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…


Google updates Maps on Android too

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

GMaps Android What's nearby

Last week we covered the news of the new v3.3 for Symbian and Windows Mobile, and today Google has launched v3.3 for Android as well.  However, it’s not quite got the same feature set, with some additional features, and some missing features too.

Firstly, they now have the “What’s Nearby” feature, which lists nearby businesses, and can often provide useful information on cafes and restaurants nearby.  To access this, just long press on the map and tap on the bubble, and look for “What’s nearby?” in the menu.

Secondly, they have added a range of Labs features (in essence, Beta features that you may want to use to make the program a little better); these include:

  • A scale bar on the map
  • Showing a terrain layer which adds a level of height and the ability to see a shaded relief map
  • Search for popular categories
  • Turn the blue dot into a compass to show which way you are facing when stationary
  • Added Layers support to be able to see Traffic, Satellite mapping, Latitude users, and Transit lines (eg the London Underground)

There’s also a “Report errors in the map”, but that’s definitely US-only, so won’t be available in the UK.  It’s worth noting there is no mention of the star / favourites syncing that comes with the v3.3 on Symbian and Windows Mobile.  It’s not clear whether any other of the Labs features are US-only, but it’s nice to see Google still managing to innovate and provide new features into the products, even if it’s not consistent across their full platform range.


Google Maps improve mobile version

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Google Maps Mobile Starring

Google have improved their Google Maps mobile product by now adding support for syncing of your “Stars”, or favourites.  Both the Windows Mobile and Symbian version have been upgraded to v3.3 this week and now offer to sync these favourites so that they will also appear in Google Maps in your desktop browser.  Of course, on Symbian, Google Maps shares the Location Favourites with Nokia Maps / Ovi Maps, which can also sync to the Ovi browser solution too.  For those who are not using the Ovi Maps browser support, you can now use Google Maps to find favourites and sync them to your phone, as well as having a nice safe backup of the favourites.

Once you have installed the new version, and performed the initial sync, the stars should appear on your Google Maps in your browser.  For me, I had to star a new item for them to appear, but once they appeared, they remained visible irrespective of the zoom level selected.

Obviously, for me, as someone who regularly uses different mobile phones, the ability to have my list of favourites synced from device to device as well as from device to my PC (and any PC I happen to use) is a very useful feature, and one I am already using on a near daily basis, despite the feature only being released in the last few days.  Google have confirmed they will be bringing this same functionality to the other Google Maps Mobile platforms as soon as possible.


New Nokia E75 firmware

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Nokia E75 Red

Nokia have released the first major firmware update for the Nokia E75 (v201).  Weighing in at 153MB, it may never be available using the Over-The-Air option, but is available via PC using NSU.  All About Symbian have said the changelog includes:

  • Ovi Contacts now integrated
  • Facebook, YouTube and MySpace shortcuts in Applications folder
  • N-Gage client updated
  • Calendar speed improvements and synchronisation bug fixes
  • Share online client updated
  • Qwerty keyboard optimisations to increase accuracy
  • Nokia Messaging client updated
  • Contacts speed improvements
  • Web update to next-gen browser, v7.1 – faster, smoother
  • Overall S60 UI speed improvements
  • Quickoffice updated to v5.3, with Office 2007 support (v6.0 Quickoffice Premier is a free upgrade within the app)

Normally I would make a comment here about how the network operator specific firmwares will take longer to be released, but to be honest, the UK networks have shown so little interest in this device, that the majority have been bought SIM-free, and hence are on the generic EURO firmware, where it has been released…


INQ Mini 3G Review

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

INQ Chat & INQ Mini

Well, I’ve had an INQ Mini 3G (courtesy of 3mobilebuzz) for a couple of weeks now, and overall, I’ve been quietly impressed by the phone.  From the automatic importing of Facebook and Skype contacts into the Contacts list, to the fact the phone has support for these Social Networking sites, and Twitter support, and all for less than £50!

Now, let’s be honest, I’m used to smartphones, and there are a number of little things that annoy me with the device; the start up sound can’t be cancelled by pressing a key (as per Nokia devices), and the whole menu system is a little bright and colourful for my taste (and with no theme support, no opportunity to change it either), but these are minor niggles, and certainly don’t detract from the phone.

Supporting Social Networking sites directly in the device, combined with the standard 3UK support of Windows Live Messenger makes this a well supported device, and well worth a look.  I liked the fact the homepage supports 3 widgets (I used weather, world clock and an RSS feed of the BBC website, all options built into the phone), although I have heard some people warn there may be a memory leak, as I’ve heard of people needing to reboot the phone after a long time turned on with widgets in use.  That’s a key issue to me; I rarely turn my phone off, so long term stability is key, and it maybe that a firmware / application update is needed to resolve these issues; hopefully they will be addressed before the INQ Chat ships.

The phone also shipped with Google Mail and Google Maps (v2.3.2; nice!), which was useful for people like me who use Google a lot, and the phone can be used with GooSync to sync data from the likes of Google Calendar too.  Personally, I found the calendar a bit simple when entering new entries, but I suspect most people will use the phone linked to Google or Outlook, and not enter directly onto the device (again, I’ve been spoilt by smartphones offering a decent Calendar app).  In fact, the only thing missing is the Last.fm scrobbling support that the INQ1 had, and it’s still not clear why INQ dropped this function, especially with the likes of Last.fm and Spotify moving more into the mobile space…

Again, a personal point, but it uses miniUSB (not the end of the world, although many manufacturers are moving to microUSB), which is used for both the headphones and charging.  With Bluetooth support for a headset in the car, this isn’t the end of the world, but I’m not a fan of the combined port; let’s hope when INQ move to Android next year we’ll see a dedicated headphone socket on their devices.  Whilst I’m looking at the hardware, I wasn’t a big fan of the way the rear cover clipped on (it did have a release button at the top, which makes it better than the Sony Ericsson T715 I reviewed here), but only just, and I couldn’t find any sight of the other 6 coloured interchangeable backs on the 3Store, so right now you’ll be stuck with the red back).

Let’s be honest, for the price and based on the software on this device; if you are not in the market for a smartphone but want connectivity options to keep upto date with your Social Networking sites, then the INQ Mini 3G should be high on your list of options, if not at the top.  Here at UK Gadgeteer, I’ve covered a number of hints and tips over the last few weeks, and INQ Mobile should be congratulated for providing online support, and being willing to engage with their customers.

When the INQ Chat arrives with the QWERTY keyboard, and GPS, it’ll be interesting to see whether INQ can still compete in the mid-tier marketplace against devices like the Nokia E63

Oh, and finally, a small point, but having performed a master reset of the device to return it, the phone still had all the contacts on it, plus the sign-in details for Skype, so if you ever decide to sell your INQ Mini 3G, be careful about removing all your personal data as well as performing a master reset.


Mobile Fun release Desk Genie

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Desk Genie

This is an innovative desk stand for your phone.  As well as including an 8-in-1 memory card reader, a 2 port USB hub, having a variety of connectors to charge your phone, and running solely off USB power, it also claims to be able to hold any phone in portrait or landscape formats without any additional support!

The Desk Genie is apparently made from a special rubberised material, which is strong enough to hold an phone in portrait or landscape positions, and should even still hold the phone in place when the phone is vibrating, yet should leave no sticky residue on the phone.  For only £15 (+ delivery) this looks an interest device, if only to hold your phone at the right angle for use on your desk, let alone all the additional properties it has.

Mobile Fun do warn that with time the rubbery surface’s ability to hold a phone will fade as dust collects on the surface, but a quick wipe with clean water should restore it back to normal.

As for those mobile phones charging connectors: iPhone, Nokia (both 2mm and 3.5mm), Sony Ericsson, Samsung and LG are all supported, as are the miniUSB and microUSB formats (the latter being the standard connector for many manufacturers moving forward).   This power connector does not use either of the USB ports on the device, although it would appear at first glance that this is a power only connector, so it may not be possible to sync and charge many devices (unless you use Bluetooth to sync between the device and your PC/Mac).

You can see more of the Desk Genie at Mobile Fun.


How to get Facebook Events into your Symbian phone

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Facebook Logo

This article will take two separate techniques, and show how to combine them to get Facebook Events into your Symbian phone.

Firstly, using Sean Bonner’s guide, you can configure Google Calendar to subscribe to your Facebook Events, which will result in your Google Calendar now having an additional calendar which contains these events.

However, we want to get them into our phone.  To achieve this, you’ll need to sign up at GooSync and pay for a premium account.  This then allows you to configure GooSync to synchronise multiple Google Calendars, and you’ll need to include this additional Facebook Events calendar in the sync process.  GooSync costs £20 for 12 months, £30 for 24 months, or £40 for a lifetime subscription.

Then, and finally, you need to use the built in SyncML services within Symbian to point to GooSync (GooSync will lead you through this process) which will then result in the calendars all coming down to your Symbian phone.

Finally, if you want to make the whole process look even smoother on your Symbian phone, invest a few extra pounds for a copy of SBSH Calendar (formally Papyrus), which has built in GooSync support to separate out the multiple calendars into different categories, which will allow you to colour code them too (something we find very useful).

If you don’t want all the hassle and faff of paying and setting up all these different tools just to achieve this single function, then head to an Android phone, as these natively support multiple Google Calendars, allowing you to achieve the same thing for free!


INQ Mini First Looks

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

INQ Chat & INQ Mini

I know INQ will be moving to Android next year, but the INQ Mini and INQ Chat are two key devices for early 2010 for INQ, and from the first looks, this phone may well achieve great things for INQ…

When you turn it on, the homescreen includes access to the Switcher app, which allows you to scroll through the key applications on the phone.  Included on that list, right next to Contacts, are Facebook and Twitter icons, showing the Social Networking aspects of this phone are key to INQ. Not just that, but having inserted a SIM into the phone, there were no lists of access points to choose from (as you would with Nokia’s Symbian) and in fact, the phone seemed to benefit from easy internet access, offering and performing updates in the background.  The level of integration is impressive; the Facebook app will not just download your Contacts from Facebook, but will include their photo and their latest status update direct from within the Contacts app; it can’t bring phone numbers down to the phone, but that’s a licensing limitation by Facebook, not a technical limitation in the phone.

The phone supports 3 widgets on the homescreen, the first two are weather (which needs configuring with a city) and world clock.  Obviously the phone has the normal range of additional 3UK specific applications, which we’ll look at as part of our main review of the phone.

There are many more features of this phone to study before we publish a more detailed review, but on first looks, this phone shows some very impressive features.  At only £60, it’s a bit of a bargain too, with little touches like SyncML support (so sites such as GooSync can be used to sync your Google information to the phone), and with the QWERTY keyboard and GPS support, the INQ Chat should be even better, even with it’s higher price…


Vodafone announces Vodafone 360

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Vodafone 360 H1

What’s Vodafone 360 I hear you ask… Well, it’s a new, revolutionary set of services from Vodafone, which claims to gather up all of your friends, communities, entertainment and personal favourites into one single place.  From the intial press release, it looks like Vodafone is attempting to achieve across a broad range of phones what companies like INQ and LG have attempted with single phone models…

So what does the service comprise, what phones does it work on? Read on…

Firstly, the service is designed to be embedded within the phone, and Vodafone are using the LiMo operating system to help achieve this.  At launch, there is 1 phone, developed by Samsung, which will be labelled as the Vodafone 360 H1, which will support the capabilities natively on the device.  A second device is due from Samsung soon, which will offer customers a range of “colours” and models.

Also, at launch, the service will be pre-loaded on 4 Symbian handsets in Vodafone‘s current phone catalogue, and the full service will be available for download on another 10 Symbian devices.  However, “part or all of the service” will also be available for download onto “over 100 popular phones”.  No word as to whether this is still limited to Symbian phones, or whether it is using Java / mobile web browser technology to allow them to support wider than just Symbian; however, Vodafone have stated they plan to support more handsets (from multiple manufacturers) and operating systems over the coming months.

So, the service itself:

  • The main key element is Vodafone People (and this function will be available across all 100 phone models) automtically syncs all contacts from your phone, Facebook, Windows Live Messenger, and Google Talk.  Soon, that list will be enhanced with Twitter, Hyves and studiVZ (the last two are leading Dutch and German social networks).
  • This address book should also sync with your PC and Mac, although it’s not clear if these platforms will sync with the same internet server, or whether that will be direct to the device (the latter is hinted at).
  • The internet services is said to include “apps, games, music and mapping services”.

Vodafone have stated that “Customers will have integrated contacts, music, photos, and mapping services and can share their favourite music choices and even their physical location, how and when they choose, with their chosen group of friends”.

If all of this is not enough, Vodafone are opening up the website that manages all of this to non-Vodafone users too, to allow the system to be used by all, although you’ll need to be a Vodafone customer to benefit from the mobile side of things.

A little more on the Vodafone 360 H1 (as pictured above); all we know right now is that it has “a 3.5 inch multitouch, high definition OLED screen, 16GB memory, WiFi, a maximum talk time of over 400 minutes (3G) and a 5 megapixel camera.”  It also has integrated GPS, as will the Vodafone 360 M1 to follow, although that has a smaller 3.2 inch TFT screen, 1GB memory, no Wi-Fi, and only a 3 megapixel camera.

However, Andrew Grill from London Calling, has provided info on some of the apps involved, including a Vodafone Mclaren Mercedes application providing news and live telemetry from their F1 cars, and Tube Exits (a popular iPhone app which gives you advice on where to board London Underground trains for the most efficient exit).

Vodafone 360

More information is now available at www.vodafone360.com.  Screenshot courtesy of Andrew Grill.


Nokia announce their move into laptops

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Nokia Booklet 3G

This is the new Nokia Booklet 3G, a small form factor laptop (similar to many other devices, like the Vodafone netbook / Dell Mini units).  This, however, as well as featuring what appears to be a Windows OS, will also include some special features.  Firstly, like some other units, it will have 3G capabilities built in, possibly via a hot-swappable SIM card slot (allowing you to change or remove the SIM with the machine booted up).  It will also have A-GPS facilities for location based services.  Now, let’s remember that other devices, such as the Dell Mini 9 have similar capabilities, so this isn’t yet a unique device.

It will though, ship will access to a number of the Ovi Services, which will make a difference, including Ovi Maps (device widget), Nokia Music Store (including music streaming), Ovi Files (cloud based file storage), and Ovi Suite, allowing syncing with your mobile.

The spec, what little is currently known, looks good on paper: 10″ glass fronted screen, 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 120GB Hard Disk, HDMI port, integrated SD card reader, stereo speakers.

If you want to know more about this device, head over to All About Symbian.  More information is likely to be revealed by Nokia next week at their Nokia World event, where we expect a number of the phones we’ve covered recently to be announced as well.