Thursday, March 29, 2007

Twitter's inexorable rise

The ultimate hello world example ? or the biggest timewaster currently available :)

As twitter grows exponentially the IRC/Broadcast/IM/SMS/Chat type service is attracting developers through their nice open API making stuff like :
Twittervision (been around for a little while and seems to be reasonably stable.)

For firefox users : post directly from the tool bar.

For Yahoo desktop widget users : get your desktop client here.

Comprehensive list of twitter desktop stuff here

The personalised home pages such as netvibes, google ig also have twitter update widgets.

Will Twitter survive and become a next mass market web 2.0 type phenomenon for the online/connected world...or is it racing towards a cliff and into the deadpool ?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Zen-zui mobile phone user interface

Apparently, it's a closed proprietary user interface using its own markup language.Oh dear.

The company was spun out of Microsoft and secured it's own VC funding with Microsoft retaining a small stake...

The concept though is similar to Alltell's Celltop and even a passing resemblance to Nokia's VC funded widgets/widsets.

Monday, March 26, 2007

What's the most important application on your mobile phone?

The Dialler application ?, the Messaging client ?, maybe the mp3 player? No for me at least it's :

The Contact / Address book.

You try remembering all those numbers and contact details. In my view even the oh-so-important messaging client is consumed by the all-powerful address book.

Ok, so the Dialler application is important too, but without knowing the number to dial it's useless. There's no communication without contact.

Without an address book, the modern smartphone becomes a media-player (video, mp3) or camera or just a pager to receive incoming calls. This one application is vital to all mobile phones, simply because most people will not both to commit to memory 10 phone numbers let alone 50 or more.

The thing about the address book is it your friend / family / peer / business / social / and emergency-support network all rolled into one. Any you carry it round with you.

What baffles me is why it's taking so long for the handset and OS manufacturers to offer some simple / basic functionality that's been missing for years, let alone any type of Innovation in the address / contacts book.

Multiple Sorting / Filtering / Grouping functions based on behaviour, time of day etc....are missing on most phones I see and basic algorithms to float most used contacts to the top of the list (from the call records db) is also missing.

Whilst S60 is not as bad as some, ask people how they get their most used contacts to the top of the list and they start saying things like I prefix it with an 'a' or an underscore (_).... ?!! Users should not have to make these types of workarounds. Not everyone decides to set a quickdial key even if the phone supports it.

There are some 3rd party startups like Jaiku that have started dabbling in the contact/address book space (albeit under the 'presence' moniker)- but in the meantime you can leave your comments over at Stephen Johnstone's Nokia blog about what you think could be improved ...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Carnival of the Mobilists 65

This weeks Carnival of the Mobilist is at Golden Swamp.

Lots of interesting posts this week.

First impressions of touch screen interface from LG KE850

Whilst the LG KE850 Prada is super-slim and really does look like a small thin bar of dark Chocolate I was a little skeptical to see how this first-gen consumer touch based user interface phone would behave when used in anger to actually make calls and send texts. Verdict. OK. Click on images for larger view.

It's not fair to compare it to the N95 functionally, but sizewise it's the same form factor roughly height and width size as the N95 but half the thickness. It feels ** very ** nice to hold. Apologies for the rubbish dark photos.

There is a wow factor of touching something and things happening on the screen - more so than pen based touch screen mobile devices. Of course you feel more connected physically to the ui through your finger rather than a stylus. The LG interface is Flash based MMI coupled with the touch screen.

Dragging clock face on the idle screen with your little finger is nice (but functional? - not really). Tap the clock face though and it flips to be able to set the alarm... much more useful. Consider the steps you have to go through with your current mobile phone to set the clock alarm.

The user interface was relatively quick though, touch an icon and the response was surprisingly fast.

Calling is fine using the kepypad. Texting is more difficult and slower, (harder than using a numeric keypad). Surprisingly there is no virtual keyboard option for touch typing (why not ?), you end up having to tap the "3" key 3 times to get an "f" character. Sometimes the touch screen does not always recognise the finger or thumb touch...Scrolling through lists needs some improvements too and does not look as playful as the forthcoming iPhone (with inertia and flickability).

Could you use it with one hand. Yes I could ... but it was not as quick as using a normal mobile keypad. Given a little more time I think a user would speed up in one-handed mode, just a case of practice.

Initial skepticism has been replaced with enthusiasm despite some bugs and issues I expected the LG KE850 to be a lot worse than it actually was.

These types of interfaces open up new multimodal possibilities and importantly you can do the basics that mobiles were invented for (calling and receiving calls).

LG are already working on the next version of this phone, the wrinkles will no doubt be fixed and further improvements on scrolling and entering text...

I'm betting we will see touch-screen devices from Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung later this year as they also enter the fray and offer touch screen devices into their portfolios.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spin-my-Blog Post


Voice-to-Screen messaging - powered by SpinVox

Not a very riveting blog post is it ?

What's remarkable is the above was spoken by me to a SpinVox voicemail box that converted my speech "test" into a blog post and posted it here on blogger within a minute automagically...

Submitting blog posts when mobile has been around for a while, with the various blogging sites allowing posts via email and MMS from the mobile phone including the ability to upload pictures/videoclips with your blog post text...

... if you've ever tried to submit a text based blog post from your mobile phone in this way, you'll find it frustrating for the usual reasons, typing anything of length, anything more than a 160 characters (a la SMS) using the messaging client is just too bothersome to do on a mobile phone keypad. Which is why in the past I've ended up only blogging cameraphone snapshots when mobile with only one or two words of text...

What's nice about the SpinVox's service above, for me, is the speed, flexibility and most of all the fact they are using the one feature all mobile phones excel at... Voice ... to make mobile (text) blogging a reality.(You can either have your posts published directly via Spinvox or have them saved as draft - for post editing...)

Spinvox for a while have had a voicemail to text/email service (spin-my-vmail), but recently added three new features, spin-my-blog (as above), spin-my-memo (get notes/memos spoken sent as email) and spin-my-broadcast (group text messaging).

This kind of innovation of coupling the best features of mobile phones with the latest and greates web 2.0 type services is of interest... I hope we see more of these types of services emerging in the near future.

Now I just need to do my own mashup of twitter and spinvox to experience microblogging on steroids...:)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

G- Phone update

I've found myself blogging a lot about the new mobile phones recently, probably because of the constant stream of great new devices coming to the market this year...

and just like the iPhone rumours last year - mockups are surfacing on what Google's phone might look like and the OS and features it may have.... here's the latest two one below and one here...(thanks to RM for the link). Will it be ad-supported and thus free ? Who knows... we'll have to wait and see.

click on link for larger image

(note previous speculation also envisaged a device more Blackberry / Blackjack like with a QWERTY keyboard...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

LG Prada phone user interface - couple of links

A couple of links to the LG prada phone interface ... (several more on youtube).

T3 managed to get their hand's on LG's prada phone coming out this month.The phone has a touch screen and flash-based user interface.

Whilst we have yet to see how the new touch based phones (using fingers/thumb) will handle in the wild (as opposed to the pen type PDA user interfaces), this second video shows it is possible to do things one handed on a touch based ui ...

How the applications work via this interface and more importantly whether the new breed of touch based ui phones actually work well as phones we'll have to wait and see. LG are already rumoured to be working on the follow up...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Replica iPhone interface for Windows Pocket PC

** Update ** - Unfortunately the video has been removed from YouTube, but some screenshots are still available (click on link in title)... I'm sure someone will have downloaded it somewhere, so it may come back !

..what impressed me most about this video, is not the copy of the iPhone UI itself (impressive as it was) but how quick the Windows PPC applications (behind the iPhone icons) started when touched...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What have the Mobile Operators ever done for us ?

In the spirit of Monty Python's Life of Brian, William Volk over at ForumOxford(CEO of MyNuMo in America) has a great post on what have the mobile operators ever done for us ?

Reg: They've bled us white, the bastards. They've taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers' fathers.

Stan: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers.

Reg: Yeah.

Stan: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers' fathers.

Reg: Yeah. All right, Stan. Don't labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!

Xerxes: Text Messaging?

Reg: What?

Xerxes: Text Messaging, you know SMS.

Reg: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.

Commando 3: And premium billing.

Stan: Oh, yeah, premium billing, Reg. Remember what digital content sales on the internet used to be like?

Reg: Yeah. All right. I'll grant you the SMS and the Premium Billing are two things that the Mobile Operators have done.

Matthias: And the games!

Reg: Well, yeah. Obviously the games. I mean, the games go without saying, don't they? But apart from the SMS, the premium billing, and the games--

Commando: Ringtones.

Xerxes: Wallpapers.

Commandos: Huh? Heh? Huh...

Commando 2: WAP.

Commandos: Ohh...

Reg: Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.

Commando 1: And the video.

Commandos: Oh, yes. Yeah...

Francis: Yeah. Yeah, that's something we'd really miss, Reg, if the Mobile Operators left. Huh.

Commando: Content Portals.

Stan: And you can sell 15 seconds of music for $2.99, Reg.

Francis: Yeah, they certainly know how to create a content market. Let's face it. They're the only ones who could on the internet!

Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

Reg: But apart from the SMS, the Billing, Games, Wallpapers, WAP, Video, Content Portals, a $billion content market, and billions of subscribers, what have the Mobile Operators ever done for us?

Xerxes: Created the whole mobile industry?

Reg: Oh, mobile industry -- Shut up!