Updates from Nokia World

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Courtesy of Nokia, I’ve been invited to attend Nokia World this year. I’m there already (hopefully!), but full articles are always difficult when mobile, so I’m hoping to still bring major updates from the event, but these will be provided via Twitter (@UKGadgeteer).  If possible, pictures may additionally be available via UK Gadgeteer‘s new Flickr account, with a catch up article covering the main points at a later date.


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3UK clarify tethering options on The One Plan

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

When launched, 3UK were happy that tethering (and Personal Hotspot for Apple users) was included with their All-You-Can-Eat truly unlimited data bundle that comes with the One Plan.  Starting at £25 per month (24 month contract, price depends on selected handset), it was still very good value, given the sheer amount of minutes and texts it also comes with.

Later, when they made the All-You-Can-Eat unlimited data available on their PAYG plans they were again quick to point out that these tariffs did not come with tethering support (although with non-Apple devices it’s more difficult to control, although the mobile networks can spot you using apps like Joikuspot or the built in Mobile WiFi AP in Android).

Most recently, they have now launched The One Plan on a SIM Only basis, with a 1 month rolling contract.  SIM Only contracts are a little strange with the short minimum contract period, and are often treated more like PAYG arrangements by the networks.  So, when it came to whether or not they supported tethering, their initial response was No.  However, within hours of this decision, they confirmed via Twitter (see Ben’s post that’s documented it here) that tethering and Personal Hotspot are supported on the SIM Only One Plan.

This is good news, and a sensible decision, and is certainly a good plan to consider if you are looking to change contracts but don’t need a new phone; with 2,000 cross network minutes, 5,000 texts, 5,000 3UK-3UK minutes and proper unlimited data each month for just £25, it’s also difficult to beat elsewhere.

As always, all 3UK offers are available in the 3Store.


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mobbler updated and in Ovi Store

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

mobbler, the Symbian Last.FM client, has been updated, and is also now available in the Ovi Store.  Due to a limitation in the Symbian Signed process, the version number has now been moved up to v2.1.  The full feature changelog is:

  • 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

For anyone who tried out the Beta which came out last November, then this latest version is very similar, but worth upgrading to.


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Update for LiveView due soon

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

The Sony Ericsson LiveView device (which we first covered here), has proved quite a popular device, both in terms of sales, but also in the number of Android applications that have been written (or enhanced) to support it.  This is, overall, a good position for the device.  However, all is not well, with many users reporting disconnections (and difficulties in re-establishing a connection afterwards).  Sony Ericsson have confirmed that they are investigating these issues, and plan to release a firmware update for the hardware at some point during this month (January) which should resolve many of the problems people have been facing.

Sony Ericsson also produced this list of compatible apps that they have noticed in the Android Marketplace, some of which sound very interesting:

  • Moon Phase Pro: 3D interactive simulation of the moon.
  • LiveView™ HTC Music plug-in: Music plug-in for HTC phones.
  • OI Shopping List: Shop easily with your LiveView™.
  • FakeCall for LiveView™: Trigger sounds and vibration on your Android phone.
  • LiveView™ ContactCall plug-in: Lets you browse contacts and initiate a call.
  • LiveView™ for Cycle Hire: Quickly access and safely access docking station statuses for London’s TfL Barclays Cycle Hire scheme.
  • LiveView™ Weather plug-in: Show current weather forecast in your location.
  • SportyPal: Motivational training tool that gives you a view of your work-out.
  • Launcher plug-in: Display your application icons on the LiveView™.
  • Smart Training: GPS tracker tool, post your training record.
  • Where am I LiveView™ plug-in: Shows a map of your current location.
  • LiveView™ PowerAMP: Control any music player.
  • Gmail for LiveView™: Gmail notifications plug-in that also lets you read the first part of the e-mail.
  • Se-first.com news alert: RSS notifier for Se-first.com
  • Calendar plug-in: Gives you an overview of your calendar and you can scroll and dive into a daily agenda.
  • Twitter icon plug-in: Shows your Twitter icon or a QR-code so that you can spread your Twitter-url.
  • Mode plug-in: Profile manager that lets you switch between silent, vibrate etc.

In fact, I’ve also seen a few early beta versions of other apps that will make it even more appealing, which is good news for the £50 device.  First of all, though, we need to see that updated firmware…

Some information taken from Sony Ericsson.


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TiVo finally going to be available soon

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Virgin Media have this week announced more details of their TiVo plans.  Although the roll out will start in mid-December, for most people you won’t actually get service until early 2011 (it’s not clear whether the rollout is location based, or just limited stocks).  However, I can confirm that although the box will ship with a two tuner capability, it will be enhanced early next year to have a three tuner capability.  Even better for early adopters, this will simply need a software upgrade to enable (ie the hardware is already there), and not an actual hardware upgrade.

The Virgin Media TiVo box will be provided with a dedicated 10mb connection via the fibre network, which will not impact the customer’s own broadband connection, and will not count towards any limits or throttles.  Virgin Media also confirmed:

“The service launches initially with apps from major web brands including catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer, videos from YouTube, shopping from the online marketplace eBay, Tweets from Twitter and photos from sites such as Facebook, and the app line up will expand over the next several months.

The service will be supported by a brand new set-top box offering 1 terabyte of storage – up to 500 hours of standard definition programming – as well as access to 4,600 hours of TV shows, movies and music on demand. In due course, there will also be the facility to set recordings remotely via online and mobile devices.

Featuring cutting edge hardware design, the Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo box will have three tuners [UKG: once the software update comes next year], allowing viewers to record two channels whilst watching a third so recording conflicts become a thing of the past. The future-proofed service will automatically be updated with new features and functionality as they become available.

Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo will begin to roll-out from mid-December. Standard price of £199 [UKG: plus £40 installation charge], plus £26.50 per month [UKG: when taken with a phone line too; else it’s £32.50 per month] for the XL TiVo package which features over 160 channels, an unrivalled TV on demand library and access to all standard HD channels.”

For further information, or to register for interest in getting the new TiVo service, visit: www.virginmedia.com/TiVo.


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Have you tried TrueCaller; what did you think?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

I was browsing the Ovi Store the other day, and I came across an app called TrueCaller.  Having investigated a little, it appears the app has a lot of functionality in common with Socially App, in that it can present Social Networking updates when an incoming call comes into your phone (it “only” supports Facebook and LinkedIN, unlike Socially App which also supports Twitter), and it has some similar call blocking options.  However, that’s not the main purpose of TrueCaller.  If the phone number is not known (ie not stored in your local Contacts), it will head off to the Internet to find out more about the number and present it to you.

In many countries, they use publicly available reverse lookup services to tie the number (often supported landlines only) to a name, and that’s quite impressive.  In the UK they are honest enough to admit that there are no such services (preventing by various laws), and hence there is no automatic service they can deploy, so instead they will at least provide you a rough location based on the STD code (again something I’ve seen Socially App do too).

However, they are slowly rolling out updated clients with support for a function called CalledID+ (currently available for Windows Mobile, iPhone, Symbian and Android, with BlackBerry coming soon).  This takes things to another level, and will crowd source the caller ID service, and allows your phone to access TrueCaller’s central database of people’s addressbooks to see if anyone else recognises the phone number.  Although each person has to select to Opt-In to this facility, I wonder how many of the 500,000 TrueCaller users have done so…

This sounds a very powerful and useful system to have, yet equally there are privacy alarm bells going off in my head that make me wonder whether my own phone numbers are already on this system, and I wonder whether that information is 100% accurate.

What do you think? Have you used TrueCaller? Did you share your addressbook with others? How accurate have you found the crowd sourced data in the UK?  Let us know by leaving us a comment…


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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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Improvements to an O2 Joggler

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Earlier this year, O2 were selling their O2 Joggler units for only £50 (they are still available, but back to the more common £100 price).  Many of us (me included) bought one at that time.  After an initial flurry of enabling telnet (allowing remote network access into the device), and using that access to install some other native apps (Google Maps, Google Calendar, Twitter, Flickr; though that last one never did quite worked properly), many of us either turned them off, sold them, or simply left them doing what they were designed for; running small apps.

However, a small community of users have persevered and actually released a whole range of updates and additional applications for the Joggler.  I’m not aware of many developers stepping up and releasing apps; it’s more the community have worked out how to get other existing apps to work on the devices, or they have worked out ways to tweak the device for better access.

Whilst I was manually installing apps, I heard of a user who was creating a set of scripts called “Pimp my Joggler”, or PMJ.  This took a lot of the hassle out of enabling telnet and installing those apps.  Like many others, having already done the hard work and worked out ways of enabling things, it didn’t offer a great deal extra (especially after Quinten released his script to enable telnet from a USB memory key).

Since then, other users have also joined in, and suddenly there is an impressive tool that’s well worth installing on your O2 Joggler; Plug’n’Pimp.  This doesn’t have a lot of similarities with the early tools, which are still useful, and shouldn’t be dismissed, but what is does offer is an easy way to upgrade and install a couple of really useful applications as well…

It installs from a USB memory key (you put the files in to the root directory, insert the USB key into the USB socket, and power up the Joggler).  Once complete, it will use the built in Messages application to confirm it has been successful (and again for other software updates).  The first nice feature is that you access the Joggler using a web browser to manage this new application.  Once there, you can install a number of new applications:

  • BBC Live player; giving you access to a range of BBC channels to stream live (UK only)
  • A PDF reader
  • Opera Mobile; see more below
  • Squeezebox Server; a version of the home audio media player
  • SqueezePlay; see more below
  • An SWF Manager; to allow a wider range of SWFs files to work on the Joggler

I’ll come back to a couple of those tools in a while.  As well as those, you can install a number of tools onto the Joggler:

  • Driver pack; improved drivers (including a better wireless driver, and adds support for NTFS)
  • Screen Off; a button to turn off the screen
  • Restart; a button to restart the O2 interface
  • Samba support; this allows the Joggler to be able to access Windows / Samba shares over the network

You can also tweak some of the settings of the device (such as Brightness, enabling and disabling auto-dim).  The key reason why I like this app though it that it will check for updates to itself and the various installed applications for you, and allow you to keep everything up to date without needing to constantly be checking around lots of different forums and websites and then manually applying lots of updates to the O2 Joggler.

For me though, two apps have stood out; Opera Mobile and SqueezePlay.  Opera Mobile; yes, a full web browser on the device, which is the one function that everyone was annoyed that it was not included from day one.  Being Opera Mobile, it’s designed for a full touch interface, and has access to a QWERTY keyboard whenever input is required.  You can even turn on advance features like Opera Turbo, to use compression to require less data to access websites.  Opera Mobile also supports a wide range of Opera Widgets, and these all seem to work fine on the Joggler, so there’s a Wikipedia widget included straight away, support for Instant Messaging, even ping.fm, and many more available for download.

Finally, for me, but I appreciate not all, there is SqueezePlay.  For those who have a Slim Devices (now Logitech) Squeezebox, you’ll be well used to the “Squeeze” name.  SqueezePlay is the dekstop audio client of the Squeezebox Server, and uses the same UI as used in the latest generation of Squeeze products.  Once installed, this auto discovered my Squeezebox Server, and immediately had access to all my home audio music.  As it’s the same program, it also supports third party apps and additional plugins to offer even more functions, so there’s a Flickr plugin and even a Facebook client!  As it uses the standard functions, you can extend this even further; I’ve got a map of the world showing the areas of the world in daylight as the screensaver for when in SqueezePlay, which comes from a plugin extension.

With these additional apps installed, my O2 Joggler has received a new lease of life; due to it’s speed, it’s never going to be the main web browser in the house, but with the ability to fit into my whole house audio music system, and the ability to easily access particular websites and snippets of information, it’s suddenly looking a lot more useful.  I’ve not gone as far as to move the Squeezebox Server onto the Joggler itself; but with the ability to access large external USB disks or network shares, this is certainly possible!

For more info on Plug’n’Pimp and many other customisations and tweaks, head over to the Joggler.Info forums, whose users and FAQs provided key information to allow me to install these additional apps.


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Sony Ericsson LiveView

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

I can’t decide if this is a really cool gadget, or completely misses the point.  The new Sony Ericsson LiveView allows you to connect the device to your mobile phone, and access key functions of the phone without actually using the phone itself.

It comes with a wrist strap, so I guess Sony Ericsson’s plan is for you to wear this instead of a watch, and have the ability to access information on your phone as well as having a clock.  It has a 1.3″ 128×128 pixel OLED screen, 4 touch buttons (on the edges of the screen) and 2 real buttons (power & menu), and supports a wide variety of phone functions:

Music player control Play, pause, next, previous track and volume adjustment. Track title display
Social Networking Services Display Facebook™ updates. Display Twitter™ updates
Messaging Display incoming texts. Display RSS feeds
Calls Show phone number for incoming calls. Mute ringer for incoming phone calls. List of missed calls.
Other Calendar reminders. Find your phone. Display time and date.
Connectivity Bluetooth™ technology. Micro USB connector. Bluetooth™ range approximately 10m
Screen 1,3”colour OLED display, 128×128 pixels
Compatibility Compatible with the Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X10, Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X10 mini and Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X10 mini pro and most other brands on Android 2.0 and above. For updated compability chart see www.sonyericsson.com/liveview
Facts 1)2) Size:3.5 x 3.5×1.1cm. Typical consumer battery usage time: 4 days
Availability and versions Available in selected markets from Q4 2010
Colour
  • Black
Standard kit content
  • Sony Ericsson LiveView™
  • Clip
  • Wristband
  • MicroUSB charger
  • User guide

However, instead of the usual “tied to their proprietary OS” nonsense, it appears this device is designed for Sony Ericsson’s Android phones (and more specifically their X10 Android phones); it also needs Android v2.2 or above, so is currently limited to the X10, X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro.

Interestingly, Sony Ericsson will release the LiveView Android App, and have already announced the API which would allow other developers to link into the device via your phone (in fact Sony Ericsson has said the application will be able to notify you of other applications that take advantage of the LiveView APIs).  As a starting point, it will be able to control your music, read texts, see incoming calls, and allow you read your latest Facebook and Twitter news.

Don’t have a Sony Ericsson phone? Sony Ericsson have also stated that the device will also be compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S and the HTC Desire, making it even more interesting…

Due in Q4 (so just in time for Christmas), although with no pricing, it’s not yet clear whether this is a must have gadget or not.


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SociallyApp updated

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Despite being an avid fan of Gravity on Symbian, I also use SociallyApp (a free Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIN / FourSquare client for Symbian) on my phones as it offers access to slightly different functions, and has a couple of advantages.  As such, I was pleasantly surprised to see there was an unannounced v2.05 update available to download from their website (since then, they have announced it).  One key new feature this version brings is a feature within FourSquare; if you move more than 2km from your last recorded position, it offers you the chance to login, and although it lists 3 or 4 obvious choices for login, even if you say yes it still takes you to the standard FourSquare Places page within the client to choose the actual location to checkin.  Although there’s no automatic checkin option, it is a nice feature to remind you to checkin without being too intrusive.

I also note for those who don’t want it (I know I turn off many of the Desktop Alerts as, with more than a handful of followers, it becomes too much to keep a track of), there is an option within the Settings to turn it off.

If you are looking for a free Twitter client, then I find the regular updates to SociallyApp to make it a worthwhile contender to Gravity, although Gravity is still a better all round twitter client (covering functions such as twitter lists which seem missing completely from SociallyApp.  Even with Gravity, it’s worth considering running SociallyApp alongside it (maybe set to not auto update) for features such as copying Facebook photos to the local Contacts addressbook, copying Facebook birthdays into the local calendar, and the ability to display the most recent Social Networking update by the individual when they call (and on some phones the latest version can also provide a full screen picture of the caller, which is a nice touch).

It’s also nice to report it’s well designed to work with both portrait and landscape devices, and can even use the GPS for FourSquare on S60 3rd Edition FP1 (something that Gravity can only do from FP2 onwards).

If you’ve not tried it, then head to m.sociallyapp.com from your phone and download the new version.


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