Archive for August, 2009

Spotify approved by Apple

Friday, August 28th, 2009

apple_iphonespotifyApple has shocked many cynics by allowing the release of the Spotify app for the iPhone which many had thought would be refused. Apple has a history of refusing apps that ‘duplicate iPhone functionality.’ In other words, apps that provide functionality that their own services deliver.

This uncompetitive attitude by Apple had been gaining much attention across the mobile phone community who had been quite critical of their behaviour. As Apple had refused the release of many Google apps that have proved to be very popular on other phones, many had argued that Apple’s attitude was actually reducing the quality of experience for iPhone users who were missing out on these services.

To be able to sell an app in the Apple App Store, or even provide it for free, it must first be approved by Apple. They claim this is so they can ensure that no malicious or bad quality content makes its way onto people’s iPhones, but others believe it is so Apple can prevent their competitors providing alternatives to their own apps.

This is very much the reason many people expected Apple to refuse Spotify, as it will provide a heavy dose of competition to Apple iTunes. While users of iTunes must pay a fee per track, Spotify users will be able to download virtually limitless amounts of music for a fixed monthly fee. The cynics argue that the only reason Apple have allowed the Spotify app, which will pose such a threat to iTunes, is due to the growing awareness of Apple’s control over the App Store and their uncompetitive behaviour in regards to it.

Spotify has grown in popularity since it was released for home computers earlier this year, and although PC users are able to listen to free content (with occasional adverts) this feature will not be available on the iPhone and users who wish to see what all the fuss is about will have to pay the monthly fee.

N900 announcement made by Nokia

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Nokia N900Nokia have come earlier than expected with their official announcement of the N900. The N900 is the latest phone Nokia have lined up in their Nseries of internet tablets. Making a departure from the more familiar Symbian OS usually found on their handsets, Nokia has instead opted for the Linux-based Maemo 5 that is already causing a storm. Nokia has stated that they do not intend to do away with Symbian but that their use of Maemo is merely an effort to cater to different market needs.

The N900 stands out for its multi-tasking capabilities and easily switches between multiple personal computer style desktop screens with the flick of a finger stroke. This is thanks to the new Maemo OS which is based on Debian Linux distribution and could look to be the most powerful operating system available on phones today.

The N900 comes across as a lot smaller than other tablet phone released by Nokia such as the N810, N800 and Nokia 770, and although its weight of 181 grams means it is not the lightest phone about it is certainly one of the lightest devices in the tablet series.

The Linux based OS would be selling point enough for many people but Nokia have not let down in terms of specifications with the N900 being one of the most feature rich phones of today. Using a 600MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor and 256MB RAM with 768MB of virtual memory the N900 is a very speedy phone in terms of its interaction and application use. There is up to 32GB internal memory and the N900 comes with a very nice, feature-rich 5 megapixel camera.

Being an internet tablet with phone capabilities the N900 is designed to be always online. While this can have an exhaustive effect on the battery life it does make for superb connectivity. With HSDPA and Wi-Fi, the N900 can also be used as a tethered modem for a computer. There is a Mozilla based browser on board as well as an email client with support for Microsoft Exchange. The browser also increases internet usability with support for Flash and Web 2.0 services.

The N900 looks like it is going to make huge waves upon its release which Nokia have stated will be around October time. It will probably cost about £450.

N97 Mini and Nokia N900

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

N97 MiniThere has been much talk about a rumoured Nokia N97 that is scaled down in terms of size and some of its specifications. The rumours have been going since back in July when images circulated online showing the N97 next to what appeared to be a smaller N97. Nokia have been fanning the flames of interest by keeping pretty quiet about the whole thing but now new pictures have emerged on a French website that seem to be offering more information about the upcoming N97 Mini.

The website that leaked the new photos has also provided information about possible specifications for the dinky N97 suggesting that the screen will be 3″ and there will be 8 or 16GB of internal memory. The N97 Mini also seems to run on Symbian S60 5th Edition like its older brother. As some of the features will be scaled down compared to the N97 it is expected that the price will also see a reduction and result in the N97 Mini being offered for a much lower amount than the pricier N97. This is going to come as great news for people who were interested in the N97 but not too interested in its price, or even just for people who like their gadgets small in nature.

Nokia N900At the same time more news has emerged about another new Nokia phone that may even overshadow news about the N97 Mini. The Nokia N900 is a new tablet-form phone that will come with the same slide out QWERTY keypad functionality of the N97 and N97 Mini. However, Nokia will be making a departure from Symbian with this phone and instead be using Maemo 5. The N900 is also thought to have a 5 megapixel camera and 32GB memory. Although Nokia have not said much about the N900 so far it does appear to be in its latter stages of development and an official announcement is likely to be made some time soon. With the interest that is already growing around the N900 it could end up being one of the more popular releases of the year.

Nokia announces entry-level touchscreen

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Nokia 5230 BlackNokia have decided to cement their foothold in the touchscreen market further with the announcement of their new 5230. While being a touchscreen handset the 5230 is aimed at the low price bracket, and this is principally achieved by leaving out Wi-Fi support.

The 5230 has many of the features that would not feel out of place on phones like the 5800 XpressMusic, and with so many music oriented features it is a wonder why Nokia did not stamp the 5230 with the XpressMusic label. In comparison to the 5800 though, the 5230 has a lower end camera coming with just 2 megapixels. However this is capable of recording VGA video at 30fps.

The 5230 has a 3.2″ touch sensitive screen which makes use of resistive technology for greater precision. The phone also runs on Symbian S60 5th Edition with a screen resolution of 640 x 360. There is full integration with online services such as YouTube, Facebook and MySpace, as well as a full web browser, email client and support for Microsoft Exchange.

Despite Nokia’s decision to not include the 5230 in the XpressMusic range it still has great support for music playback. The 1320 mAh battery included allows for a whopping 33 hours constant music playback and this can be put to good use with the FM radio and 3.5mm audio jack. If you are not a radio listener you can whack your own music on with space for 16GB with microSD cards.

The 5230 looks like a great choice for someone wanting to get into the touchscreen craze but not wanting to spend loads of cash at the same time. Much of the price reduction seems to come from the decision to leave out Wi-Fi which is a shame in this day and age, but if you can do without it the 5230 looks to be a great choice of phone. The 5230 will be up for sale during Q4 of 2009.

Onyx releases three new phones

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

FlipA relatively small and unknown British mobile phone developer has just tried to entrench itself more firmly in the UK market with the release of three new handsets. The company, Onyx, state that they are trying to fill in the gaps of the British market with their new handsets they have just released, and also with some more announced for the near future.

The three new phones that have just been released, the Flip, the Slider and the Nero, are all dual-sim phones. There are many benefits in using a dual-sim phone including saving money when using multiple tariffs, and also when phoning or texting abroad. It also allows phone users to use the same handset for personal and business calls.

NeroThe Flip is a clamshell design that Onyx claim is aimed at style conscious users but it comes with less features than both the Slider and Nero. The Flip is the more basic of the three but still comes with the benefits of dual-sim functionality.

The Slider is one step up from the Flip, but slightly below the Nero. The Slider is, as the name might suggest, a sliding style designed phone. It comes with email support and a 2 megapixel camera and Onyx state that it is aimed more at music fans due to its music playback abilities.

The Nero is the more feature rich of the three with all the benefits of the other 2, including the dual-sim design, 2 megapixel camera, email and music support but also comes with a touch sensitive screen.

Onyx have stated that while they are optimistic about the impact the phones will have that they have yet more in store. They have just announced that they have another three phones lined up, including one with an 8 megapixel camera, a Windows Mobile device, and an Android phone with 5 megapixel camera. No date has been announced for these last three phones however.

Another Android Smartphone: The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X3

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

sony-ericsson-xperia-x3-rachaelThe XPERIA Experience

Formerly known as the Sony Ericsson Rachael, numerous reports around the web have confirmed that from here on out, it is going to be known as the XPERIA X3 (thank God for the name modification). After the release of the XPERIA X1 back in October of last year, some might be wondering what ever happened to the X2. Well, we’ll tell you right now that you’re mistaken if you’re thinking Sony Ericsson chose to omit it and jump directly to the X3. The truth is that the X2 is actually going to be an upgraded follow-up to the X1. The main difference is that the X3 will no longer be sporting the Windows Mobile operating system (present in the X1 as well as in the X2) and will be the first Android-powered Smartphone in the XPERIA line.

Bye Bye WinMo

A majority of online reviews will show you just how bad a reception Windows Mobile has had (for online communities, at least) over the years. The fact that Sony Ericsson has decided to dump WinMo in exchange for Google’s Android is in itself already a good thing going for the XPERIA X3. This means that X3 future users will no longer experience the sluggish nature of Windows Mobile (complete with recurrent technical hanging), nor will they have to settle with its tired and boring icons and display.

The Android OS promises to change all this and perhaps even revolutionize the entire mobile OS arena altogether. An added bonus is that Sony Ericsson’s own 3D Panel user interface will still be present on the X3. Already this is looking like quite a combination.

Also present on the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X3 are loads of impressive Smartphone features including a 4-inch touch screen display, quad band 2G and dual band 3G compatibility, an 8.1-Megapixel camera with 8 x Digital Zoom, Wi-Fi support, as well as an A-GPS receiver.

The Samsung S9910 Wristwatch Mobile: Bringing Bond Back

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

samsung-s9110-watchphone_1When it comes to mobile phones, this is probably as cool as its going to get. The new Samsung S9910 is one of a few wristwatch mobiles that are manufactured by legitimate telecom companies. The S9910 is marketed as the slimmest wristwatch mobile, perhaps as a direct reply to LG’s GD910. Samsung has brought all our James Bond fantasies to life with this new device that some never believed could exist in real life. However, don’t be too quick to judge the S9910 as a gimmick because we’re telling your right now that it is a legitimate mobile phone – quite a decent one actually.

Spec Sheet

The Samsung S9910 will be sporting a 1.76-inch TFT capacitive display that is fully optimized for touch. It is able to display up to 256K colours and has a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels. It will also be sporting a scratch-resistant surface and will be run by a Flash user interface.

As a mobile phone the S9910 is a dual band GSM device. GPRS (Class 10) and Bluetooth (version 2.1 with A2DP) support will be on board and it will also have a decent 40-Megabyte internal memory. Aside from being able to send SMS and MMS messages, users can also pop emails on the S9910.

Key Absences

Wi-Fi support would be asking for too much. Besides, who would want to surf the web on such a small screen? However, it would have been good if the S9910 had a built-in camera. Or perhaps even 3G support for video conferencing. After all, we already know it is possible to have these features on such a small device as they are both present on the LG GD910.

Once it is released in Q3 of this year, expect the Samsung S9910 to have a tag price of around £390.

Wikipedia app released for iPhone

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

wikiThe non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, owners of Wikipedia, have just launched their very own Wikipedia app on the Apple App Store for iPhone users. Although there are already third-party wiki apps available through the App Store, Wikipedia Mobile is the first and only one to be sanctioned by the foundation.

Wikimedia freely admit that many of the existing apps already do a superlative job, and many of them provide more functionality than their own app which was released yesterday. However, they state that their aim with their own app was to provide speed and simplicity rather than extensive features. This is at least the case for the initial version, although Wikimedia say they are open to new ideas and are willing to implement ideas put forward by users and the general public.

Wikimedia hope that their new app will make searching for information on a phone a great deal easier compared to trawling the internet trying to dig out the details. Wikimedia Mobile users will be able to search through over 3 million entries that have been added to the highly popular Wikipedia website over the years. The app will also have the benefit of saving search history so that entries can be quickly called up at a later date.

Wikipedia has seen a surge in popularity over the past several years and has for many people become their first place of reference when digging out info. The reason for its massive growth is due to its strength, which is also its weakness. Because anyone is free to add or amend entries Wikipedia has quickly grown into a reference source of gargantuan proportions in the space of a few years, but because of this openness it is also prone to inaccuracy and vandalism.

With over 1.5 billion apps downloaded from the Apple App Store since its inception, Wikimedia are confident that they can transfer their internet popularity to the world of mobile phones.

Enhanced Mobile Messaging with the Nokia 6760 Slide

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Nokia-6760-Slide_42329_1Messaging optimization was probably what Nokia had in mind when they were developing the Nokia 6760 Slide. With a built-in QWERTY keyboard, the 6760 Slide is perfect for those who want and need to stay connected wherever they may be. Quick and easy access to your favourite social networking sites as well as full email compatibility on the device will ensure that you remain in touch with your family and friends whenever you’re out and about.

Slider with a Twist

Although it does share the same form factor, it’s not like your typical slider mobile phone. Instead of sliding open upwards, the QWERTY keyboard reveals itself when you push the device with your thumb sideways. While most sliders open vertically, the 6760 gives this form factor a bit of a twist by sliding horizontally. Another difference is that the 6760 gives off a flatter and squarer appearance once the QWERTY keyboard slides out.

With a total weight of 123.9 grams, the 6760 Slide will have the dimensions of 97.5 x 57.9 x 15.5 mm.

Basic Specifications

The Nokia 6760 Slide is a quad band device on the 2G network (GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900) that will also function in the 3G network (HSDPA 2100). The screen will be of the TFT variation and will measure 2.4 Inches. The 6760 Slide will have an internal memory of 128 MB, but you can choose to upgrade this via its microSD slot to up to 8 GB. With a Symbian OS, this device will also be equipped with other handy features such as an FM radio, a GPS receiver, Quick Office, and 3.15-Megapixel camera.

Nokia has confirmed a Q3 release for the 6760 Slide and we are predicting that it will come with a price tag of around £170.

New demonstration of TouchFlo 3D 2.6 from HTC

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

HTC-TouchFLO-3D-Manila2.5-screenshotThere has been much discussion about the upcoming release of Windows Mobile 6.5 that is rumoured to have many drastic changes implemented from previous versions, most noticeably the support for capacitive touchscreens. Amidst all of this, HTC have just released video demonstrations of their new TouchFlo 3D 2.6 interface that they have been developing to work in conjunction with the new WinMo.

While the original TouchFlo has proven to be a popular interface among phone users it has received some criticism for its now outdated design. There had also been calls from HTC fans to bring the much-loved Sense UI to Windows Mobile devices although HTC state they have no plans to do so. Instead they plan to use the philosophy behind the Sense UI as a major inspiration for the new TouchFlo.

Through their experience working with Android HTC have attempted to bring much of the Google OS’ appeal to their own interface, most noticeably in the form of the icons and homescreen which have a very Android feel to them. HTC have also attempted, quite successfully it seems, to integrate the Weather and Calendar tabs into the overall interface. Other additions include new landscape modes for the photo album and also for the album art browser which greatly increase usability.

The UI on display in the videos still seems too sluggish for release but HTC have plenty of time to iron out these problems before the release of Windows Mobile later this year. The public appearance of the new TouchFlo will probably come shortly after this and it is rumoured that HTC are planning the release of the interface on their new HTC Leo handset. There is no official release date for the Leo just yet, although it will probably be released sometime early 2010 which should give HTC enough time to perfect the new TouchFlo.