Category Archives: Mobile Stuff

Review of the Halo screen protector (HD) for the Nexus 4

I’ve had the Halo screen protector (HD) installed on my Nexus 4 for about 2 weeks so far.

Pros:

  • So far it works will with my TPU case, I’ve heard that other protectors don’t work so well with cases.
  • Dry appliance, so you don’t have spray the device with liquid.
  • Nice feel when touching and swiping.
  • 3 protectors in the pack

Cons:

  • The first protector I applied didn’t stick to the screen at all the 2nd one did.
  • The screen protectors don’t seem to have been packaged in a clean environment as the had some does on hem when I unpacked them.
  • The right hand side of the screen protector has come away slightly in the days after the install, however it doesn’t seem to be pulling away more.

Conclusion:
Overall I’m happy with the protector so far, however I think there may be some quality controls issues in the production, so you might have to use more than one of the protectors to get a good install.

Google Voice + Truphone Local Anywhere: A match made in heaven?

Google Voice and Truphone Local Anywhere both look set to have a significant impact on the mobile market. Even though neither have fully launched as of yet, they have managed to generate a fair amount of interest (especially Google Voice).

I believe both these services have a good chance of being successful in their own right, however I think both could complement each other if combined into a product which leverages the unique strengths of the other.

Why Google Voice should integrate with Truphone Local Anywhere

One of the biggest possible constraints to the rollout of Google Voice, in markets besides the US, will probably be the need to integrate with the local PSTN network in each country. Instead of doing all the leg work itself, Google Voice could plug-in to the Truphone MVNO architecture which can offer global PSTN coverage in one fell swoop.

Truphone integration could also enable Google Voice to be less reliant on mobile data connections by utilising Truphone’s sim technology. Google could then market itself as a truly global phone company.

Why Truphone should integrate with Google Voice

Google Voice could really complement the Local Anywhere product, the features added by Voice through the web app would make the product far more compelling as well as provide a unique selling point over other roaming sim providers. The halo effect from integrating with a Google product could also drive a lot more attention to Truphone.

Other companies integrating with Google Voice is not unheard of, for example Gizmo 5 has enabled integration with Google Voice already.

Truphone Local Anywhere

I recently came across a very interesting service called Truphone Local Anywhere. Although it hasn’t launched as yet (supposedly sometime this year), it has the potential to really shake things up in the mobile market.

Essentially the service uses the existing global MVNO<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_virtual_network_operator> infrastructure Truphone received through its acquisition <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/11/truphone_sim4travel/> of Sim4Travel last year, to provide a sim that allows you to have multiple inbound numbers.
These numbers can be in several different countries, for instance you could have number in the UK and France, where ringing either number would call your mobile phone wherever you can get mobile reception with Sim4Travel (which is pretty much anywhere in the world!). The main benefit of this is that people can call you at local rates even if you are abroad, and you don’t have to pay the extortionate roaming rates that traditional mobile carriers charge.
This video gives an overview of the service:
<Insert Video>
However information regarding the details of the service is still a bit sparse, things i’d like know:
Will you be able to interface with the service via SIP(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Session_Initiation_Protocol)? e.g. if I already have a DDI<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_Dial-In> will I be able to forward it to the local anywhere service to answer calls?
Will I be able to get land line numbers for it as well as mobile numbers? Having land line number could save callers a lot of money, potentially allowing people to call your mobile for free (if the land line plan includes free calls to land line numbers)
Will the service support data as well as calls and texts, if so will it enable realistic usage (e.g. being able to by usage in gigabytes) at reasonable cost?
Will it be possible to sign up to contracts (perhaps rolling 30 day contracts) to secure better pricing?
Will there be any integration with the Truphone phone client e.g. could the voip client transparently handover calls to the gsm network when you go out of wifi range?
Will call charges be the same as Sim4Travel? How will the extra inbound numbers be priced, or will that be recouped through call charges?
If you port your number to the service, can you port it back out to another mobile carrier as per normal? e.g. using a PAC code
Could you have more than one number in a specific country e.g. one for personal use and one for business?
Will it be possible to integrate the service with ENUM<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone_Number_Mapping>

Essentially the service uses the existing global MVNO infrastructure Truphone received through its acquisition of Sim4Travel last year, to provide a sim that allows you to have multiple inbound numbers.

These numbers can be in several different countries, for instance you could have a number in the UK and France, where ringing either number would call your mobile phone wherever you can get mobile reception with Sim4Travel (which is pretty much anywhere in the world!). The main benefit of this is that people can call you at local rates even if you are abroad, and you don’t have to pay the extortionate roaming rates that traditional mobile carriers charge.

This video gives an intro to the service:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY_R6yNNlVQ[/youtube]

However information regarding the details of the service is still a bit sparse, things i’d like know:

  • Will you be able to interface with the service via SIP? e.g. if I already have a DDI will I be able to forward it to the local anywhere service to answer calls?
  • Will I be able to get land line numbers for it as well as mobile numbers? Having land line number could save callers a lot of money, potentially allowing people to call your mobile for free (if their land line plan includes free calls to land line numbers)
  • Will the service support data as well as calls and texts, and if so will it enable realistic usage (e.g. being able to buy usage in gigabytes) at reasonable cost?
  • Will it be possible to sign up to contracts (perhaps rolling 30 day contracts) to secure better pricing?
  • Will there be any integration with the Truphone phone client e.g. could the voip client transparently handover calls to the gsm network when you go out of wifi range?
  • Will call charges be the same as Sim4Travel? How will the extra inbound numbers be priced, or will that be recouped through call charges?
  • If you port your number to the service, can you port it back out to another mobile carrier as per normal? e.g. using a PAC code
  • Could you have more than one number in one country e.g. one for personal use and one for business?
  • Will it be possible to integrate the service with ENUM?

Moving from Hotmail to Gmail

Over the last couple of days I have been making the transition from Hotmail to Gmail (using google apps) for my main personal email address.

The main reason I decided to do this, is that i’m planning on getting an Android powered phone in the next couple of months, and the integration between the Android OS and the google applications is a big draw for me. However the extra functionality Gmail has over Hotmail is also appreciated.

Exporting Mail From Hotmail

As far as I know, the only way to export all your mail from Hotmail is to use microsoft outlook connector (you may be able to use the POP access if you store all your mail in your inbox, but I didn’t want to destroy my folder structure to try it).

Outlook connector, as the name suggests, is a plugin that connects outlook (in my case Outlook 2007) to the Hotmail service. It allows you to sync mail (preserving folder structure), contacts and calendar data into Outlook. It will take a while to download all your mail, especially if you have a lot. After it has fully downloaded, I would suggest taking a backup of the data by exporting the entire Hotmail mail box to a .PST file, so if things go pear-shaped you’ve got something to fall back on.

At this point I setup IMAP support for my Gmail account in Outlook (instructions here) and setup labels in Gmail that corresponded to my folders in hotmail. All you need to do then, is to copy the mail from the Hotmail folders to the corresponding IMAP folders (which should have appeared in Outlook after you set them up in Gmail). If you do this though, transfer only small groups of messages at a time, as it takes ages to upload to Gmail, and apparently Gmail limits the number of emails you can upload during a given time period and blocks you out.

Another issue to lookout for, is that Outlook connector has a nasty habit of sometimes incorrectly downloading mail. It will sometimes download blank mail instead of the actual mail in your account, which is incredibly annoying (I think around 30-50 messages of around 3000 emails where blank). I tried re-downloading by deleting my Hotmail account and adding it again, however this seems to make things worse with more blank email being downloaded.

Exporting Contact Information from Hotmail

This was fairly straight forward, you just export your Hotmail contacts in a .csv file (options > more options > Export Contacts), which can then be imported into Google Contact manager.

Conclusions/Lessons Learned

Exporting email from Hotmail to Gmail using the above method took absolutely  ages, if i’d known how long it would take, I would have been very tempted to give up my folder structure, move all my email into the inbox and get gmail to import it all via POP (assuming Hotmail will make the entire inbox available through POP). This would have lost my folder structure, but it would have been a lot quicker, and I wouldn’t have  had the issue of losing some of my email to the Outlook connector blank email problem. Suffice to say even with the loss of some email, i’m very glad to have escaped Hotmail. Gmail is by far the better product, i’m very tempted to upgrade to a payed account in order to get the outlook sync and Postini features.

Another surprising development, was that the data syncing capabilities of Google apps with Windows Mobile 6.1  are far better than that with Hotmail! I will put a post up about that at some point.

The future of the mobile web: Augmented Reality

For a while the mobile web has been perceived to be dead, at least in the sense of customised mobile friendly web pages, which have been rendered mostly irrelevant with the arrival of more and more smartphones with capable browser, that display full web-pages more than satifactorily.

This is probably to a large extent correct (although it will be interesting to see if HTML 5 could lead to an upsurge in mobile targeted web apps), however I still think the concept of a “mobile web” is still entirely valid, i.e. in the sense of a version of the web purely targeted at the mobile user.

The new mobile web will take the form of augmented reality, as demonstrated by a new android app from Layar.

The potential for this is staggering, imagine being able to navigate to your destination with arrows and guides superimposed over the pavement/road itself, having the bus you need to get on being highlighted in your line of view, detecting and highlighting pedestrians who may not be visible when driving at night. The computer games you could develop with this would be immense as well, check out Halting State by Charles Stross for examples on how this could work.

It seems to me that the mobile web isn’t dead, it hasn’t truly been born yet.

Google Voice in the UK

Google voice looks like an awesome service that could be a huge game changer in the UK telecoms market (especially if it was fully integrated into Android), however there seems to be doubt as to wherever the service will ever be rolled out in the UK market. One issue that might pose a problem is that the UK and US telecom operators follow a different billing model.

In the UK we have a “caller pays” model where the cost of the call is charged to the account of person who initates the call. Wherehas in the US the opposite happens: the subsriber pays for calls they receive on their line. This means it would cost google to forward a call on to a UK number, wherehas in the US system the user would pay the costs.

I’m not sure whether the caller pays system would present an insurmountable obstacle to Google Voice arriving in the UK, however if so Google could always leverage some of its huge cash reserves and purchase a mobile network. I realise this is exceedingly unlikely, but there would be several interesting benefits too Google:

  • Direct path to the end-user to deliver web services without having to rely on 3rd party ISP’s
  • Diversified revenue stream from line rental, reducing reliance on advertising
  • Deliver high bandwidth content such as Youtube from servers embeded directly in the mobile network itself

It would be interesting to see what google could do in a carrier role, especially if they took the existing business model and tore it up.

Google Reader on Windows Mobile: Speeed Reader

I have been looking for a decent app for getting Google Reader on Winmo for a while, since i’m not a fan of Google Readers mobile web interface.

I recently came across an app called Speeed Reader, and currently using  v. 0.7.  I really like being able to read my feed through a native interface, its far quicker and more intuitive than the mobile web version.

Unfortunately, the refresh function doesn’t work on my device (HTC Touch Pro) very well, either it crashes out or seems to get caught in a loop so it doesn’t update my reader account with the posts I have read.  Also at the moment it displays all your feeds even if there are no unread items in them, it would be cool to have an option to only see feeds which have unread posts (Like Reader).

Overall, great app with a lot of promise, will be following its progress.