’t seem to cover it, and I think 3UK should be making more of these changes before people wonder where all their credit has gone.

I do note that 3UK are promoting both Twitter and 0.facebook.com being free and don’t need a TopUp, which implies (maybe incorrectly), that these, like Skype and Windows Live Messenger, continue to work even if your credit runs out, which is one small positive to come out of all these changes.

In other news, Sylvia Chind has confirmed the following handset information (see here for full details):

This is generally good news for 3UK in terms of their handsets, and it’s unfortunate it’s come at the same time as all these PAYG price increases, but for many 3UK customers, now might be the right time for a new phone, and a move to a contract to soften the impact of these PAYG price changes.


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Is the iPhone about to come to 3UK?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

iPhone 3GS

When I met up with 3UK last month, they were explaining that generally the main reason they take longer to get phones is that as a company they will purchase a much smaller quantity of any particular phone than the larger networks, and hence their requests for stock and customisations will always take second place.  They also commented that in terms of phones like the iPhone, they felt the costs were too high, both to them and to the consumer.  Well, I think this is about to change…

The day before I met 3UK I heard rumours that their Customer Services staff had been saying they would be carrying the iPhone within 3 months, and both that and a direct question on whether 3UK would be stocking the iPhone were, looking back, not actually answered on the night.

This week I’ve heard more Customer Services staff saying the iPhone will come next month (although personally I suspect it’ll be announced in the next month or so, as opposed to being on sale), and 3UK have put out a statement today saying that they don’t have a commercial relationship with Apple, but that they hope to resolve that in 2010.  That post also states that the Nokia E71 was their best selling phone of 2009, but what it doesn’t say is that the HTC Hero, costing £35 per month, is their current best selling phone.  This shows that buyers are willing to spend £35 per month on a 3UK contract, something that may not have been so apparent a year ago when PAYG and £15-£20 per month contracts were much more common.

Combine all these thoughts with statements by 3UK last month that they felt they should advertise their “Coming Soon” phones better and I think the iPhone is going to be announced fairly soon; in my opinion it’s rare for networks to talk about phones before they are pretty much ready.  With the experiences of the HTC Hero, 3UK know their customers will happily pay more for high spec smartphones, and with the comments from their own Customer Services staff I think this all shows it’s coming to the network.

Now, I might be wrong of course, and I suspect it’s possible they’ll only pick up the iPhone 3G, although I suspect they’ll be able to sell the iPhone 3GS too.  I also suspect that if / when a new iPhone 4th Generation model is announced in June / July, it won’t be seen on 3UK for a little longer than the other networks (due to the commercial points in the first paragraph), but we may well see some form of iPhone on sale on 3UK before too long.

Interestingly, unlike some Nokia phones, it appears that people aren’t having problems getting their 3UK SIMs to work in unlocked iPhones, so that bodes well.  Of course, I would expect 3UK to ship it with their own Skype on 3 and Email on 3 solution, which may take a little while to get ready and released into the App Store.  In fact, I wonder if this is the only thing stopping the announcement happening today, hence why 3UK are happy to start talking about the device…


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