Archive for February, 2010

Get XBL on your Mobile Phone

Friday, February 26th, 2010

XBOX LiveIf you did not catch that, do not worry about it.

XBL refers to Xbox Live, Microsoft’s online network for its Xbox and Xbox 360 line of video game consoles. In Xbox Live, players of the consoles will be able to create an account, assign a name, have an avatar and keep a track record of “Achievements” they have earned while playing games. XBL also allows players to keep a list of online contact and even invite their friends to current running games.

Now, do not be confused with the word Achievements. These are not really achievements that are noteworthy, but simply a checklist of things you can do while playing a game. These achievements earn players “points” that are accumulated over different games. It sounds simple, but some players are known to act as if their point count actually determines their value as a person. It is actually called a gamer score -which is a very misleading term since these folks do not deserve to be called gamers.

Anyway, for a point of reference, points are usually earned for doing certain things expected in a game such as progressing the storyline. While others are just downright silly that you know people only did them to earn the points; such as performing a “Hoedown Throwdown” in the Hannah Montana: the Movie video game (and no that is not a joke -that is a real game).

Going back to the features of XBL for mobile; it has been reported that all the key parts of XBL will be brought over to mobile phones. This means even mobile games such as “Samurai Last Exam Mobile” might get achievements as well (seriously, that is also a real game).

For more information about Xbox Live Game service for the next MS mobile platform, go to Softpedia.

Windows Phone 7 Series: Only for Touch Screens

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Windows Mobile 7The new upcoming Window Phone 7 series will not be available on other mobile phone forms outside of the tradition big-touch screen look that we are used to seeing.

Anyway, according to a recent podcast from ZDnet, the new Microsoft mobile platform will be using three basis chassis types. The first, called the type-1 is a standard smart phone chassis that we see in many touch screen devices. In most cases, it seems fitting that people call this the iPhone mold. It’s a common and well accepted look for smart phones.

The type-2 chassis will certain be a charm for many people. The phone will come with the large touch screen and a slide out QWERTY keyboard. It is perfect for those who prefer BlackBerry type gizmos for typing out long messages and emails. Not much is known about the type-3 chassis, though some believe that the phone will be the standard candy bar format.

Anyway, regardless of the actual phone form used, the WP7 device will be running on a Qualcomm chip. This means that it is mostly likely to be using a Snapdragon 1GHz CPU or even the upcoming dual core version of the processor. Considering how much animations and dynamic elements are present in the user interface, WP7 will certainly need a lot of processing power.

For those who missed the presentation of the Windows Phone 7 series at the Mobile World Congress, the new interface reinvents the concept of using mobile phones. Microsoft’s dev teams have been working on drawing the line between smart phones and computers in order to create a truly unique mobile phone experience. The new mobile platform also features Zune, Bing and Xbox Live Games.

Get more info about the new Windows Phone 7 mobile platform and its chassis variations at Tech Radar.

Future Forecast: Augmented Identity

Friday, February 26th, 2010

RecognizrIf you think that having your picture casually taken by a camera was harmless (short of getting your face Photoshopped, then prepare for a surprise, a new augmented reality application will enable mobile phone users to identify people through digital images.

Now, this new technology is nowhere near as accurate or as reliable as the facial recognition software that is being used by government agencies, and the image databank accessible to the new app is hardly anything worth worrying about. But, provided that you sign in for the optional service, it would be quite easy to be identified through images.

The new app is called Recognizr which uses uploaded images on Facebook as the main source of comparison. While the app does not access the greater scope of the internet, it is quite possible to expand the capabilities to that degree.

Anyway, this app will certainly get a lot people concerned about security and privacy due to the fact that it can easily be used as a tool for stalking and other less than desirable functions.

The developers of this app certainly have a lot to face if ever the function goes commercial. Augmented reality apps already have plenty of security issues since they can be used to identify owners of houses, buildings, and even transportation vehicles.

In any case, this new app comes from Swedish developers, the Astonishing Tribe. While they have not explained why they came up with the app in the first place, we certainly question as to whether people will really accept having this app available to the public. Most folks would certainly want it on their phones, but never to be used on their selves.

If you want to know more about this privacy invading application and would like to see what it can do, go to Pocket Lint.

Quick Look: WP7

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Windows Mobile 7The Windows Phone 7 series just showed up a few days ago at the Mobile World Congress and from what we have seen, we were absolutely blown away. The new mobile platform is beyond anything we ever imagined. And while it might seem like an exaggeration, WP7 is by far, the platform that has the most dynamic user interface we have ever seen.

It literally makes the iPhone OS and Google Android look old and obsolete. Now, this does not immediately mean that the new OS is indeed superior –but that is implying how outstanding the new UI is. If you have not seen the UI, imagine a large page that goes beyond the borders of your display screen. You know that there is more content to be seen on the left or the right due to the bleeding effect on the edges. Moving around is a simple matter of panning left and right to see the content you need.

Each phone feature category gets a specific page. “People” is the contacts page where you get to organize and view messages, social network updates and keep track of your friends. The tiles system serves as custom widgets that can be assigned to specific contacts. Media files are included in the “pictures” and the “music and videos” pages –Zune will also be present, making media management significantly easier.

The “games” page is still lacking content, so far, no games are available for WP7 but it has already been shown that the UI will be supporting Xbox Live Games service. The “office” setting leaves much to be desired, only OneNote and SharePoint are currently shown though it is expected that the rest of the Office mobile suite will be included later on.

Get more information about WP7 and read about the possible hardware for the device on Pocket Lint.

Steve Jobs Says Yes to Playboy, No to iBoobs

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

iBoobsMen all over the world are claiming foul at the apparent double standard that Apple is placing on what apps should be allowed on the iPhone app store and what apps should not.

As we all know, Apple has pretty strict rules about which apps it will allow to be posted and made available online. While they recently eased back on the tightness a few weeks ago, a sudden change of heart from the folks at Apple saw the banishing of over a thousand applications they deemed not suitable for the app store due to the inclusion of malicious and adult content.

At the same time, applications for both Playboy and Sports Illustrated are still allowed by Apple.

Many believe that Steve Jobs has a lot to fix regarding this matter. Applications such as iBoobs offer just as much ‘adult content’ as Playboy yet only iBoobs was taken off the site. Some may argue that the Playboy application offers plenty of content for viewing while the iBoobs application is simply a novelty app that allows users to jiggle virtual breasts.

When asked about Sports Illustrated, it is defended as a “well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well accepted format”. While the rest of the statement holds true, we doubt that “well accepted format” would be an apt term when you look at all the women’s rights lobbying against the sale of both Playboy and Sport Illustrated.

Would Apple have shut down iBoobs had it been a Hugh Hefner product? We certainly doubt it, Apple seems to allow big name companies and developers to keep their wares with small independent app devs are getting a wrong end of the shaft.

In any case, this will not be the first time Apple has faced backlash over its double standards in mobile phone apps.

Read more about Apple and iBoobs on Know Your Mobile.

A Quick Look at SE and Motorola

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini ProSmart phones have been selling pretty well last year. Despite the global economic crisis, people still need to buy mobile phones and while companies such as Motorola and Sony Ericsson have had a tough year, other mobile phone manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung and RIM have been doing well.

Sony Ericsson’s terrible sales performance is off the charts. Earlier this year, it was confirmed that the Japanese Swedish joint venture has lost over 800 million last year. While that is still not enough to bring the company crumbling down, many believe that unless SE is able to turn the tables around this year, they may face even bigger problems. Well, aside from stating the obvious, there is also a small bit of hope for the company.

Just fresh out of the Mobile World Congress are several impressive SE devices that are not only promising, but are pretty marketable devices. The Symbian Vivaz and the Android X10 are two of the best devices for their respective platforms. One big letdown however, was a statement by Bert Nordberg, CEO of Sony Ericsson. In a magazine interview, Motorola ShadowNordberg said that they turned down an offer to make the Google phone –an offer that obviously went to HTC. At a time when SE was not doing well financially, many considered this to be a major decisive mistake.

Motorola on the other hand finished 2009 with a last minute success, the Motorola Milestone. The device is an Android smart phone with a physical QWERTY keyboard; it was released as Motorola DROID outside of the UK. While Motorola’s 2010 lineup is still not clear, there is plenty of that the upcoming Motorola Shadow just might be the next Google phone.

To learn more about the sales performance of mobile phone manufacturers last 2009, go to GSM Arena.

Future Forecast: UK Mobile Network Operators

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

O2 LogoA recent study on the varying speeds of different UK networks on varying functions such as downloading, browsing and similar features has been done in order to assess and compare the differences between each operator’s networks.

While many already know that Vodafone’s 3G networks are very impressive, it is quite interesting to know that they do not offer the fastest direct download speeds. Vodafone excels well when it comes to browsing and others. It is O2 that has the faster download rates.

It is known that O2 has invested about £30 Million into improving its network. This is not as evident as the network is constantly strained and pushed by their many iPhone subscribers. Vodafone on the other hand has been focusing on the improvement of their 3G network last year in preparation of the January 2010 iPhone launch. The result is that many people signed up for Vodafone’s iPhone (over 100,000 in the first week).

Of course, this is all just the tip of the iceberg. While it makes sense to scrutinize the capabilities of Vodafone and O2’s networks, it is an entirely different story for T-Mobile and Orange Mobile UK. It looks like the merger between the two mobile companies will be pushing through and it will not be long before they surpass both O2 and Vodafone in sheer size alone.

Many are already questioning the merger. 3 mobile and Virgin mobile are two mobile virtual network operators that are in danger of getting swept aside by the large-scale merger. This will certainly change the landscape of the mobile industry. So far, no word has been given as to what will happen to the millions of subscribers for the two operators.

Get to know more about the comparative study on O2 and Vodafone at Know Your Mobile.

Apple and Google move aside for Facebook

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

FacebookFacebook just won the award for most innovative company, beating industry giants Google and Apple.

The list is compiled by the “Fast Company” which makes an annual listing of many companies from all over the world. It is a very telling award, as this prestige is not based on profit or sales success, but as the name says: innovation.

Boasting over millions of users and thousands of applications, Facebook has become a critical part of the lifestyle of many individuals and businesses all over the world. Facebook app developers enjoy a tremendous amount of profit and fame from the various ads and pay services they can offer with their products. Games are the cash cows for some dev teams with titles such as “Vampire Wars” and “Mafia Wars” gaining thousands of users each day.

Many people will admit to spending more than an hour of each day being online and going on Facebook. Others spend more than half a day. There are users who constantly check their profile for new updates and status messages. Mobile applications that integrate Facebook generate plenty of success by allowing people to easily access their accounts or upload their media. Even mobile phone manufacturers recognize Facebook, many devices already come with built in applications or integrated functions for the social networking tool.

If, by chance, you have never experienced using Facebook (no kidding, there are people who still do not know what it is), it is a social networking tool that allows users to keep in touch with contacts. Users can post updates, videos, images, and links to favorite sites. Polls and other Facebook-made applications can also be shared. With its easy to use functions and highly social-centric environment, we can expect to see more of Facebook for the next few years.

Read more about Facebook as the most innovative company on the Telegraph UK.

MWC: Lasting Impressions

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

HTC DesireSo it has been over a week since the Mobile World Congress, despite all the amount of new information that has sprouted up since, there are several products from MWC that still linger in our minds. Here’s a quick review of some of the most memorable MWC products we have seen.

Google’s Android operating system will be popping up in several new phones starting this coming March with the launch of HTC and Sony Ericsson’s new smart phones. Leading the lineup is the SE XPERIA X10 and the HTC Desire. Both devices sport 1GHz Snapdragon processors.

The X10 comes with a 4 inch TFT capacitive touch screen while the Desire has a 3.7 inch AMOLED capacitive touch screen. SE will also be launching the X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro (with keyboard) later this year. HTC on the other hand will be following up the Desire with the HTC Legend –the successor to the HTC Hero. The Legend runs on a 600 MHz Qualcomm CPU and has a 3.2 inch AMOLED touch screen and a 5 mega pixel camera.

Samsung will be concentrating on its own mobile platform, the Samsung Bada. The Wave phone, which is the first device to use the Bada OS, will be using a 3.3 inch super AMOLED capacitive touch screen with amazing display quality, a 1GHz processor and a 5 mega pixel camera.

Wrapping up our list of most memorable things from the MWC is Microsoft’s very own “Windows Phone 7” series. The new OS reinvents everything we know about mobile phone. It comes with a user interface that focuses heavily on touch based control –as opposed to previous Windows Mobile OS versions. Expect to see MS’ new platform based on the concept that “the phone is not a PC” by October.

If you missed most of the MWC and need quick list of goodies, go to Tech Radar.

Getting to Know the New Samsung Wave

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Samsung S8500 Wave (3)The Samsung Wave smart phone debuted at the Mobile World Congress held at Barcelona, Spain. Days before the event, Samsung had already built up plenty of buzz for the upcoming device with plenty of print advertisements showing off the new Wave and the Bada mobile platform.

This is the first, full Samsung mobile phone. Both the device and the operating system are proprietary. While little is known about the Bada, it is confirmed to be an open source OS that will be having plenty of application support from many developers.

When Samsung showed off the OS to developers last December, they were able to attract the attention of major companies such as EA. Using the new OS is easy, Samsung has also put its custom TouchWiz user interface which makes everything so cohesive and simple to access.

Hardware wise, the Wave is an impressive self-branded mobile phone. The device runs on a 1GHz Processor which means that it will be able to run apps and load software without much load time and that it will be able to handle decent refresh rates which means that UI animations will run smoothly.

The device comes with 3.3 inch super AMOLED capacitive touch screen. While it is hard to determine what is exactly different with the “super” AMOLED screen, we can say that it is impressively bright and clear. Lastly, the phone comes with a 5 mega pixel camera which can shoot both images and videos.

Overall, it’s a great mobile phone, and it certainly matches Samsung’s goal of creating a smart phone for everyone.  With devices such as the Nexus One, N900 and the Apple iPhone as its main competitors, the next few months will be a crucial time for the Wave.

Read more about Samsung’s new Wave smart phone at Mobile Choice UK.