Friday, May 25, 2007

Charge of the Light Brigade

Battery life technology is struggling to keep up with the pace of mobile technology in general.

We've got phones with GPS, 5 mp zooming cameras, sensors, graphical chips , NFC and the like as well as advanced mobile screens and mobile software (OS, applications like tv, video, web browsing etc..) requiring more powerful processing. These conspire to suck up the battery in the blink of an eye.

I end up charging my phone once a day and am used to doing it, but talking with other people, it seems most, ** expect ** their phone to last days without a charge and use the camera, write texts and bluetooth files around as well as make and receive calls in the normal manner.

Perhaps this is because we have had the earlier experience with our previous old mobiles (now considered basic) which lasted days without charge and were used for just calling and texting.

If we want people to use advanced features and services on their mobiles the battery life issue needs to be solved.

Whilst this problem is not new and all the handset manufacturers are busy working on solutions (it seems for years), Motorola recently announced a patent for solar recharging perpetually through the lcd screen so constantly topping up the charge.

Other previous solutions included the mobile casing itself having a solar panel on it or an external solar charger that can be attached through the pop-port or usb/mini-usb. By using the LCD screen itself would seem a neater solution ... if it actually works...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Mobilising Social Networks

The Telegraph reports Yahoo may buy Bebo (Facebook, having declined Yahoo's acquisition offer last year).

Whether it's true or not we'll have to wait and see. What's a potential acquisition like this this got to do with mobile though?

Network Operators see Social Networking as a way of extending mobile communications & services to their customers, beyond just access to these 3rd party sites... myFaves by T-Mobile US is a (homegrown) example, whereby a mini-social network (5 of your friends/family/contacts) are free to call.

Initial high-profile partnership deals by Orange/Bebo and Vodafone/MySpace in Europe have also recently taken place as they test the waters of promoting access to mobile versions (with limited functionality) of the web based social networks.

Facebook, flickr, and flirtomatic etc.. have mobile clients or access via the mobile browser already (mobile web). Even business networks sites such as Xing I note have also recently announced mobile access (when's the mobile version of LinkedIn coming I wonder ?)...

The social network sites (Facebook, MySpace, Bebo etc..) know their users will inevitably want mobile access to their own and their friends homepages, as they are a form of communication and identity. So, staying in touch with your peer group and it's changes via the homepage is vital for the digital native today. Being able to access this whilst mobile is the driver.

Yahoo are already in the mobile on-device-client/portal space with Yahoo Go (1.0) and more recently Yahoo Go (2.0) as well as providing mobile browser access via for several of the Yahoo services. Flickr (if you perceive Flickr as a social network based around photos) is already integrated into the Yahoo Go 2.0 client.

Adding large, popular social network(s) into their mobile offering might seem attractive to be able to further leverage potential preinstallation of the Yahoo Go client (via handset manufacturers) and more deals with the European and north American Network Operators/Carriers.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Apps, Handsets and Os's

It's been an interesting week for mobile announcements.

First off, Sun announced their open source RIA Java FX platform for mobile. Is it too little too late and will it make a real difference (reference Savaje)? I tend to agree with David Beers that Motorola have a better chance of distributing Linux and Java than Sun.

Ubuntu mobile was released, targetting small internet devices (eg. Nokias N800) and not mobile phones directly (like Trolltech's Greenphone Linux platform).

On the device front, Motorola are getting back into the high-end game to help try and regain some of their lost market share in this segment. Sneak previews of the N81 and N82 also appeared on the web (and then taken down) and Sony Ericsson announced the P1i (successor to the P990i).

Google also announced an update to Google Maps for Mobile for UK residents to include Google Local search results and route directions.

For those on S60 platform(2nd and 3rd edition) check out S60 application blog for Best Profiles for a comprehensive review. It's a nice little app that has got both basic and advanced functions for very specific profiles setting. Now, all we need is a sensor in the phone so that when I turn it over onto it's face in meetings it goes to silent profile automatically... :)

Speaking of sensors, I'm sure we'll see more sensors in phones and the API's to create interesting 3rd party apps - the Nokia 5500 has already got a 3D motion sensor but mobiface reports on Sandisks new mp3 player that skips tracks when you shake it... how long before we see this type of feature in mobile's ?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Web 2.0 - got your mobile channel yet ?

Many Web 2.0 startup companies looking to maximise their footprint and distribution know that a mobile channel for their service is vital.

Whilst we can expect an official mobile youTube very shortly (alas for tinytube) and versions of mySpace, eBay, facebook and flickr are already mobile (albeit with reduced interactive functionality)... twitter is the latest to join the ranks....

Point your mobile browser to

If you want a twitter mobile client , Twitlet is clean and simple whilst Twibble allows geotagged twitters from your mobile (handy for the N95 with built in GPS). Others can see where you twittered from on twittervision.

A sidenote : it seems to me that more of the mobile version of these sites are going for and not the domain name...why not both ?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Music and mobile

Carnival of the Mobilists 71 is out, this week hosted by Silicon Valley Himalayan Expedition.

An interesting post Why I Won't Use a Music Phone (Yet).
The points are well made, transferring any large amounts of music to a mobile even initially is a nightmare...doing it on a regular basis is even more hassle. The current batch of available software doesn't help, but read the comments for some better suggestions.

Currently I swap out SD memory cards (each with a playlist of around 40 songs on them). This is not an ideal solution either as (a)I often store video clips and images on the memory card as well... if I want to view these I often have the wrong memory card in and (b) initial set up and transfer from pc is painful and slow.

Once the music is **on** my N95 I'm happy with the audio playback quality now that I can use decent shure 3.5mm earphones. (Finally!)

I've been looking for a solution that stores my music in the cloud and allows me to download playlists/tracks back into the mobile or stream it song by song to see if it is even feasible.

One such service I've recently used is MeTracks (in beta). The website audio player and upload interface is very 37signals ie. simple, practical and fairly intuitive.
I've yet to be able to test the mobile access part though.

Flat rate data for such a service on your mobile would be a must as would be W-LAN or at least 3G/HSDPA transfer - 10 tracks of mp3's is already 40mb - is this going to be possible in real life conditions ? Streaming requiring network coverage which can be patchy in and out of buildings when mobile may also presents problems for streaming playback.

You can find more on meTracks service at SMS Text News. I'll be able to mention another similar streaming service that may also solve the above problem. The work you've already put into building, labelling and organising your digital music collection on your PC is not wasted as you access/transfer it to mobile...(not Orb).

One other point about music on mobiles, is I've noticed many more people on public transport no longer have the white earbuds (indicating the ipod) compared to say, a year ago. I see more and more people using their phones - particularly Sony/Ericsson so the Walkman brand seems to be working...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Microsoft's Silverlight and Mobile

Microsoft released Silverlight yesterday - a cross-platform, cross-browser fast web runtime with all the components and toolsets already available for developers.

The integration of the runtime with other OS's and browsers (eg. Firefox) for me indicates Microsoft acknowledge that they have to support other platforms from the start to gain critical mass and that includes mobile platforms (albeit only windows mobile to start with).

- here's an excerpt from Techcrunch's reporter who was at the launch.

Silverlight was demonstrated today on a Windows mobile device as part of a new service that the NBL have built. The demo showed both Silverlight applications and media streaming running on a mobile phone - so Silverlight even at this stage is about more than just the desktop browser and desktop market. With windows mobile and Symbian now the two dominant mobile platforms, I can’t see any reasons why we won’t see Silverlight on Symbian as well - thus spreading the platform across the vast majority of both desktops and mobiles, something that alternative platforms have not managed to do."

Certainly makes things interesting for Adobe in the Apollo/Flash/Ajax (for Pc desktop /PC Browser) and Flex/FlashLite (for mobile) application development arena. The new S60 Nokia web runtime environment may have some competition too come to think of it ....