Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Random bits for last week

Dopplr have launched a very clean and functional mobile web version of the service aimed at travellers heading in the same direction.

You can share your travel plans privately or with a group and since travelling means being mobile, a mobile version was a practical necessity.

Point your mobile web browser to m.dopplr.com

Goojet another startup in the mobile widgets category launched last week at Le Web3 conference, along the lines of widsets and webwag. More details via BlogNation.

Friendster the social networking site goes mobile. What surprises me is that it has taken so long for them to go mobile - especially as Asia is one of the biggest user-bases of Friendster and users over there are more familiar with mobile access.
Point your mobile browser to http://www.friendstertogo.com and make sure you've enabled the Go Mobile widget in your account.

Nokia beta labs announced their channels application (for branded worldwide news feeds) and PC-to-phone (web interface for making calls, sending texts and managing contacts). The big N are launching the anticipated n-gage platform tomorrow in the UK for N81 users and 3rd party developer Samir has proto'd the flip-to-silent profile on the N95 using the accelerometer. I wondered when we'd see a version for the device.

..and last but not least Social.fm mobile and desktop music client review. I haven't had time to try it yet so was interested in reading this.
Get access to your music library on your PC (like Orb),access your friend's music collections, over 100,00 channels of digital radio and one click access to popular podcasts.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Note to Self: Remember Voice ?

Update: I see another startup Kwiry launched this week with text based reminders instead of voice.

Ah, the killer apps of mobiles. As readers know I'm a fan of voice and text based mashup services on mobiles such as SpinVox's Spin-my-memo service.

There's a new entrant ReQall by QTech with its voice-to-text based tasks / notes and meetings reminders.

I think it's a slightly different proposition to Spinvox coming more from a "capture your thoughts/tasks on your mobile + reminder" angle rather than Spinvox's traditional voicemail-to-text offering (which they've expanded on, into memo/notes and Social Networking/Blogging).

After registering for the service, you call a number (UK:0800 692 8780) then either press 1 or say "add" to leave a voice memo, or "3" or say "recall" to recall a previoulsy left voice memo. So far, not a lot different from leaving yourself a voicemail on your operators network...however there's a few features that make the service a little more accessible.

Text and email notifications can be configured with reminder options. The SMS option sends you a text of the transcoded content of what you've said. Screenshots of email and texts are below.

There's RSS feeds for push updates you can consume in your blog reader and the obligatory iPhone version for access to the service on the web.

Calendar and search functions within the fixed web based interface are a useful addition so you can see when you've added notes and quickly find them.

Plus there's the visual-voicemail type web interface for accessing the list of tasks/memos and you can listen to the audio or read the text - you choose. Overall I liked the interface and it was all very easy to set up but there's no mobile web interface as yet.

Spinvox has more voice-to-end-destination options especially with blast and the social networking sites (jaiku, twitter, FB etc..I followed Symbian-Guru via Jaiku at the recent Nokia World event and noted he was using SpinVox to post his updates - I'm sure this was much easier than trying to Twit or Jaiku individual blog posts). Spinvox are also getting traction in the market having recently signed up with some of the major UK mobile operators.

Jott in the US also added the ability to voice record a events straight into Google Calendar (as well Amazon wishlist) from your mobile / landline.

Looks like voice on the mobile is not quite dead yet and as more of us outsource our memory to the cloud :) these types of service may become increasingly handy.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Nokia claim to get it - keynote 2007

"Experience can be improved
". Photo credit.

Nokia acknowledge their user-interface / user-experience needs overhauling as they realise that whilst functionality is all well and good, usability / user experience are equally if not more important to attract more than the power user geeks.

Especially if they want consumers to start using services beyond voice and text.

Nokia seemed to have listened directly to this issue, acknowledged it and will attempt to address it through their strategy of becoming a services / internet company (and the accompanying integrated devices).

The announcement of Universal joining with Nokia for free annual music subscription, Avvenu buyout and Internet Radio apps were not as interesting to me in the keynote as the Ovi detail.

Besides the TIM announcement which makes the third operator alongside Telefonica and Vodafone to integrate Ovi the actual service itself seems more integrated than I first thought.

Like a cross between Dashwire (see here) + Widgets/RSS web feeds (a la Netvibes) + Social Networking (Contacts / Relationships) + 3rd party web services (not just Nokia's n-Gage and music offerings) with full mobile seamlessness based around context and wrapped up in a dashboard user experience.

Or as Nokias CEO puts it, a dashboard for your digital life that's personalised / localised and socialised.

Single sign on, one-synch backup, a fixed browser toolbar and desktop versions (all with the same ui) as well of course, the central mobile element rolled in (lets hope, unlike the UK Nokia music store that it works in Firefox and is more compelling than the PC desktop clients they've built to date).

Will Nokia get this right or will it take an Apple, a Google (via Android and/or their own ODP), a Yahoo or even one of the existing mobile On Device Portal vendors to show them how ?

We'll see.

I'm still waiting for my Ovi beta invite so cannot judge yet and as ever it will all be down to the execution.

Interesting announcements though all the same as the big N move to tie the web and mobile together, something I've been advocating for a while and is inevitable, isn't it - what do you think ?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mobile Mapping updates

There's been various announcements this week on mobile mapping. Google have released another update to their mobile google maps client to version 2.03.

If your phone doesn't have GPS in it, you can still locate yourself roughly using cell-tower triangulation using the new "Locate Me" option in the menu.

The blue dot on the picture is using GPS... I haven't tried it without yet, but you should see a light blue circle round the blue dot when not using GPS to indicate a wider area of your approximate location ... you can see a demo here.

Gypsii and Nokia have teamed up for social-based mobile mapping with user-generated content / media upload (video , photos and audio) that is geotagged and all the other usual social networking options. You can save your favourite places, view others stored places etc... and there is a geoblogging option too.

I think we'll see more of this type of geolocation stuff move into the mainstream next year.

The download mobile client is currently only available for Windows Mobile, Symbian S60 is allegedly coming soon.

...and finally you can text your location and a message to geosms to see what the worlds texting about.

It's similar concept to twitter vision (which I note has now integrated with Facebook too).

There are various other ways of getting tweets or jaikus with geo-location up to your favourite SN / microblogging site - from your mobile - eg. twibble which has improved loads through the various updates and has the ability to put the geo-coordinates into a text message using the phone's GPS so you can send location specific updates.

I wonder who will be first to integrate alerting into mobile location via presence ? Similar to IM/Email you can see who is online, same with mobile geolocation - alert me when one of my chosen contacts is within 5 mile radius. It's all a bit scary.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Google's ZXing

Another small mobile announcement by Google.

"ZXing (pronounced "zebra crossing") is an open-source, multi-format 1D/2D barcode reader library implemented in Java. Our goal is to support decoding of QR Codes, Data Matrix, and the UPC family of 1D barcodes. It will provide clients for J2ME, J2SE, and Android."

As Andreas Constantinou points out in his blog post this is hardly surprising - connecting the physical world via QR codes to mobiles is another mobile channel Google wants to fully exploit.

Driving more people to access the internet and ultimately ad-supported search and web content I would imagine, aligns to their mobile strategy.

Nokia have been pushing QR and barcodes for a long time and most of the nseries and eseries now include a native scanner/reader application.
I've been using them for a while (kaywa being the first on I tried that was 3rd party), way more convenient than typing in URL's on a phone keypad.

I suspect we will start seeing them much more frequently over the next 2-3 years in Europe as cosumers realise what they are - they seem to be commonplace in Asia.
Interestingly I've started seeing them on snail-mail post and on medicine bottles too, so some companies are beginning to adopt them for tracking /promotion etc...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shozu update's for mobile

Shozu's got a fresh new look to their website and have at last added MMS / email upload from your mobile - (including forwarding to multiple destinations), thus saving you money and time in keeping end destinations sycnhronized.

Useful for those not wanting to use the Shozu mobile client or the client is not yet available for their mobile phone.

Whilst lots of end destination web sites support email or even MMS upload (eg. blogger), a shozu account allows multiple destinations to be configured and aggregated in one place with the preferences set on a per destination basis. Much more useful.

The sign up procedure for new users is via sending an MMS/email to go@m.shozu.com.
To validate the forwarding destination (eg. flickr, facebook etc..) an account needs to be set up and is similar to go.blogger.com with sms validation code entry required on go.shozu.com.

The pic above is a particularly bad photo taken from my cameraphone and uploaded to this blog via the new mms/email feature.

PRESS RELEASE - Do you want to send the latest snapshot from your camera phone to your Flickr album, Facebook page, personal blog and best friend’s email simultaneously without creating multiple messages for every photo or video clip as well as paying for each upload? ShoZu Inc. today announced a new picture messaging/MMS service offering this mass publishing ability for every media-enabled handset, bringing its core technology and industry-leading integration with 30 social media sites to every phone for the first time.

The service is designed for the millions of users who regularly send images to multiple destinations. A just-released study by Parks Associates found that nearly half of all social networkers regularly use more than one site, while one in six use three or more. That does not include other social media properties such as photo communities. ShoZu’s own records indicate that more than one-third of the users of the company’s other services publish images to multiple websites and/or email addresses.

To use the new ShoZu service, simply set up your preferred websites, blogs and email addresses at www.shozu.com. After that, any photo or video clip sent to go@m.shozu.com is delivered directly to ShoZu’s servers and then forwarded automatically to all of the destinations you have specified. There’s no need to waste time and effort setting up and sending consecutive MMS/picture messages from your handset, or multiple emails from your BlackBerry or iPhone. One ShoZu message does it all. There is no limit on the number of destinations.

In addition, users can assign auto-tags from the ShoZu website that will accompany each photo uploaded in a particular group (”Tahoe,” “Joe’s 25th birthday,” etc.). MMS uploads typically do not support tags, and if carriers do offer a tagging capability, users must take the time to tag each photo or video clip separately.

The ShoZu service requires no software installation and is free other than the data or messaging charges from your wireless carrier. For the large number of consumers with picture messaging or flat rate data packages, this means the service is available at no additional cost. If you don’t have a flat rate data package, you also save the cost of uploading to each destination as required with standard picture mail/MMS or email use. Users pay only for sending the image file once to ShoZu’s servers.

Destination options include leading photo community and social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Google Picasa, Faces, Buzznet, Kodak EasyShare Gallery, Webshots, Windows Live Spaces, Moblog.uk, Dada.net, Pikeo, Faces.com and blip.tv. Other choices include personal blogging and citizen-contributed photojournalism sites such as Google Blogger, LiveJournal, Textamerica, TypePad, Vox, WordPress, MetaWeblog, CNN, the BBC and Scoopt. Users can also add multiple email and FTP addresses from the Shozu portal.

In addition, users can send images to now@shozu.com to take advantage of ShoZu Slideshow, a new mobile widget that populates “virtual photo frames” installed on personal websites, profiles or blogs with photos or videos sent from any media-capable mobile phone. Users can embed the ShoZu widget into the site of their choice. New images sent to the Slideshow address are then automatically delivered to every site where the widget is installed, creating a dynamic photo or video album that eliminates the need for users to send new images to their personal pages, friends or family members manually. The widget is available at www.shozuslideshow.com.

“Today mobile users in 119 countries use ShoZu’s complete Share-It service for interacting with their favorite social media sites, including advanced capabilities like having your friends’ posts delivered directly to your handset. The Share-It service is now downloadable to hundreds of different handset models, and will be shipping out of the box with pre-install deals on Motorola and Samsung handsets, but consumers without those handsets have been left out until now,” said ShoZu CEO Mark Bole. “This new MMS service brings our multiple-images-for-one-upload benefit to virtually every media-enabled phone, and this is the first of several steps in bringing the broader ShoZu experience to the market at large.”

ShoZu’s Share-It service, currently available on 278 handset models, offers the same mass publishing ability as the new MMS service plus two-way media sharing designed to connect the user’s online life to his or her mobile life. Share-It users can send photos, videos and text from their phones to their favorite social media sites with a single click, as well as receive friends’ newest Flickr photos and more on their phone as soon as they are posted online.

Other unique Share-It features include the ability to send video clips up to 10 minutes in length, transmit photos at full or blog-quality resolution, add descriptions and tags to individual images from the phone before or after uploading, and exchange two-way commenting and messages between the mobile and the Web. A list of compatible phones is available at www.shozu.com.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mini speaker app

Just in case you want to hear some text read out by a computerised voice on your phone. Type in any text and listen as it's read out.

Can't think of any practical uses for this though...

QR code below or link here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Google becomes a fully fledged Mobile Company

Update 12th Nov...

Google's Android's platform on show. The first device in the video is similar to the one I saw. It has a fast UI (look how quick it is to switch between apps)and I like the notification/alerts on the home screen. The second device shows a much more iphone like experience, not just because of the touch screen (it looks like a capacitive touch screen to me), but because of the integration between tha apps. Note the webkit browser and impressive graphics.

Yesterday Google announced its plans for the wireless/mobile space with it's mobile platform - Android and a set of supporting industry partners under the Open Handset Alliance.

Two posts that analyse the announcement I thought were interesting are:


Here's my rambling thoughts.... If you were Google, had tons of cash and realised wireless/mobile is the future (as an enabler for search, advertising, social networking, staying connected etc..) what would you do ?

1) Build or buy a global mobile network (about a billion hurdles with this one and even Google does not have enough cash).

2) Develop a branded mobile phone range (a commodity product with limited shelf life) with constant need for renewal to stay ahead and then the problem of OS choice.

3) Take your product range and make mobile versions. Acquire mobile 3rd parties that fill gaps in product portfolio, or, align with existing mobile product range that bring customers with them.

4) Build own mobile OS and software/application stack with reference platform(s) based on different chipsets -(bonus make it open source and free/no licensing cost barrier-to-entry) and try and attract developers, partners, device OEM's as part of an ecosystem to maximise potential distribution.

Microsoft (MS) have gone for 3 and 4. Yahoo have gone for 3 to my knowledge. Google have gone for 3 and now, 4 with key differences to MS. Symbian started 4 (RIM/Palm also in this boat).

- MS made their mobile client apps only for Windows mobile up until very recently to try and entice Windows Mobile OS sales (thus limiting their distribution).
Google (and Yahoo) have been pursuing 3 with preinstallation of mobile clients -GMail, Google Search, Google Maps etc and mobilebrowser integration ... with the handset manufacturers and Operators globally, same as MS, but the difference being the mobile clients ran on multiple OS/runtimes (as they were either J2ME, Symbian or native implementations).

- With 4, Google have decided to go open source with a Linux based kernel and application layer, to try and maximise uptake and adoption with the different parties in the mobile ecosystem.

History is repeating itself. Do you remember the fanfare of Windows mobile years ago ? with Microsoft trying to attract the same mobile developer community and industry partners.

So what's different this time ? Well Google seem to have attracted a slew of heavyweight mobile ecosystem partners with their Open Handset Alliance from the off including importantly the chipset manufacturers for the reference implementations and with an open linux based platform, the developer community may be attracted under the guise they can reach greater distribution (dependent on how many device OEM's adopt the platform and launch devices).

The device OEM's have now, yet another OS choice, which if proves compelling may shift the device/OS mix.

(As an aside - all those Apple hackers frustrated with the closed/locked-down mobile OSX merry-go-round may have moved to this new developer platform- if Appple had not announced their iPhone SDK for native app development due Feb 08. I imagine we will see iPhone-esque 'native' applications for this platform quickly).

Is this mobile-industry-game-changing ? Hmmm. Too early to tell. Will the devices that use Android be any good ? From a UI perspective the prototype device I've seen running Android had a surprisingly slick/fast user-interface (but then again I've seen Savaje implementations that were ok and look where they are)... Mobile Linux OS implementations are also already in the market from Nokia and Motorola (Motorola also being part of the new alliance - what happened to Motorola LiMo foundation).

It's certainly a bold move, but I wonder if the run time fragmentation will continue as it has done. Will 3rd party application developers building their mobile services have just another OS/runtime to port to - Symbian C++, J2ME, Windows Mobile, BREW, native, and now Android-Linux ?

Two things for sure :

1) Google needs to pour significant energy and resources into making this initiative work, driving on this initial momentum (eg. they will include a set of developed Google mobile apps with Android which may be attractive for both operators and the signed up device OEM's)

2) Success will also be ** very ** dependent on the devices. They have to be good/cool (including form factor and all the usual stuff)

Otherwise it will be another mobile industry alliance fanfare that fades (like other have) with limited or no success over time.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tip 'n' Tilt

It was inevitable that sensors would be one of the next things to come to mobile phone hardware.

One of the wow factors of the-phone-that-shall-not-be-named (and Times invention of the year 2007) is cover-flow, pinch/zoom/tap and automatic landscape/portrait flipping for mobile browsing and photo viewing.

This makes for a "cool" intuitive user experience when added to a touch interface. It has also spurred on the other handset manufacturers to include these features.

I wonder why then, Nokia did not promote the fact the N95, launched back in April does have an accelerometer allowing landscape/portrait flipping ? Sony Ericson promoted their 'shuffle' feature heavily around a specific music handset W910 (shake the device to skip tracks).

Perhaps they could not integrate it with (say, the Gallery or the OSS browser) in time for shipping - who knows ? I'm positive on the next n-series devices they will make more of this feature should it be included - and it will.

Download here ...

or point your mobile bar scanner app at this (barcode is in the office directory usually).

Moving ball.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Google halts SN walled gardens with OpenSocial

Update2: Looks like MySpace and Bebo have joined up.Pressures on for FB.

Update1: screencast here

We knew it was coming - but this to me seems a clever play by Google.

OpenSocial = "a set of common APIs for building social applications across the web".

Taking the better elements of Facebook's Developer platform concept (for facebook apps) but making it non-proprietary (no FBML), open (get your widget /app working in multiple social networks with no porting) and allowing developers to share/store data on Google's servers (thus solving scaling issues for 3rd party applications ) seems like a strong proposition.

Adding major parnters to the OpenSocial initiative for launch : SixApart, Orkut, LinkedIn, Hi5, Friendster, Salesforce.com, Oracle, Ning, iLike, Flixster, RockYou, Plaxo and Slide + the use of standard Javascript and XHTML technologies virtually **guarantees** the platform a running start and developer adoption but ... the familiar security/privacy issues arise again ... will you be able to get data out of Google's platform ? (or is this just a bigger walled garden?) and do 3rd parties want to store rich user data on Google's platform potentially allowing Google access to it..?

Interesting commentary here and here. The big question will Facebook and MySpace sign up ?

From a mobile perspective Google are agressively pushing forward in mobile **and** social networking areas (reference Zingku/Jaiku posts) - it is inevitable they will bring the two together for their take on MOSOSO ... this platform is another step along the way...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Shortcuts on your phone: SkyeQuiKey

Odd name but a very useful application, similar to Qix which I'm also a big fan of.

It's hard to go back to hierarchical menus and submenus once you've tried it.

Finding most contacts / native and installed apps / browser bookmarks within 3-4 keypresses from the idle screen is simple.

Far easier than navigating round a file explorer application, trying to remember file names, where you've put applications and other content.

You can see here I've hit the number '7' which represents stuff starting with p/q/r or s, as you tap more keys the list dynamically changes based on the letter combinations. It's a huge time saving for finding contacts quickly if you've got a large address book.

Direct dialling and and shortcut dial numbers from the idle screen remain unaffected and there's a nice configuration /personalisation option to allow you to set left and right navigation to execute specific commands (eg. pressing right on the D-pad when on a contact name, causes the text messaging app to start, prefilled with that contact recipient).

In contrast Nokia's new Search app integrated into the active idle framework (see N81, N98 8GB) is more a shortcut to start the inbuilt Search application (which allows on-device file search and online searches) rather than direct searching/finding by tapping keys from the idle screen.

Symbian in Motion has a more detailed review.

Download for S60 here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Spinvox add social networking

Social Networks and micro blogging get the mobile voice treatment with Spinvox.

They've recently gone for a fresh new look on the website and have added jaiku, twitter and facebook integration of voice-to-text (previously I blogged on Spinvox's voice-to-blog integration).

So now you can speak your tweets, jaikus and update your facebook status when mobile via voice.

Please sort out the email issues though Spinvox - it's making the sign-up process complicated and protracted...!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Facebook Mobile : extended

Facebook announced deeper level mobile application integration and new markup tags for exclusive mobile content yesterday on their developers platform (as well as some further SMS integration). They also announced their banner ad funding global parter as Microsoft for a small equity stake and $240m. Russell Beattie has done a quick developer's viewpoint and is not impressed.

Facebook differentiated quickly from the rest of the pack (as social networks begin to commoditise), by launching their F8 developer platform. MySpace and now Friendster have followed suit.

This looks like a move to stay ahead of the web based competition. Any Social Network worth it's salt will have to integrate mobile very quickly or from the off (and do it properly). I'd love to know the page views from mobile though to see if it's increasing against fixed web access.

Facebook has some competition when it comes to mobile, with the established mobile social networks (mososo's) already up and running and catering to lots of different niches (dating / content-sharing etc..) let alone every man and his dog trying to bring a social networking element to their mobile service if it's not part of the proposition already ...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dashwire - Phone Content Organized

Dashwire looks interesting from both a messaging backup perspective and configuring the phone via a web front end such as setting speed dial options.

Whilst desktop clients are available for most smartphones that allow you to backup manage and restore your content, (thus avoiding the privacy issue), online web front end variants with personalising / sharing / configuring options are growing in number.

Dashwire seems to synchronise automatically for all content with little or no intervention from the user once set up (it's difficult to tell whether this is the case from the video). A flat rate data plan would therefore be a must.

The synchronisation of the phone database (eg. calls, messages eg. Thumbcrowd , etc..)) and the mobile browser bookmarks, images and video media to the cloud with a dashboard-like web interface seems quite compelling.

Shozu users for example can synch their mobile photos, images and contacts already, Dashwire adds in some further configuration / personalisation and message history options but is also the end destination (unlike Shozu). I hope Dashwire will allow other end destinations for mobile content eg. Flickr for images etc...

Aggregating phone "stuff" in one place has some advantages in my view, allowing users to configure and personalise their mobiles (ringtones/wallpapers) more easily as well as have a timeline/historical based context of their communication (eg. as in Lifeblogger ) ... but, (there's alway a but though isn't there ?), privacy and trust are big issues to overcome.

Does the utility of convenience, in this case managing my phone content via the web (and some possible new sharing options) outweigh the security/privacy issue ? Given loads of people and their dogs have social networking profiles and online web mail accounts. It seems it does...Or, people are unaware that their personal data is being used...(FB added sponsored adverts "expanded" in my news feed today - it would seem they have looked at my profile to push adverts I might be interested in).

Currently Dashwire is only available for Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices currently but I'll be testing it when it comes out on other platforms.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

iPhone gets SDK

One of the reasons I didn't think the iPhone was a true smartphone as described here was the lack of extensibility, (ie. 3rd party apps were'nt allowed).

The rampant hacking changed that of course, but was only an option for the determined geeks. Even they may have got tired of unlocking, over and again with each firmware update to get a couple of their favourite hacked native 3rd party apps on the device...

Apple, I'm pleased to see seems to have embraced native application development ... now the iPhone has a chance of getting some great ** official ** 3rd party apps (that won't break with firmware updates) taking it one step closer to being a proper smartphone.....

... from Apple's hot newsfeed ... Mr Jobs speaks again ...

Third Party Applications on the iPhone

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.

It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task. Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.

Some companies are already taking action. Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.

We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.


P.S.: The SDK will also allow developers to create applications for iPod touch. [Oct 17, 2007]

Next on the wishlist: 3G, which is no doubt coming (Q1 next year? maybe - here's hoping), just need to get that physical iMac like mini-keyboard slider ...

Nokia Touch UI and N810 tablet

I was at the Symbian smartphone show in London yesterday when Nokia made their touch based user interface announcement (as predicted here) that sits on top of and integrates with the S60 platform.

As also predicted they are continuing to bring sensors into the platform. (They already had done this wth the Nokia 5500)

They have decided to keep the S60 user interface/user experience for reasons of "familiarity" for the 100 million S60 users already ...hmmm ...I posted a while back that in my opinion adding a touch interface on top of S60 might be questionable - it may be an opportunity missed to simplify the large number of options, menus and sub-menus currently in the S60 ui. It's too early to tell from the video that was shown (and the details in the link below )so we'll have to wait and see in 2008. I ** really ** hope it's going to be as fast an interface as the iPhone.

More details here.

If all that wasn't enough the new Nokia internet tablet was also announced at the Web 2.0 summit... I like N800 a lot so am looking forward to playing with the slightly smaller N810 now with a proper keyboard , GPS and the familiar linux maemo OS.

Photo from Ari Jaaksi's blog...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Google updates mobile apps

Google have updated versions of their J2ME mobile Gmail and there is a new version of native mobile google maps for S60 edition3 users... (point your mobile browser here).

I started a post on this, but atmasphere has already done a great job in summarising the new features in his blog ...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Other mobile bits and bobs

Well it seems a busy day today ...First off there's an interesting announcement about Telefónica and Nokia signing a deal to get access to each other's mobile internet services. Nokia knows that Ovi and its music portal directly impact the operators - is this a bridging move perhaps ?

Then we had the announcement that my favourite mobile microblogging platform Jaiku has been bought by Google in its ongoing mobile service acquisition (ref: dodgeball, jotspot, android) ... as described in my earlier post today, one of jaikus compelling features is aggregating RSS feeds in a single place (including my Tweets).

... as a beta tester for the service I'm not sure what to think as they built a great little developer/tester community (hopefully this will survive in the transition). Its obviously fantastic news for the jaiku team who worked hard to make this service what it is ... and is an example of mobile startup success story. It may also impact Twitter. Jaiku comes from a mobile background and Twitter comes from a web background, this is very telling. I would imagine Twitter will beef up it's mobile functionality pretty soon :)

Finally, a little utility app for S60 3rd edition owners, announced from the Nokia beta labs team ... Device utility 1.1 with a desktop and phone interface...

It may come in handy to developers testing their apps, rather than exporting log files into their preferred IDE's. Reviews here... and here.

Monday, October 08, 2007

MoMo London (Oct 2007) - The Mobile Web

London's Mobile Monday event last night was on the mobile web - hosted by the W3C Mobile Web initiative. (Photo: Dan Applequist)

Very interesting it was too, especially if you believe that access to the web is/will be big on mobile phones.

It was a year since the last momo on mobile web (October 2006) and there was lots of debate around whether mobile web is taking off / has taken off a year on and of course the well publicised Novarra / Vodafone decision of transcoding web for mobile devices and other perceived barriers.

Anyone in the mobile industry is familiar with the Client vs. Browser debate and it's often a crucial decsion for mobile startups. Real-life war stories abound with startups that choose either or both and the implications of that decision. Thus, one of the most interesting points for me came from Flirtomatic's Mark Curtis and why they ditched **their J2ME client** early on (but still after wasting loads of development money and far too late in the day to his chagrin) - they burnt their sacred cow as Mark describes it and it was a painful lesson.

Number of page views on WAP is 4 times that on fixed web and increasing. Their advertising + value added service business model was proving profitable with (virtual gifting / currency like Habbo Hotel and Cyworld) and advertising revenues being split 50/50 by end of year.

Mippin was demo'd live and it looks interesting from the perspective of accessing RSS content on the mobile (news stories,blog posts, alerts multimedia content). Mippin makes this content available via the web browser, rendering it for the optimal user experience on a per-device basis. There's tons of RSS content available on the web and that which is not (yet) RSS, is easy enough to convert... Voting / community , personalisation and serendipity elements distinguish the service from your standard smartphone RSS reader bundled on the device..

Scott Beaumont also mentioned the important lessons they learned from Mobizines and have taken forward into Mippin.

As a side note, using RSS is becoming prevalent in my fixed and mobile web usage behaviour ... I'm aggregating several RSS feeds from different web services into my jaiku master feed eg. from Facebook / Flickr / Shozu uploads / Last.FM etc...at the moment I'm keeping my RSS blog reader (Bloglines) separate from my LifeStreaming apps but at some point it may make sense to merge them.

I expect more web services will adopt exporting the content via RSS in the near future.

Mippin goes live at the end of the week.

You can listen to the podcast of all the speakers here (give it a couple of days to be published).

Monday, October 01, 2007

Nokia buys Navteq

Seems like Nokia are also serious about the underlying enablers for mobile services (Intel inside?), having declared they are moving into the software/services arena recently...

In this case, by buying the mapping provider Navteq for a cool 5.4B euros - their biggest acquisition to date.

I guess Tele Atlas will now also come under further scrutiny for providers like google/microsoft/yahoo/garmin etc.. (Tom Tom bought Tele Atlas earlier this year for 1.8B euros).

** Update ** my mistake.Tom Tom have not yet bought Tele Atlas - they reconfirmed their bid price today (unsurprisingly), but given the Nokia deal above Tele Atlas may indeed hold out for more.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The future of Social Networks is mobile ...

This is a quote from Raymond Spanjard from Hyves speaking at PICNIC07. I picked this up thanks to Tom Hume's excellent blog, where he liveblogged the sharing your life panel discussion.

It would appear that Google having today bought Zingku agree, at least in part that mobile will be an important part of Social Networking (but their first experiment with Dodgeball did not bear fruit). Commentary on the acquisition here. There's been speculation-a-plenty about what Google were going to do about the "Facebook" problem which is already mobilised (Orkut is undergoing a facelift and this may be an addition that brings in the mobile side).

What I find interesting is the continuing trend of sharing media content between your social network. Social networks are primarily about communication but this is now being expanded to include content sharing (photos/music/video etc). This is the right way round in my opinion , communication first, then content.

From my own experience this is the main reason why I've drifted away from the personal dashboards (netvibes, igoogle, myYahoo etc..) towards the Social networking sites as my default browser homepage (although they're still useful).

Facebook / Bebo are good examples of this. You get your social network in place and start communicating, then you share fun and useful content through that network. The dashboard engines were quick to pick up on this (Pageflakes added the sharing-content option very early on) but they are still coming from a content-based approach rather than a communication-based starting point ie. get your content in place then start sharing it.

I expect we'll see more video/audio/photo/gaming-sharing functionalities appear in the (mobile) and social networking services in the very near future.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Integrated M(apps)

Here's an example of what I mean about integrated mobile applications on the device and its importance to the user experience.

I keep an eye out for examples of good mobile services that are integrated and don't make me think.

Take, LG's Viewty(KU990) mobile maps application. Note the navigation buttons and the zoom key - this is mimicking soft or hard keys on a touch screen device to navigate.. The application is ok, it's functional, but it's not taking advantage of the device touch screen capabilities (ie. no fingertip dragging). An opportunity missed...

Apple's mapping application is integrated with the touch gestures of the user-interface. Dragging a finger around moves the map. The zooming function requires a bit of learning via double tap or pinch/reverse pinch, but once known it's intuitive to use.

It's not really a fair comparison of course as Apple built the mapping application on the device and it's optimised to use the iPhone touch gestures, but someone obviously thought about this application carefully and dismissed the idea of navigational touch buttons. (This may be why it's one of the more popular iPhone apps.. A finger is easier and simpler to move the map around, not to mention faster.

I watched a friend use iPhone maps for the first time, never having used the device before (or any touchscreen device). He found his house in Devon and had zoomed in to roof-level view with minimal guidance in about 30 seconds. I didn't need to ask him what he thought, his reaction told me.

On a related note, a usability comparison between HTC Touch , N95 and the iPhone link.

Mobile Ads - experiment

Blyk the UK ad-funded MVNO launches today

... more detail at TechCrunch UK

It will be interesting to see if the saturated UK market can take another MVNO entrant albeit with a different business model. Here's commentary from the Telco2.0 team.

Friday, September 21, 2007

S60 Threaded SMS ... finally

It's a beta and you can download it here.

Supported devices are : Nokia N73. (Works but not fully tested with Nokia E50, E60, E61, E61i, E62, E70, N71, N75, N77, N80, N91, N92, N93, N93i.)Nokia N95 and 6290. Works but not fully tested with Nokia 5700 XpressMusic, Nokia 6110 Navigator, 6120 classic, 6121 classic, E90 Communicator, N76, N81, N81 8GB, N95 8GB.

Shows Nokia are listening to its S60 customers but not why it has taken ** so ** long to get this basic functionality given the number of complaints of it being missing as a feature on S60...

Next step is to get it out of beta and integrated into the S60 platform by default (not an add-on application).

Access to this functionality is either via going into the application (a bit longwinded unless you set it up in active idle or as a shortcut) or the more likely route of going into the Contacts (address Book) application where there is a new tab called "Conversation". Your conversations are grouped by people and then you can go into the conversation thread for the detailed view.

You can also remain in the context of the thread which is nice, to continue conversing via text. That's what the little pencil and dialogue box is there for.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fry's delight

For those British amongst us ...Stephen Fry is blogging.

Not only that but he's a mobile device geekhead, obsessed with smartphones who has written a whopper of a first post. It doesn't seem to be fake either... using words like expatiate, Tolkien-esque and 60's housing estate analogies it can only be him.

The depth of knowledge in his first post on smartphones is impressive for someone not in the industry. Being able to wrap that up in his highly witty sarcastic style makes for a very entertaining read.

I love his line on the device manufacturers compared to Apple "Why don’t the other bastards GET IT??". Aah, sentiments of my own (ref: earlier blog post on touch screen devices). He also comments why native apps will always be superior on the iPhone and why a keyboard is a must.

(My own request on the virtual keyboard which I can't get used to: Please Apple - take your new aluminium imac keyboard - shrink it to the iphone form factor and make it a landscape slider, - like the Helio Ocean (number pad slider not required) and have the virtual keyboard and virtual numeric keypad a la dialpad as options/preferences - ** per application **).Oh and don't make the device any thicker than it already is ...:)

His refreshing views are most welcome I hope he does one or two in his character styles - I'd love to see a Lord Melchit blog post on the trials and tribulations of mobile devices....

Monday, September 17, 2007

Engaging ?

Nokia's n-gage gaming platform marketing video ...

The quality and types of games will be crucial for launch (isn't it always with gaming platforms?), but particularly in this case with Nokia's re-launch of the n-gage brand. The games I've played so far are enjoyable enough, but that's been on an 3D graphics accelerated device (N95), what will they be like on the reference benchmark N73 I wonder.

I'm interested to see the online try-before-you-buy option and the community aspects as well, they're important components determining whether the service takes off in my view (assuming Nokia can get the device penetration in the markets quickly enough).

Or, will gamers buy alternative mobile devices with known branding tie-ins and established experience in the gaming world (PSP/Wii/XBox), such as Sony Ericsson's rumoured PlayStation phone (with motion sensing).

Does anyone choose a mobile phone based on the gaming experience of the device? I guess Nokia hope that its n-gage portal/experience might be another deciding factor that clinches the sale for the broad demographic that play games.

Here's a link to some of the titles soon to be released on n-gage. If only they would release Advance Wars :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

N95 8gb - Finding 'fings' faster

Looks like Nokia listened to the feedback and addressed some of the annoying issues with the n-series N95 handset launched earlier this year.

The prototype 8gb model I'm playing with here is not the finished product but the main improvement I immediately noticed is the speed of the interface. It's much quicker, navigating around and opening applications. The boot up time seems to be improved too. The screen size and poor battery life were the other major issues that have been addressed.

I'm particularly pleased about the speed increase as I have complained before that the N95 interface and opening applications was slower than treacle (even the N73 is faster). The new N95 8g interface albeit without the whizzy transitions (likely coming in S60 edition 3 feature pack 2 for models next year) responds much quicker now at a button press. I hope Nokia take this learning into their future models when it comes to the trade off, of selecting the hardware, memory/cpu/screen size versus cost and the overall user experience, as some might question why Nokia have had to produced two N95 models to get the experience right.

Taking photos is improved markedly over the old N95, but it's still taking too long to start the camera app. I counted 5 seconds from pressing the camera icon and by the time you've focused on your subject - she's likley wandered off as in the case of my daugther. Perhaps some software tweaks may improve it further. That said, this is a problem with lots of other camera-phones too, especially compared to digital cameras.

So far I've not had "out of memory issues" on the newer model which plague my older N95 (effectively meaning I cannot multi-task) and a familar problem for most current N95 users. The screen is also bigger, brighter and an additional shortcut has made it into the active idle applications (so you have 7 instead of 6).

A much more comprehensive review is over at AllAboutSymbian

What I wanted to look at in more detail and the subject of this post was the search application moving to the idle screen.

You can now search directly from the home/idle screen (see first photo and you will see the magnifying glass icon) both for files and content on the device (mails, contacts etc..) as well as online search with Yahoo and Microsoft search engines...This saves quite a few key presses depending on how you accessed the application beforehand.

Also what has changed slightly is the way device and online search works. In the newer version of the app, the letters/keywords you type in the box dynamically change the results, constantly narrowing down the search results as shown in the pics below on typing 'm' and then 'a', then 'p' etc...

This is similar to how the excellent Qix search application works on S60 (although you can start searches directly from the idle screen with Qix and there are some clever features where most used search keywords are dynamically reordered based on usage ie. float to the top of the results).

This general method of searching is faster, simpler and and more intuitive for the user - it is a horziontal search layer across all apps and services and makes much more sense than stovepipe-type searches.

With more and more media being stored on the device such as images, videos and music and the ability to use the search as a "shortcutting" method (eg. for texting the same contact repeatedly) I suspect this application will get used a lot by N95 8gb users...

More mobile video search

About a month ago I posted on Seeqpod - a beta mobile streaming service with a vast online music catalogue cleverly aggregated through internet links rather than holding the content themselves. To find this content you just simply started searching for a track name /artist/ album or any tag associated with the music. This means you can pretty much find any song and listen to it (assuming mobile network or WLAN coverage) when you're mobile.

vTap by Veveo is a mobile video search engine that effectively lets you find and play and video on the go. Aggregating the millions of video clips on the web, the service makes them mobile-friendly for streaming playback with a nice predictive search interface on the front to help narrow down search results quickly and dynamically.

Windows mobile and iPhone are currently supported with other phones coming soon. The service works via the mobile browser (http://vtap.com). To get an idea of how it works there's an emulator on the website.

Add it to the growing ways of getting streaming and downloaded video (besides Youtube, Google video etc..) onto your mobile device.

Screenshots below.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Couple of Moto links ...

"Speaking to investors at a conference yesterday, Motorola CFO Tom Meredith indicated that the company is altering its strategy to regain solid footing in the wireless market. He commented that Motorola has taken note of the iPhone's success in bringing two technologies, the touch screen and Wi-Fi, to market and is considering adding them to future Motorola devices. Another part of its new strategy will have Motorola developing a wide range of devices that will appeal to all people from mass market to enterprise instead of focusing on one stand-out device." Source linked to from here here.

Motorola are rumoured to be working on a super-specced touch (smart) phone. I liked the RIZR Z8 based on Symbian UIQ (although form factor of Motos keypads is not for me) but I hope the new one runs off Linux as reported in the link.

As mentioned previously - it's not 'if' but 'when' with the other Device OEM's now. Question is will they be able to compete with the benchmark, as touch screen devices rightly or wrongly are always going to now be compared to the iPhone. We've already seen a glimpse of Nokia's prototype in the recent GoPlay event (shame it wasn't the Aeon).

It's refreshing to see Motorola bring the developers conference to Europe as well and encourage 3rd party application developers on both Motos existing and new platforms (motomagx).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cash Job

Well, well - a quick, responsive decision to the price drop announced yesterday ... an effort at appeasing the loyal Apple customer-base.

To all iPhone customers:

I have received hundreds of emails from iPhone customers who are upset about Apple dropping the price of iPhone by $200 two months after it went on sale. After reading every one of these emails, I have some observations and conclusions.

First, I am sure that we are making the correct decision to lower the price of the 8GB iPhone from $599 to $399, and that now is the right time to do it. iPhone is a breakthrough product, and we have the chance to 'go for it' this holiday season. iPhone is so far ahead of the competition, and now it will be affordable by even more customers. It benefits both Apple and every iPhone user to get as many new customers as possible in the iPhone 'tent'. We strongly believe the $399 price will help us do just that this holiday season.

Second, being in technology for 30+ years I can attest to the fact that the technology road is bumpy. There is always change and improvement, and there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you'll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon. The good news is that if you buy products from companies that support them well, like Apple tries to do, you will receive years of useful and satisfying service from them even as newer models are introduced.

Third, even though we are making the right decision to lower the price of iPhone, and even though the technology road is bumpy, we need to do a better job taking care of our early iPhone customers as we aggressively go after new ones with a lower price. Our early customers trusted us, and we must live up to that trust with our actions in moments like these.

Therefore, we have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Details are still being worked out and will be posted on Apple's website next week. Stay tuned.

We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone customers. We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple.

Steve Jobs
Apple CEO

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nokia's announcements today -29th Aug

The most interesting point for me today, wasn't the batch of new phones (N95 8G, N81 etc... the separate new n-gage gaming and music portals, the Search application from the idle screen, the revised multimedia menu or even the "copying" of apple's iphone touch interface for S60 in 2008(see the photo example in the webcast here).

All of this was pre-leaked, known already via the inter-galactic superweb or I previously had posted on it.

For me, it was the announcement of Nokia's umbrella brand Ovi which will bring Nokia's own n-gage and music portals, social networking and internet services all together in one place with both internet, desktop and mobile access (on the mobile under a single application and across multiple OS platforms S60, series40 etc....)

Why is this interesting ? Well it shows Nokia are aggressively moving into the content services space (again - remember Clubnokia) as they say the "Device is not enough". Experience of the service matters.
Traditionally this space has been occupied and owned by the Operators who have previously controlled the content services going onto the device (at least preinstalled). Think 3's X Series for example. Some might view this move as disintermediating the operators and nudging them further towards the bitppipe, although Nokia claim Ovi is complimentary to the Operators own content and services strategy.

We've already seen that this is potentially a sensitive issue with Operators who have invested in building and offering either (a) their own home-grown branded content services or (b) 3rd party content services as exclusives.
The Operators also often subsidise the actual handsets to attract and retain end customers ... relationships between handset manufacturers and Operators is finely balanced ...

It seems to me, not just from today's Ovi announcement from Nokia but from other sources too eg. internet branded services being preinstalled (Vox, Flickr, blogger, GMaps, MySpace, eBay) and integrated into mobiles, open unrestricted internet access with flat rate data and new entrants into the marketplace (Apple-iPhone with revenue sharing(?), Google-gPhone) that the aforementioned "traditional" operator/handset manufacturer relationship is likely to change markedly in the very near term.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Jaiku - new client released for S60

Jaiku's new client is out of beta - and it is vastly improved over the old version.

Here's some of the new features of the S60 client.

* The choice between longer battery life or more up-to-date presence (a much requested feature).
* Reading and writing comments from and to your contacts.
* Go back in time! Using the ’stream view’ for your contacts, you can see what they were doing and saying in the past, not just their most recent post.
* More than just Jaikus! You can also see when your contacts have posted to flickr.
* Improved presence view, to make the most of your screen real-estate.
* A whole raft of usability improvements, based on what our users have been telling us they need, including an even easier to use interface, and a progress meter, so you can see what’s happening.
* More optimal data transfer and connection maintenance, giving you more bang for your wireless data dollar.
* …and all the essential (but not that interesting) stuff like bug fixes, speed improvements, that sort of thing.
* Oh, and let’s not forget - a spiffy new manual for this client.

Features from the previous release are still there as well:

* The live contact list works just like your phone’s built-in phonebook, and enhances the list with the buddy icons and real-time presence of your Jaiku contacts
* Post new Jaikus and have them immediately appear on the Web and your contacts’; phones
* Share your availability based on your phone’s ring profile
* Share your location based on free naming of cell towers
* Option to share your phone calendar (choose to share full titles of events or just when you are free/busy)
* Option to share number of nearby people based on detection of Bluetooth phones
* Switch Jaiku online or offline at any time
* Easy wizard guides you through the setup
* Automatic roaming detection alerts you when you are roaming away from your home network

If you don't have an S60 phone, you can always use the widsets (J2ME) version or mobile browser access at http://m.jaiku.com (which also works on iPhones).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

iPhone specific Facebook

Whilst the Apple fanboy, Mac developers and seriously creative hackers are finding out ways and workarounds to build and install native applications on the iPhone, the wider web services are developing iPhone versions of their website (320 x 480 pixels) to work through the iPhone Safari browser.

iPhone Facebook is the latest in a recent spurt of web services to add an official version of the site (del.icio.us, Bloglines, Digg, StumbleUpon , Ning etc... being others). What's impressive with the iPhone version of Facebook is that it behaves like a **native application** although it's accessed via Safari. Arguably it lays out the main features and functions better than the main website too!

Of course you need to be online on a network to access the site which is a disadvantage over a native iPhone app that can work both in offline and online mode and have deeper level integration across applications (eg a game for example). However accessing Social Networking sites that's the whole point in my view... you need to be online to see the latest events from and interact with your Social Network.

As a side note. Facebook has replaced my Google ig and Netvibes homepage (I used to switch between them) when I logged in to my desktop. Why ?

Personalisation dashboards sites like Netvibes, iGoogle and Pageflakes whilst useful, are based around content and alerts. Without the email widgets (ie. communication alerts) these dashboard sites would be of lesser value in my opinion. Social Network sites however ** are ** based around communication and sharing from the off (also including the important feature of gossip). Content widgets and blog/news/content alerts can then be added afterwards eg. Flickr, eBay, etc..

It's just more fun to view what your Social Network(SN) are doing than looking at a weather update isn't it ? - as it's more likley to be the start of a conversation. (If you really want a weather update, add a weather widget to your favourite SN - there's bound to be a hundred or so).

Also because email or should I say Facebook email is already integrated by default - I tend to value those emails over other emails held in other platforms because they are from my immediate Social Network. No spam! (Although it would be nice to have an aggregated Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail access in Fb - unlikely though I know - see the point below).

Netvibes at least recognised this quickly and now have a Facebook module, but what happens when the next hot Social Networking site comes along or the major web email providers decline access via Netvibes' platform (eg. Yahoo, hotmail or Google) I wonder..?

So why not use Netvibes with web mail aggregation (whilst it continues) as well as a facebook module ? Well, I like the Fb environment more, it's setup way better for sharing comments, video and photos, turn-based games etc.. than other platforms... this is in part due to the application development environment Fb have built.

Facebook also took some criticism in being a closed / walled garden ie. you couldn't get your highly personalised data out of the Fb platform. People spend time building up their Social Networks, profiles and adding content into the community - this was/is a big concern but is being addressed ...

Facebook have added RSS output for some of the events. For example I've added my Fb friends statuses and friends posts as RSS feed alerts to jaiku. Others Fb feeds are sure to be made available so the above concern is starting to lessen.

Update ... I see Netvibes as of today have also recently launched an iPhone version of their site at http://m.nv1.netvibes.com ... they're keepin' up.

(MOSH)OSO, Flickr and Mippin links

I'm late to post this I know...

Nokia goes MoSoSo (Mobile Social Software) with MOSH a mobile social networking / user-generated content community call.

Use (ALLACCESS) to login. It will be interesting to see if it is
(a) successful and if so ...
(b) merges with Nokia's acquisition of Twango and
(c) how it competes with other online social networking sites (bebo, myspace, facebook, xing etc..) and user-generated content sites run by a couple of the European Operators such as SeeMeTV / Look at Me.

For NSeries fans with the native photo-uploading client (called Share Online) which is used from the Gallery; a new version is available (v2.0) which allows photo tagging and descriptions and has an easier/improved provisioning process with Yahoo/flickr but you will have to start over.

Flickr by the way is rumoured to be offering video uploading (finally!) and sharing soon (presumably to compete with youTube, mySpace etc..), so we'll have to see if the Share online client will also allow video upload. This would then be a native alternative to Shozu for getting multimedia in different formats off your nSeries to different destinations.

Last but not least, Refresh Mobile who developed the super-slick Mobizines application (mobile magazine reader with personalisation and sharing features) that works on loads of handsets are working on a new service called Mippin. The beta is open now. Sign up at the link.