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,, 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 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.