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
To validate the forwarding destination (eg. flickr, facebook etc..) an account needs to be set up and is similar to with sms validation code entry required on

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 After that, any photo or video clip sent to 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,,, Pikeo, and 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 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

“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

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.