Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Day With The VF360 Samsung H1

Yesterday, I went to the Vodafone AppStar UK Developer Day, during which I got to use their new Vodafone 360 phone - the Samsung H1. The whole day was spent talking about and developing widgets - using HTML+CSS+Javascript in a Zip file to write an application.

While the H1 appears to support JavaME, it looks like Vodafone is pushing widget development as the primary way to develop for the device. This follows on from Vodafone's Widget platform for Symbian S60 devices and current widgets should run with few if any changes on the H1 (the biggest difference widgets face is the difference in screen size).

Widgets written for the H1 can be sold through the Vodafone 360 service's app store and can also appear in the app stores of Verizon, SOFTBANK and China mobile thanks to the efforts of the "Joint Innovation Lab". JIL have released an SDK for Linux and Windows (with the Mac somewhere in the pipeline). It would be interesting to compare JIL's widget SDK with LiMo's Widget SDK (called BONDI), as the H1 is a LiMo phone.

I didn't make any calls with the phone, so I have no idea about call quality. The thing that impressed me most was the quality of the (touch) screen - which has a surprisingly high resolution of 800x480. No idea if it supports multitouch (if it does, I didn't stumble across anything that used it). One odd screen related thing that was noted during the presentation is that widgets can't switch to landscape mode, at least not easily. They showed Bloomberg's widget (apparently a port of their iPhone app), which does go into landscape mode (I'm guessing through CSS tricks), however the chrome around the widget remains in portrait mode (so it looked a little odd). It's certainly something I'd like to see fixed in the future 

I have an odd feeling that the VF360 Samsung H1 shows us what Samsung's newly announced Bada platform is going to look like - something "flashier" than a featurephone but not quite as powerful as a full blown and more expensive smartphone. The H1 is a LiMo device with a WebKit based browser - we should find out soon if Bada phones are Limo/WebKit combos as well.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Google Voice Search On S60

The Big G have launched a version of their Mobile App for Nokia S60 Symbian devices which includes voice search (in both English and Mandarin),

So far, so good as it seems to work with my cobbled together accent.

You can find out more here or just go to the mobile google home page on your phone to get a link to download.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vodafone Acess Gateway Announced

Vodafone have announced the "Vodafone Access Gateway". As you can probably guess from the name, it's an in home "micro-cell" that transports up to four 3G voice calls over your home broadband connection. No word on 3G data or GSM only phones.

It would be great at my parents house, as Vodafone's signal disappears about 2m inside the house. Less useful for me in up in London, where I get a full strength signal at home.

It will be available July 1st has 3 different prices - £160 one off, £5 a month or free as part of a price plan. No word on if getting it "free" means getting a gateway in lieu of a phone (though I bet it will).

One thing - Vodafone are claiming it's the first of it's kind in Europe. I guess technically it is - but I do recall that BT offered mobile phones that would switch to VOIP in the home. The biggest difference is that the Access Gateway should work with any 3G phone (that's on the Vodafone network) and not a small range of specialized handsets.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A quick look at the 02 Joggler

I had a quick play with an O2 Joggler at an O2 Shop, and I quickly realized that I don't want to spend £149 (or even £49) for it as it has one feature missing and that missing feature is a show stopper - it doesn't have a web browser!

Instead of being a handy "kitchen computer", it's been hobbled into a digital photo frame with a calendar. Until there's an upgrade that includes either a browser or an app store (that has a browser available) I wouldn't bother spending money on it. It's a shame, as it if wasn't for the lack of a web browser it would have had a place in my kitchen.

Hopefully, somebody else will release something in the same form factor (basically, a large internet tablet), but with a browser. Ideally, it would be running either Android or Maemo. Maybe somebody will work out how to hack the Joggler to run Android and or Maemo. I'll have to keep an eye out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Starbucks WiFi Switch

I've just been to the nearest Starbucks - there's now a BT Openzone sign on the wall. A quick WiFi scan with the Nokia shows that T-Mobile is no longer there (even though a T-Mobile sign remains on the door).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Vodafone Find & Go Sat Nav - Why?

I stumbled over Vodafone's Find & Go Sat Nav service when I was looking at the Vodafone Website, and I've got to ask, why would anyone ever use it?

For £5 a month you get turn by turn navigation - but dedicated GPS units can now be had for 50 - 60. It means 2 devices, but the dedicated GPS is probably going to be a better turn by turn navigation experience then your phone.

I use the GPS on my Nokia N95 8GB a lot (I prefer Google Maps over Nokia Maps, but both are free). I've never been in a position where turn by turn would be useful - while walking I just need to know where I am and where I'm going and the screen is too small to make it useful as an in-car GPS (that's what my Garmin nĂ¼vi 710 is for). If for some reason I do want directions on my N95, Google Maps can provide them.

So, like I said at the begining, why would anyone pay Vodafone £5 a month for Find & Go?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BT Openzone Coming To UK Starbucks

According to this BT press release, Openzone is coming to Starbucks in the UK.

No word on what happens to T-Mobile at Starbucks. I can't see why either need exclusive access to Starbucks - the Starbucks closest to me as I write this has already has both, thanks to BT's Wireless Westminster service. Alternatively, this could be a sign of T-Mobile more or less exiting the WiFi access point business in the UK. A quick check of their HotSpots in London had very few non Starbucks locations run by T-Mobile (they did list a lot of Openzone access points, as they have a roaming agreement with Openzone). And one of those T-Mobile HotSpots (at Waterloo Railway Station) appears to directly compete with an Openzone access point (I should go there and confirm).

Strangely, they haven't sent an email about this to Openzone customers - I stumbled across the news while looking for something else.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A 44 Page Mobile Phone Bill

I got my first phone bill since I switched on Google Latitude - it was 44 pages (printed on both sides) long. It seems Latitude makes lots of small connections to the net (2k every couple of minutes), which adds up to a lot of itemized items all charged at 0.

I showed it to family members for the comic effect.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Skype to support SIP

According Mashable, Skype is to start supporting SIP, at least for corporates (no idea if it will be made available to anyone).

So Skype have decided to become less of a toy.

Speaking of toys, I've run into a very odd issue with a USB Soundcard and VOIP apps (ekiga and gizmo) on linux. While the soundcard (soundbox seems a more appropriate term) happily works with most audio apps, it's not working right with these two. Audio output gets heavily distorted - it sounds a lot like what Single Side Band shortwave transmissions sound like through normal AM reception, but with judder. Audio input doesn't seem to work at all (but again it works fine with Audacity and Sound Recorder). I can get ekiga to output OK with some weird PulseAudio routing, but that trick doesn't work at all with gizmo. It's really odd and I haven't found much mention of similar problems on the net. What I have found is usally the voip software blaming the soundcard (even though the soundcard works fine with other apps).

Finally, I finally got the upgrade to Google Voice. Unsurprisingly, it's a lot like GrandCentral, but with a googlely interface.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On Skype Vs GVoice

From the NY Times

“Skype is light years ahead in terms of video, simultaneous chat and voice, and the installed base is huge,” said Ross Sandler, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. “I don’t think they have anything to worry about.”

Other than the whole "not making a profit" thing.

On a side note - I'm still waiting for my GrandCentral to Google Voice upgrade.