DigitalOutbox Episode 78

DigitalOutbox Episode 78
In this episode the team discuss Apple and Googles Subscription battle, the HTC Flyer and Plex for Windows.

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
1:00 – Android Market Share
– So last time we said Android was popular
– According to a chart making the rounds from UK-based research firm IHS, Android Market revenues in 2010 came in at an estimated $102 million, up from $11 million the year before.
– And how did that compare to revenues from Apple’s App Store? Apple App Store revenues came in at an estimated $1.7 billion in 2010, almost 20 times bigger than Android. And Apple App Store revenue grew at a not-too-shabby 131.9 percent rate.
– More importantly, Apple accounts for 83 percent of the total estimated app store revenues.
– iOS also dominates Euro smartphone usage
– http://www.reghardware.com/2011/02/21/uk_europe_smartphone_usage/
– In the UK, Apple and Research in Motion are the two key smartphone players, each battling the other, with one’s rise accompanies by the other’s fall, oscillating about a line at 42 per cent.
– These numbers broadly mirror over-the-counter sales.
– Android usage is growing here too, but it’s still below 15 per cent and has only just begun to get clear space ahead of its nearest rivals. But it is rising, and that will push down the line over which iOS and BlackBerry are fighting.
5:39 – Microsoft Update Goes Awry
– MS started to roll out their first update for Win MO FO 7 – then had to stop
– It was at best causing problems, at worst, bricking samsung handsets with slightly older firmware….
– oooooppppssss.
8:59 – Apple Launches Subscriptions for Content Publishers on the App Store
– When Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing. We’ve pasted the release below.
– Apple also says that if publishers are selling a digital subscription outside of the app, that same subscription offer must be made available, at the same price or less, to App Store customers (which we had previously reported). In addition, publishers may no longer provide links within their apps that would allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.
– So in app subscriptions now offered from within Apps and managed easily from within iTunes. Easy for consumers, easy for publishers to offer
– Apple betting that publishers will be willing to pay the 30% in return for Apple dealing with customers and payments and the customer base/ease of use that iOS brings
– So this impact Amazon, Book, Magazine and Newspaper publishers. So Guardian will be affected as will The Times etc. Also impacts on streaming music services – Rhapsody, Last.fm, Spotify. What about Netflix and Hulu Plus – affects them too.
– What about Dropbox, Evernote, Remember the Milk which offer paid for premium options on top of the free client deals?
– What about iPlayer – I need a TV licence to legally watch iPlayer content. To stay within rules will the iPlayer app need to offer an option to buy licence fee from within the app?
– Great post from MG Siegler – http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/15/apple-in-app-subscriptions/
– This new subscription system is great for Apple as they’ll make a lot of money and create a new, better experience for their customers (and maybe publishers too). But if it backfires, they could lose a significant part of their ecosystem support. And if some companies pull their apps, consumers may start to leave.
– The new system is awesome for customers as Apple has enabled a way for them to easily get new content on their devices at a fair price. But if companies back out of the App Store as a result, they will be shafted.
– This new system sucks for companies that provider subscription services, as they’ll now be forced into Apple’s way of doing things and must pay them 30 percent for it. But if it leads to a massive amount of new customers, it could actually be a very good thing.
– Magazines show up supporting in app subs – Elle, Popular Science, T3
– Later Tuesday, Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller confirmed that those rules apply not only to newspaper and magazine publishers, but also to content sellers like Amazon.com, which offers a Kindle app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
– To meet Apple’s guidelines, Amazon must remove its “Shop in Kindle Store” link from its Kindle application. That link, which opens the iOS browser and displays Amazon’s Web-based e-bookstore, is currently the easiest way for Kindle app users to purchase new books.
– Rhapsody – new iOS subs are economically entenable – http://musically.com/blog/2011/02/16/apples-new-ios-subscriptions-is-economically-untenable-says-rhapsody/
– An Apple-imposed arrangement that requires us to pay 30 percent of our revenue to Apple, in addition to content fees that we pay to the music labels, publishers and artists, is economically untenable,” says the statement.
– “The bottom line is we would not be able to offer our service through the iTunes store if subjected to Apple’s 30 percent monthly fee vs. a typical 2.5 percent credit card fee.”
– The statement also makes menacing legal noises. “We will be collaborating with our market peers in determining an appropriate legal and business response to this latest development.”
– As the fury dies, news that Readability app has been rejected – http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/21/readability-app-rejection/
– http://blog.readability.com/2011/02/an-open-letter-to-apple/
– Reason – 11.2 Apps utilizing a system other than the In App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an app will be rejected.
– Wow – so they really are chasing after everything?
– Allegedly subscriptions apply to ‘publishing apps’ only – e-mail attributed to one Steve Jobs
– Ian’s thoughts – Wed 16th – Step too far from Apple. This is evil. Android is now compelling enough to replace iOS for me. I won’t be moving from Mac anytime soon but if I see magazines, books, music only available on everything but iOS then I’ll move. Yet again it’s Apple changing the goalposts. I can’t believe people are saying this is what Apple have been saying all along. If so, why the change in dev guidelines. Again. Whats next? What if Apple say it’s not 30% but 40%. 50%? Then again, is this to force people OFF the platform so that everyone buys via iTunes, iBooks? Are they wanting to remove streaming music options so a future offer from Apple is more desirable? Long game at play and things will change – Amazon did use to charge 70/30 in there favour for Kindle originally. What I’m not sure is how much of the cover price of a magazine goes to the publisher and how much go to the newsagent? Thats why they can offer sub’s at lower price i.e. wired is half price to subscribe to. Looking online it’s 70-75% of the cover price goes to the publisher.
Chris – As consumers, there’s a lot to like about Apple’s stance. Everything wrapped up in the one ecosystem and the knowledge that they may as well buy in-app because they can’t get their subscription cheaper elsewhere. But this is a MASSIVE deal for companies with subscription models (a business model that is essential to companies today). 30% is a massive cut – and impossible to cater for in highly competitive and/or restrictive markets (like the music industry for eg).
Apple’s rolling the dice here a bit and, perhaps rightly, have come to the conclusion that their phone/tablet ecosystem is strong enough to force developers through it. But is Amazon really going to give away 30% of it’s book sales…???!!! Not without a fight I wouldn’t imagine.
It’s also worth noting that if this move is successful, it is consumers who will end up paying for the Apple tax… so it’s certainly an issue that should be paid close attention to.
24:18 – Google One Pass
– a service that lets publishers set their own prices and terms for their digital content. With Google One Pass, publishers can maintain direct relationships with their customers and give readers access to digital content across websites and mobile apps.
– Readers who purchase from a One Pass publisher can access their content on tablets, smartphones and websites using a single sign-on with an email and password. Importantly, the service helps publishers authenticate existing subscribers so that readers don’t have to re-subscribe in order to access their content on new devices.
– With Google One Pass, publishers can customize how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different models to see what works best for them—offering subscriptions, metered access, “freemium” content or even single articles for sale from their websites or mobile apps. The service also lets publishers give existing print subscribers free (or discounted) access to digital content. We take care of the rest, including payments technology handled via Google Checkout.
– No mention on cut but The Wall Street Journal said Google will take 10 percent of the revenue. That makes sense because One Pass rides atop existing websites and web apps. But it’s also smart in that it gives publishers more of the margins they expect for their content. Google said it expects periodicals will be the first customers of this, but it could extend to other properties that want to use micro-transactions. Google One Pass is currently available in France, Germany, Spain, the UK, the US and Canada.
– Provides alternative to Apple’s model and far less of a cut – interesting
– Also, by default Google will share your information with publishers which can be switched off. With the Apple deal, Apple will only share this info if you allow it – it’s off by default. Google One Pass is far more publisher friendly – could see a real shift from iOS to Android
29:56 – Kindle Publishing Costs
– Amazon charges 10p per MB for delivery of newspapers and magazines in the UK. By Amazon’s own estimates, a “typical newspaper” with 100 articles and 15 to 20 images would have a file size of between 0.5MB and 1MB – or around 10% of the overall revenue, considering most newspapers sell for 99p per day. It would be an even greater share of the publisher’s profits if users signed up for a cheaper subscription.
– Applies to delivery over 3G
32:07 – New Chrome Beta
– The latest beta release of chrome now has settings and options appear in browser tabs rather than popup windows. Makes sense and feels natural.
– Also reports that they could do away with an address bar!
– Well, they are looking at the possibility of rescuing yet more vertical space by having the address bar as a tab. Clearly those 30px are important!
35:16 – HTC Flyer
– Best specc’d 7” Android tablet?
– Not running Honeycomb – Gingerbread with HTC Sense on top
– Comes with OnLive service built in
– Stylus (pressure sensitive) with Scribe technology for recognizing hand writing
– Standard screen res, fast processor and good camera – aluminium unibody style design
– $730 so not bad
38:59 – Plex for Windows
– Plex Media Server launched for Windows
– Plex for Android also launched
– Watch content from your Plex library on Android devices
– Cheap media pc with blu-ray player and Plex is best solution for under the TV

Picks
Chris
HulloMail
– One of the gotcha’s with T-Mobile is that they (criminally) don’t include calls to their voicemail system inside your monthly allowance. However, a quick search around pointed me to the free HulloMail service. Essentially, this takes over from your carrier default voicemail service and the numbers you access the messages through ARE included in your monthly allowance.
– Signing up on Nexus S was as simple as downloading the app, creating an account and clicking “Apply Settings”. I’ve been running with it since Fri evening and it’s been great.
– The default application is free, but add supported. You can buy a year add free version for around £3.
Ian
Google Personal Blocklist
– Chrome extension that allows you to block a domain from being returned in your search results
– If installed, the extension also sends blocked site information to Google, and we will study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.
– Can edit your blocked sites to unblock them
– Early test but a must have extension

iPhone to Android Part 2: Infrastructure

Whatever you think about Apple, you have to admire their wholesale approach to their product line. As many arguments as there are against the all encompassing combination of iDevice + iTunes, it means that Apple control everything about their products from start to finish and this control gives them the ability to direct the user experience fully.

It may sit uncomfortably when they make decisions that you don’t agree with, but the strength is that, so long as you don’t want to use your device outside their software/hardware combination, everything is sorted for you. You don’t need to make decisions about where you store your music – it’s got to be iTunes. You don’t get a choice of where to make payments – it’s through Apple. You don’t get a choice of where to get your Apps from – it’s through the App store.

You become embedded and, more importantly, invested in the Apple way. If you keep on the Apple upgrade path, all of that investment stays with you. Move away however and it’s all gone. You can’t sync your iTunes library using iTunes with your other devices. You don’t get to take your Apps with you. This is the reason that it feels such a big step to move away from the Apple fold.

So, let me outline the infrastructure that I have come to use on my iPhone 3G and those aspects that I have aimed to recreate on the Nexus S.

  1. Music Library Syncing
  2. Podcast search/subscription/download/syncing
  3. Car holder
  4. FM Transmitter to play music through car speakers
  5. Sat Nav
  6. Applications (Key and supplemental)
  7. Music purchase

Let’s deal with the first 2 items first. Android doesn’t come with the pre-requisite of sync software installed on your PC. You can simply copy over your music collection files to your device. However, although I hate the BloatWare that is iTunes, I do love the fact that it lets me keep my music in sync and especially rely on the ability to subscribe to podcasts and have all un-listened to episodes synced to my phone. This was one area therefore that I was particularly worried about in the move from iPhone to Android. However, where needs arise, there are always those willing to fill the hole. And so in steps doubleTwist.

doubleTwist is effectively iTunes for all devices outside the Apple empire. It keeps things refreshingly simple. It allows you to connect up your device as a USB storage device and then sync your iTunes library/Windows media library onto your phone. It offers options to sync specific playlists or your whole collection. It allows syncing of your photos and videos as well. The software deals with any necessary file conversion to ensure your media plays OK on your phone. A solution then! Indeed.

It has been working well for me over the past few days with very few problems… apart from not being able to play DigitalOutbox through the in-built player on the desktop! Oops.

However, the story doesn’t end there. doubleTwist also integrates with the Android Market for apps and, if you live in the US, the Amazon MP3 store and as well. Apparently they are looking to have a UK MP3 store in place in the future. They have a free doublTwist player for your device and, if you’re willing to part with £3.10, you can also have AirSync and sync to your phone without the need to tether your device! The choice is yours, and isn’t it nice to have that choice!

The lack of integrated MP3 download isn’t such a big deal in reality as the UK Amazon MP3 store is easily available via the web and also as an app on the phone should you wish.

Straight away then, with doubleTwist things start feeling more like your iPhone you’ve walked away from. Perhaps going forward, this method of syncing will seem over engineered and drag-drop will seem more sensible but in this transfer period, it’s nice to have similar methodologies to rely on. There may be alternative software out there but as I hit on this on my first search and it did what I wanted, I haven’t really looked around more!

We’ve already ticked off a good selection of the infrastructure with doubleTwist. But how about car use? With my iPhone, I had a lighter mounted Belkin FM Transmitter II which combined the ability to hold the phone, charge as you travel and also output the audio to the stereo (as my car doesn’t have an aux in.)

When it comes to accessories, the iPhone is king. With the Android market being split over so many different devices, the accessories are far more limited. There isn’t an equivalent FM Transmitter/Holder for the Nexus S yet so, instead I have had to look for separate solutions.

When it comes to holders, my go-to manufacturer is Brodit. They make great attachments for an incredible variety of cars (Brodit Pro Clips) and these offer a solid platform into which to screw in their range of holders. To get the charging up and running, I’ve gone for an active holder, which plugs into the lighter socket in the car.

The best deal I found online was with www.mobilefun.co.uk and as their online reviews where very positive – they were a good bet. Great website and service so top marks from me as well although I would have liked to see the holder packaged up a little more. The holder is sturdy and the Nexus S slips in and connects with the charging port without issue. I would have liked the charging cable to be slightly longer, as it is a little bit of a stretch for my placements but it’s not a show stopper.

That leaves the FM Transmitter to get the device sound through the car speakers. I’ve had very mixed experience of FM Transmitters. The FM band is so crowded with stations that it is almost impossible to get a clear signal to transmit your content on. Normally, holding the signal at the extremes of the band is most successful. There are some exceptionally cheap devices out there, but they come with certain quality issues. You can’t go too far wrong with them as they don’t cost any real money (the cheapest come in at £5 or so). Still, I’ve given myself a little more chance for a longer life device and also got some neon blue lights by going with the Cygnett GrooveRide Touch.

It plugs into the jack out of the phone, and the Brodit holder leaves a small grove in the base of the unit, just enough to get the small end of the 3.5mm jack supplied with the GrooveRide though. When the phone is in the holder, it is a little fiddly to get the jack in the audio out but not a huge issue.

In practice, the sound you get through the stereo is adequate. There is more hiss on the the GrooveRide than there was with my Belkin and the band extremities were a little wider as well, giving a clearer spectrum to use. For Audiophiles, the hiss will be a game stopper. I tend to listen to podcasts in the car, so it’s not such a biggie. As ever though, a car stereo with an Aux in is a much better bet overall.

Navigation on Android devices is a no-brainer. Android (in its more recent forms) comes with in built Google navigation that’s free. It hooks into Google maps data (now vector based on Ginderbread) and voice is computer generated. In practice, the Nexus S picks up GPS extremely quickly and there were no issues with typing in locations – and because it hooks in with Google data, you don’t have to know postcodes, you can type locations – even down to specific pubs / attractions. I did have a little play with trying to use the voice control features – where you just tell your phone to “navigate to …”. However, I didn’t find this particularly accurate, even when I tried to use my bestest talking. I will look more into the voice aspects of the phone in the future to see if there’s a way to make things more accurate.

As the navigation is cloud based, you do need a data connection to make the most of the service, although the move to vector based data does mean that there is potential to store your route when you have a connection and use this cached version if it drops. I haven’t tested out/researched these capabilities but I had no problems during the real-world testing I did.

The last piece of my infrastructure puzzle is that of apps and software. I am going to cover this in another part of the series so watch this space!

Day 1 with the Nexus S: Hardware

It’s here! In a nice, crisp white box, stuffed in a cruddy DHL delivery bag and dropped off at the door by a man in a Peugeot 206! DHL… delivering via an ancient hatchback? Strange indeed. But still, that was all forgotten with the excitement of getting my grubby mit on a new piece of hardware.

Not only hardware of course, but software as well.

So, lets start this series off by taking a once over on the hardware. I don’t really have a frame of reference for hardware outside of the iPhone – so I will have to compare it to that and I suspect that most would agree that the iPhone is the best kit to compare it to for the purposes of this series.

Without being turned on, the Nexus S has an amazingly dark look. The inactive screen is almost completely black and is indistinguishable from the surround. This gives an almost seamless look to the gently curving front screen. The reverse of the phone has a slight pattern to it, almost mock carbon fibre. It also has a slight bump at the bottom of the phone making it easy to grip in the hand.

The case is unmistakably plastic. That shouldn’t really be read as “cheap feeling” as it is a solid device, however, like a heavy watch always reassures you there’s a good mechanism below the surface, you might expect to feel a little more weight behind this device.

One advantage of the plastic and the shape of the phone, is that it is very easy to keep hold of! I’ve had my iPhone slip out my hand on a couple of occasions due to it’s sleekness and I can’t see this happening with the Nexus S.

Things really start to sing with the device once you turn it on. It has a AMOLED screen that absolutely screams at you with it’s vibrancy, resolution and unbelievable contrast. I realise that many other devices have got AMOLED screens and as such, this is nothing new, but this is the first time I’ve seen one properly in the flesh for any length of time, and it’s got me sold. It’s not as high resolution as the iPhone retina display, but it’s not a long way off. The blackness of the phone and the  darkness of the new look of Gingerbread mean that everything just pops out and the icons seem to float in nothingness!

The live desktop is a nice effect, with moving walpapers to keep things interesting. I’ll go onto giving an initial impression of the software in another article so I’ll try not to get too sidetracked at this stage.

Digging into the phones settings, you’ve got all the fancy equipment everyone has come to expect. GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Compass etc. So, as with the iPhone, the device can know where it it, at what angle and where and how it’s moving. The Nexus S adds Near Field Communication (NFC) to the parade – a communication for reading tags embedded in other objects. Think of the Oyster cards and some new credit cards. Also, know that it won’t really be a big deal for a good while yet. Probably until the iPhone gets it’s own NFC chip!

Also in the setting are options to turn the Nexus S into a mobile hotspot or to tether it to your laptop. For all the per-lava that surrounds this feature on iPhone and on mobile devices generally, it’s so refreshing to have an unfettered offering with all the extras available. This will surely be the first feature to be turned off by carriers when the next Gingerbread devices are available.

The in build speaker in the Nexus S is disappointing. The iPhone speakers – or device speakers per-say – are not that strong in general, but this speaker is particularly weak. The sound output of the phone through the jack socket is also low. I have to crank my speakers in the kitchen right up to get some decent levels whilst doing the washing up. The in-ear buds are fairly comfy for my ears (much better than the white Apple buds.) The sound is better through the earphones as you would expect and the volume is less of an issue, but I’m used to devices being able to blast you to smithereens if you so wish, and you can sit with the volume at full with no issues.

The phone is the right size. There are lots of devices out there that are getting bigger… getting on for comical. The Nexus S is nicely pocket sized and positively mobile.

So, an encouraging start with the device. Sound aside, everything feels nice and solid. Wi-Fi has been good enough across the house and the phone hasn’t struggled with any of the trials I’ve subjected it too so far. In fact, it’s been pretty faultless and very snappy. Comparing it to my creaking iPhone 3G is night and day. I’m confident that iPhone 4 users would appreciate a comparable speed of operation.

In the next part of the series, I’ll be looking at setting up the phone infrastructure – how can you recover the ability to sync your music collection and podcasts? What accessories are available? How do you get to use your phone as you are used to?

DigitalOutbox Episode 77

DigitalOutbox Episode 77
In this episode the team discuss Microsoft pwning Nokia, HP, Sony and Motorola devices and Guitar Hero goes bye bye.

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
1:11 – Microsoft and Nokia sign partnership
– Stephen Elop, Nokia’s recently appointed chief executive, said Nokia will use Windows Mobile 7 as its primary smartphone platform. Elop has also shaken up the senior management team, having warned staff this week that the company was standing on a “burning platform”.
– Speaking in London this morning, Elop said the partnership meant the mobile market was now a “three horse race”, with Nokia-Microsoft competing strongly with Apple, and Google’s Android platform. Mmmm – what about RIM?
– Under the plan, Nokia said it would use its expertise in hardware design, imaging and mapping to improve the Windows Mobile platform. The two companies will work together on marketing, and develop a common roadmap. Bing, Microsoft’s search service, will be integrated into Nokia devices.
– Nokia said it will continue to make phones running its Symbian operating system, thus “leveraging previous investments to harvest additional value”. Symbian, though, will be relegated to the status of a “franchise partner”.
– Job losses expected at Nokia
– Around 1000 Nokia employees walk out in protest – http://www.ubergizmo.com/2011/02/nokia-employees-walk-out-in-protest-of-microsoft-deal/
– Elop wouldn’t promise that Nokia will remain profitable while the Symbian-to-Windows Phone transition takes place.
– Nokia Windows Phone devices will start shipping in volume in 2012 but under pressure to deliver this year
– Symbian phones still coming out over the next 12-18 months – who will buy one of these now? It’d a dead platform.
– Nokia shares…down 14%
– Microsoft allegedly handing over billions in this deal – http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9209259/Microsoft_to_pay_out_billions_as_part_of_Nokia_deal
– Elop referred to a slide that Nokia displayed last week that showed marketing resources and other investments flowing from Microsoft to Nokia as part of the deal. While speculation has had that number in the millions or tens of millions of dollars, the figure is actually much higher than that, he said. “In fact the value transferred to Nokia is measured in B’s not M’s,” he said.
– Elop’s first priority – beat Android
– So is it Microkia or Nosoft?
10:25 – HP Event
– HP Veer (no more Palm)
– http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/09/the-hp-veer/
– Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7230 processor at 800MHz.
– a 2.6-inch 320 x 400 display, 5 megapixel EDoF camera,
– HSPA+ support, 8GB of storage, an accelerometer, proximity and light sensors (as usual), Touchstone compatibility, and mobile hotspot support
– Cute and hands on from engadget and gizmodo say it’s fast – mini per2 has a lot to like
– Web OS 2.2
– HP Pre 3
– http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/09/the-hp-pre-3/
– QWERTY slider with the all-too-familiar form factor has a 3.6-inch 800 x 480 display (a marked improvement over past Pres)
– 5 megapixel camera with AF and LED flash, HD video, a front-facing camera for video calling, mobile hotspot.
– Qualcomm CPU running at 1.4GHz (!), HSPA+ and EVDO Rev A — yep, it’s a world phone — and the same RAM as the Pre 2 (that’s 512MB DRAM).
– Touchstone compatible, naturally, and will switch to Exhibition mode when docked to show pictures and upcoming appointments.
– availability is this summer with both 8GB and 16GB storage options.
– Web OS 2.2
– HP TouchPad
– http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/09/the-hp-touchpad/
– is shaped almost exactly like the iPad. It tips the scales at 1.6 pounds and measures 13.7mm thick,
– HP’s shipping this one with its own Beats audio engine, Touch-to-Share (a feature that lets users easily transfer a website, document, song, text or call from the phone to the tablet — or vice versa — simply by tapping the two devices together) and a huge reliance on the cloud.
– Other specifications include webOS 3.0, a 9.7-inch display (1024 x 768 screen resolution), a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon CPU (!), inbuilt gyroscope, accelerometer, compass and 16GB / 32GB of internal storage space.
– There’s also a front-facing 1.3 megapixel webcam, support for video calling, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, “twice the memory of a Pre 2” and a set of stereo speakers.
– There’s a new paneled email application a Growl-like pop-up notification system, plenty of cal / email integration courtesy of HP Synergy, a slick virtual keyboard, VPN support, wireless printing as well as Google Docs, QuickOffice, Dropbox and Box.net compatibility. One of the killer features that can’t be found on a competing tablet right now is this one’s ability to talk to the Pre 3 — so long as there’s a Touchstone involved, one can have their Pre 3 and TouchPad communicate, even piping over notifications and texts from the phone onto the slate. It’s a brilliant idea, and we’re obviously amped to see just how well it’s implemented.
– Wi-fi initially, 3G and 4G coming later, price – announced on later date as will availability (this summer).
– HP & Time do deal to bring mag subscriptions to TouchPad
– No mention on battery life.
– Gizmodo – The only major issue is the speed.This might be because of the fact that the TouchPad isn’t done, and has six months of development time left, but every app, every notification and every multitasking instance is kinda slow. Again, it’s not unusably slow, if you’ve used the Pre compared to a faster phone, say, a Nexus S or a Motorola Atrix or an iPhone 4, you’ll know how the TouchPad compares to the Motorola Xoom. This is surprising since the TouchPad has a 1.2GHz dual core processor, but, webOS has never been a particularly speedy OS.
– So the big three – price, battery, release date – nothing.
– RIP Palm
– One more thing – Web OS coming to PC market
17:22 – Motorola Xoom
– $800
– Feb 24th
– Feb and March are big for tablets – the Xoom sports an impressive set of features, many of which dwarf the iPad, such as two cameras, 1080p screen resolution and a HDMI output.
– Best Buy pre-order – http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Computers-Promotions/Motorola+XOOM/pcmcat233400050016.c?id=pcmcat233400050016 – $1199 – DOA if thats the price
– Wifi only version coming to Europe in 2nd quarter
19:58 – Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
– like the rest of the upcoming Android 3.0 tablets it’s powered by a dual-core Tegra 2 processor, will be available with 16GB or 32GB of storage, and has a front-facing 2 megapixel camera as well as a 8 megapixel imager around back.
– 1280 x 800-resolution 10.1-inch TFT display, and while it’s not Super AMOLED or Super AMOLED Plus quality, it looked quite bright at a variety of angles. We’d venture to say that Samsung’s using a similar panel as in the original Tab here, which is certainly a good thing. Surrounding the tablet you’ll find a SIM slot, 3.5mm jack, and Samsung’s proprietary charging cable. Sadly, there’s no USB or HDMI ports. The rear 8 megapixel cam has a LED flash and can capture 1080p video, while the 2 megapixel lens centered on the top bezel should suffice for those Google Talk Video calls.
– Launching in March in both Asia and Europe — Vodafone will be the first carrier to nab the Tab — but it had absolutely no timing details for the US market. Price? We’ve got no idea, though we’re told it will be “competitive.”
– Feels light in the hand, plastic but solid, grippy back rather than slippy
– Google experience device – no Samsung front end – pure Honeycomb
27:54 – Sony Phones
– Xperia Neo – able to plug into your HDTV via HDMI and can be controlled with a standard remote. The 3.7-inch screen on the device sports a healthy resolution of 854 x 480 and uses Sony’s Bravia graphics engine. The phone has a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash (and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera), and will be available in an array of colors (silver, red, and blue).
– http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/13/the-sony-ericsson-xperia-pro/
– Xperia Pro – a slider device with a full QWERTY keyboard. The device sports a 3.7-inch, 854 x 480 display (which uses the company’s Bravia graphics engine technology), runs atop a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, and is sporting SE’s customized build of Gingerbread (Android 2.3). The phone has an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash, 2 megapixel front facing camera, and will be available in silver, red, and black.
– http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/13/the-sony-ericsson-xperia-play/
– run Android 2.3 Gingerbread on a 1GHz Snapdragon processor with Qualcomm Adreno 205 graphics and display those games on a sizable 4-inch, 854 x 480 multi-touch LCD screen, the combination of which Sony says will provide 60 frames per second playback and manage up to 5 hours, 35 minutes of battery life in a single game session with the slide-out PlayStation Certified controller
– PS1 games plus Android games
– Available March
31:15 – How popular is Android
– Google I/O conference sells out
– Big deal
– I/O sold out in 90 days in 2009, 50 days in 2010 and 59 minutes in 2011
– Previous years has seen free handsets handed out, making the $450 conference fee a bit of a bargain – cheapest way of getting a development device without contract – we’ll see on May 10th, 11th later this year
– But previous attendees got to pre-register this year.
35:31 – Google 2 Step Verification
– Two-step verification offers a more secure way for Google to verify that you are who you say you are when you’re logging into your Google account on a new web browser, through a new application, or on a new mobile device. With two-step verification, your password isn’t enough by itself. As Google put it:
– 2 step verification requires two independent factors for authentication, much like you might see on your banking website: your password, plus a code you only use once.
Those two factors are:
– Your password (just like always)
– A single-use verification code that Google sends to your phone in one of three ways: 1) Using the Google Authenticator app available for Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry, 2) via SMS, or 3) through a voice call (meaning you could even use a landline if you didn’t have a cellphone—basically the call would read off the code to you).
– Set up via your Google account page
37:51 – Google hitting the iPhone Hard
– Google Shopper now available
– Search via photo, voice, text or barcode
– Returns list of stores both off and online and best prices/availability
– Select shop, read reviews and in certain cases check stock
– Keeps history and can share results on Twitter, Facebook – what, no Buzz?
– Google Translate now available
– Speak to translate – voice input for 15 languages, translate a word or phrase to 50 languages
– Listen to translations – listen to translations spoken out loud in up to 23 languages
– Full screen mode to display translated text
– Still doesn’t have the conversation mode in android which translates ‘live’, speaking the translation
40:21 – iPlayer Apps
– Coming to iPad and Android
– iPad
– The new app takes better advantage of the touchscreen user interface, says the BBC, which is a popular feature on the “iPad-ified” website.
– Both the iPad app and Android app will offer live TV streams and radio, the latter which was never before available to mobile devices.
– Mobile users can also access the full BBC catalog of “catch-up” programs (TV you may have missed), seven days’ worth of TV and radio on demand and the “series stacking” feature that’s also available on the Web, this last item being a feature that allows viewers to watch older programs from selected series up until the series has ended.
– Android
– On Android, the iPlayer app will not be available for all devices, only on those running the Android 2.2 (“Froyo”) version of the mobile operating system and Adobe Flash 10.1. This is because the player’s Flash streams require “a powerful mobile phone processor and a Wi-Fi connection,” says the BBC.
– The speculation is that BBC had to implement the streaming service in Flash because of content provider pressure, not technical requirements. Content providers are concerned about pirating – that same fear is why the Netflix application for Android has not yet launched either.
– Not on iPhone, global iPlayer app coming later this year with a subscription service
– Video quality on iPad is excellent, live radio is nice, can shift audio via AirPlay, expect video in 4.3 (double click home button – eh?)
43:17 – Last.fm moves to mobile subscription model
– Free ride for mobiles is over – radio service will become an ad-free, subscriber-only feature on iPhones and Androids, starting February 15
– Cost is £3 or $3 a month
– Less than Spotify but with Spotify you can choose what you want to play – Last.fm does not let you play tracks on demand
– Last.fm Radio will remain free via its website and desktop app as well as for U.S. and U.K. users of Xbox Live and Windows Mobile 7 phones.
Last.fm Radio offers a personalized station, playing full song tracks based on users’ preferences. Currently, that streaming service is free in the U.S. and U.K. via an ad-supported app.
44:52 – Activision Job and Title Cuts
– Guitar Hero, DJ Hero and True Crime series all cancelled
– They can’t make these games profitable
– 500 job cuts
47:35 – Geek saves 172 BBC Websites
– User spiders and archives the 172 websites that the BBC is axing
– They then made all the content available via a torrent – http://178.63.252.42/bbc.closing.sites.archive.torrent
– The purpose of this project is to show how the entire 172 public facing websites that are earmarked for deletion have been copied, archived, distributed and republished online – independently – for the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee (around $3.99).” In other words, the cost-savings from the BBC’s gutting of its online presence: minimal.
The act also has a political side. “The purpose of this project is to expose the ‘cost savings’ of this proposed exercise as nothing more than a charade to appease the detractors to a strong BBC and to curry favour with the current government. BBC’s current senior management has demonstrated a lack of leadership and a lack of courage in pushing back on these demands.”
– But maybe the data won’t be deleted after all – http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2011/02/bbc_online_and_deleting_websit.html

Picks
Chris
SuperTooth Buddy
– Visor Handsfree BlueTooth device.
– No installation – simple clip onto visor and attaches via magnet.
– Auto connect – can connect to 2 different devices
– 20h talk time – 1000h standby
– Power, Volume, Pickup call, Stop call on face. Micro USB port for chanrgin at rear.
– Nice loud audio in car and voice pickup seems good.
– For multi-car / multi-device homes, a great simple solution to handsfree..
– Currently just a bit over £35 on Amazon.

Henry
GiffGaff
– the social mobile network.
– No phones, Just PAYG tarriffs from £5

Ian
Alupen
– Great stylus for the iPad
– £14

Jumping in bed with an Android

Google Nexus S
The Nexus S

OK, so since the beginning of the year, I’ve been harping on about how now is NOT the time to buy new phone. Well, I still say that is exceptionally prudent advice, with a lot of new Android devices on the very near horizon and also the new iPhone announcement coming along very soon.

But when has good advice ever taken precedence over impatience?

I cracked. Like Humpty Dumpty perched on top of a wall, it was inevitable really. It was a late night decision, but now on route to my humble abode is a shiny new Google/Samsung Nexux S. It should be here by tomorrow.

What I am convinced of, is that this is the right decision for a geeky mobile buyer right at this second, what I am yet to know, is whether the comfortable surroundings that Apple lays on with it’s iOS infrastructure is going to be missed, when it appears that you very much have to buy your own furniture with Android. Also, over the next couple of months we’ll hear all sorts of speculation on the new iPhone and then finally be marginally disappointed with it’s final offering. However, it will still be a mighty device no doubt, and it was what I was trying to tell myself to hold on just a few more weeks for.

But no. I’ve now plunged headlong into a 24 month contract with a new carrier and a brand new device and operating system. All my existing infrastructure that goes along with a smart phone these days (car holders, application purchases, computer setup, data syncing) will likely need tweaking or changing wholesale.

It’s going to be an interesting time. One that I am really looking forward to as it happens. And also one that I will document here on DigitalOutbox. There are many people out there in a similar position, perhaps looking to extract themselves from the all encompassing iPhone and I hope that this new series will highlight the plusses and minuses along the transition.

Instant Heart Rate

When I first saw this app I dismissed it as a gimmick. Some of the reviews on the app store said as much – rubbish, it doesn’t work, con artist – blah, blah, blah. Thanks to Shakeel though I downloaded the app for my iPhone and what do you know – it works!

Instant Heart Rate for iPhone (and also Android devices) is a £0.59 app that measures your heart rate. It does this via the iphone’s camera – thats the bit that initially put me off the app. How would the camera detect heart rate? Well, by enabling the flash the camera can detect your heartbeat by the colour variation as the blood flows through your fingers. Fire up the application, click on measure and the flash is enabled. Place your finger over the camera lens and wait a few seconds for the app to settle and start detecting. It will then measure for a few seconds and start displaying your heartbeat. Once measuring accurately you can then store your heartbeat and a simple graph over time will show your measurements. The hastily shot video below shows how quickly it measures your heart rate.

I was still a bit sceptical but a few other tests after badminton and cycling confirmed it’s accuracy, tying up exactly with the heart rate monitor on my bike. As well as measuring heart rates, the app will also measure your heart rate recovery. The app will measure your rate for 60 seconds after exercise and this can be used as a simple measure of how fit your heart is. Again the app will chart your heart rate recovery over time so if you’ve made a New Years resolution and fitness is a new goal this should give you a way of measuring progress over the year.

Couple of updates from after the podcast. The app doesn’t work on the iPhone 3G but does on the 3GS although it needs a lot of light to accurately detect your heartbeat. Secondly, the app is also available for Android devices but I’m not sure on pricing or which devices are supported.

A very simple app but great value for £0.59 and definitely an app that impresses people when they see it in action.