Try Spotify Premium for free (for 7 days)

Friday, April 1st, 2011

If you have never used Spotify before, then they are offering a free 7 trial of the top of the range service, Spotify Premium.  One of the main things that this unlocks is the ability to have offline playlists on your mobile phone; although we’ve seen some phones (especially from 3UK) come with Spotify Premium trials or inclusive access, this is one of the first times Spotify have generally made a free trial available.  If you are interested, head over to this web page to request the free trial.

And, no, this is not an April Fools joke!


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INQ Announce new Android devices

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

INQ announced they would be moving to Android many months ago now, but we now have pictures of the first of the two devices that they have now formally announced.  The first is the INQ Cloud Touch, which should be available (exclusively at Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy for a limited period) in April 2011, which is a traditional touch based Android phone (see above).  Planned to be available in Black, Red and White, the INQ Cloud Touch has the following spec:

Software:

  • Android Froyo 2.2 platform
  • Built with a modular approach making upgrade to Gingerbread easy
  • Instant Messaging for WLM, G-Talk and Facebook Chat
  • Free push email across major domains, including Microsoft Exchange
  • Info Key to quick access to key handset functions
  • Fast unlock for quick access to key functions
  • Backup and sync, plus firmware upgrades to later software releases

Hardware:

  • Processor: Qualcomm 7227 chipset, 600MHz
  • Triband HSPA (7.2/ 5.76Mbps), Quadband GSM, EDGE + WiFi
  • Size: 3.5” inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen display with extended 10mm touch strip
  • Memory: 4MB with option to add more
  • 5 MP autofocus camera
  • 1300mAh battery
  • WiFi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, GPS, FM Radio, accelerometer, compass, ambient light and proximity sensors
  • MicroUSB charging, 3.5mm audio jack.
  • Accessories included: 4GB microSD Card, Travel Charger & USB Cable, Stereo Headset, Quick Start Guide

Although not in the name, INQ have continued their long running Social Networking Support and built in some good Facebook integration into the phone; “Facebook comes alive with a homescreen Visual Media Feed for video, pictures, web pages and newsfeed.

There are one-touch links to Facebook Chat, Friends, Messages, Wall and Notifications. Facebook Single Sign On is activated across the phones and people can check in to their favorite shops, restaurants and clubs with Facebook Places, also active on the homescreen. Facebook Events fully integrates with the Google Calendar on both devices.

The phones are the first mobiles to use the Facebook social graph API, making it easy for people to follow updates from the friends they interact with most.”

Also, the phone will come with the Spotify client, with all relevant Spotify features being available to subscribers.

However, the other phone also looks very interesting. The INQ Cloud Q brings together the same software with a touchscreen based Android handset, but it also includes a QWERTY keyboard in the BlackBerry-style widescreen candybar format.  When we had the choice of the INQ Mini or the INQ Chat, many people went for the Chat as it offered all the same facilities, but with the benefit of the QWERTY.  Obviously, the Cloud Q has a different touchscreen to the Cloud Touch, so it’s not as clear which will be more popular, but yet again INQ are introducing a range of less expensive phones with the same facilities as the top end models from other manufacturers.

Photo of INQ Cloud Q courtesy of Mobile Phones Arena.


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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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    3UK now selling HTC Desire HD

    Friday, October 22nd, 2010

    Although I’m not sure it’s actually available today, 3UK are now selling the HTC Desire HD, with orders due to be delivered by the end of next week.  The HTC Desire HD builds on the success of the HTC Desire and adds a 4.3″ touchscreen as well as an 8 megapixel camera supporting HD video recording, plus it’s one of the devices supported at the new HTCsense.com portal.  3UK are selling the HTC Desire HD on the One Plan for £40 per month (24 month contract), bringing 200 cross network minutes, 5000 texts, 5000 3UK3UK minutes and 1GB of Internet, free Voicemail, and an impressive 6 months free Spotify Premium subscription (although the data usage will need to come out of your 1GB allowance if you use it on 3G).

    The HTC Desire HD is also available on lesser plans, eg the Internet Texter 500 plan for £35 per month (24 month contract) giving you 500 cross network minutes, 5000 texts, 5000 3UK3UK minutes, 1GB of Internet, free Voicemail, and just 2 months Spotify Premium subscription.

    Of course, if you can’t afford this, the HTC Desire is still good value from 3UK for about a fiver less per month, or you can even get the HTC Desire on the One Plan for £25 per month (24 month contract) if you go for a refurbished stock item.

    As always, head to the 3Store for more details.


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    HTC Hero – the Good, the Bad (and the Ugly?)

    Monday, July 12th, 2010

    After a good few weeks of using an Android phone for the majority of tasks I perform (except receiving calls), how have I found the phone? Thanks to 3MobileBuzz, I’ve had an HTC Hero on loan, and although not the newest of phones, it’s still interesting to see whether it can handle all my needs.  In fact, just before the phone I wrote down the 30 most important tasks I currently use my Symbian for just to remind me the sorts of applications and tasks I needed the phone to perform.

    So, a small caveat; as the phone came preconfigured with a SIM, Google Account and Spotify Premium account, I haven’t used the phone with my Google Acount (ie Mail, Calendar etc.) and I haven’t used it for receiving calls (as none of my friends know this phone’s number). Finally, as a loan phone, I have limited myself to *free* Android apps.

    The Good – In nearly every task I’ve thrown at it (including a few extra ones), it’s excelled, and the phone has worked well.  Applications have been available to help with the task at hand.  Spotify (in both online and offline mode) proved to be a useful application (although quite why, when you have a track in the local cache, it continues to consume online data I don’t know).  In the majority of tasks I wanted to perform, there was a free app to help out (something that’s not true of Symbian, although it’s close), and in many cases, the best app appeared to be the free app too.  Apps were available to integrate into the phone; although it’s against the T&Cs to export phone numbers from the Facebook site, the Facebook widget was at least able to offer to dial numbers direct for you.  The phone was not too heavy, and easy to use one-handed as well as with two (and not suffering from the way I held the phone 😉  Many options were configurable, or 3rd party tools are available to help achieve a little tweak here or there.

    The Bad – Not every app though performed well; a few have crashed regularly, making it feel a little like when you beta test software; some of the apps that crashed had 1 or 2 updates during the time, yet still continued to crash.  Whether or not this is a result of the phone still being on Android v1.5 I don’t know, but this is at least being fixed (hopefully) this month.  Another thing missing (not that Symbian is any better, but the iPhone is) was that there was little consistency in the UI between the different programs from different authors, and little consistency between the widgets available too.  Also, although everyone berates Symbian for constantly asking you which connection you want to use, there were a few times when I actively wanted to use 3G over Wi-Fi (accessing 3UK‘s Planet 3 website or knowing that I was too far from the Wi-Fi for it to work reliably), and this level of control is not available.

    So, overall, I enjoyed the phone, and the Capacitive screen made me realise what an impact this has on the whole UI, and whether even the newest phones from Nokia which continue with Resistive screens can be as much as a success (of course, the new Nokia N8 is Capacitive).  Having said I enjoyed it, the third party apps crashing regularly did put me off a little.

    The ugly? It may have been this particular phone, but it struggled to hold a connection to my Wi-Fi.  Whenever it lost it (even when in the same room), it brought home that the 3G radio signal was equally awful (The HTC Hero seems to have a reputation for having a poor 3G antenna design especially in poor signal areas), meaning I was often left without net access at home (although in many other areas where the 3G was stronger it performed well).

    Would I buy an Android phone? Yes, but more likely the HTC Desire (also available from 3UK), which offers a later OS version and is more powerful, but I would like to see some improvements in the overall experience.

    Thanks again to 3MobileBuzz for the loan of the phone.


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    Spotify bring Symbian client inline with others

    Monday, June 14th, 2010

    Bringing the Symbian client up to the level of the other major mobile platforms, Spotify have updated their Symbian mobile client to now support the following new features:

    • Support for playing and wirelessly synchronizing local files to your phone
    • The Inbox and Starred features have been added
    • We’ve added support for the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro and Nokia C5 phones

    This version also adds support for the new Spotify Social Features that are proving to be popular with Spotify users. To get the new version, simply head to to m.spotify.com with your Symbian phone.


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    Spotify expand their range of options

    Monday, May 24th, 2010

    Spotify Mobile

    Last week there were two options with Spotify; you could either go for Spotify Free (although you needed an invite in the UK, since it became so popular again when they released their mobile clients), or you paid £10 per month for Spotify Premium.  Spotify have now made things a little easier, and are offering 4 options, depending on exactly what you are after.

    Firstly, there is a new Spotify Open option.  This does not need an invite (and in fact the Spotify Free option remains invite only, but is still available); and has one other key difference with Spotify Free – there is no Spotify Radio Mode, which was very useful if you didn’t know what exactly you wanted to listen to, but need know what sort of music you wanted.  Also, you are limited to 20 hours per month.

    Also, there is a new option, Spotify Unlimited, which sites between Spotify Free and Spotify Premium, yet only costs £5 per month (a price that many said they would be willing to pay when the Spotify Premium originally came out).  It does support the Spotify Radio Mode, and like Spotify Premium is ad-free, and does not have a 14 day limit of accessing Spotify from abroad that the Spotify Free and Spotify Open options have.

    However, if you want to have access to Spotify music when offline, or play Spotify music on your mobile (whether online or offline), listen to Spotify’s exclusive content, or benefit from enhanced music quality, then you’ll still need to take out the Spotify Premium subscription.

    Having a greater range of options is a good thing, and many people may decide the £5 per month is a price worth paying for online access to a very large (though not yet complete) catalogue of music.

    Some useful pieces of information;

    • If you have Spotify Free, and you buy a subscription to Spotify Unlimited or Spotify Premium, then if you let your subscription lapse, you will return to Spotify Free, not the newer Spotify Open.
    • You can no longer buy a day-pass, but for just a little more you can now get a whole month worth of Spotify Unlimited.  Technically you’ll sign up to recurring payments, but if you cancel before the end of that month, you’ll only pay for the single month, as there is no long term tie-in contract.  You will obviously continue to get the higher level of service until the end of the month; so you could pay and cancel the next day, but still benefit from a months’ worth of service.

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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 and Spotify Premium trial

    Thursday, April 1st, 2010

    Spotify Mobile

    If you are a 3UK user, and you want to try out a trial of Spotify Premium, then you may be in luck.  Although little information is available (at the time of writing), it appears that from tomorrow (2nd April), you will be able to organise a 1 month trial of Spotify Premium through 3UK, based on the brief information I received today:

    “Starting April 2nd you can try Spotify Premium for free for 1 month. Just text “Spotify” to 39000 from your 3 phone.”

    Along with the information came a link to here, which did not (when I accessed it) have the option for a free trial, but if you keep an eye on it, it may well soon have more information, although I believe to actually activate the trial you will still need to text 3UK from your phone.

    Update: 3UK also inform me that from today, if you buy a Sony Ericsson X10 (just launched today on 3UK) or Sony Ericsson Vivaz, they will be providing 2 months of free Spotify Premium access, which will then (unless cancelled) continue to be charged at £9.99 per month to the mobile bill.


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