Monday, February 25, 2008

LinkedIn goes mobile

LinkedIn finally gets a mobile web version (including iPhone version).

I've been accessing the (fixed)website in the past through the mobile browser and as you would expect it was slow, clunky and pretty unuseable even on a 3.5G connection, zoomed out...but now there's a mobile optimised version - much better.

Point your mobile web browser to:

More details from the official LinkedIn blog here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mobile Podcasting made easier

I've advocated over the last two years that one of the most simple to understand concepts of mobile phones is dialling a number and speaking.

There's no going online via a mobile web browser and fiddly URL's, no client to find and run (however good it is), just dial a number and speak.

Everyone gets this and the mobile phone user interface is highly optimised for this usecase - so why not use it more for creating and accessing mobile content ?

My few regular readers :) will know I think that voice is a ** vastly ** underutilised channel for mobile application and content mashups as alluded to in previous posts here, here and here.

So I liked this Voice to RSS service provided by BlogTalkRadio.
The output is an RSS feed of an mp3 enclosure of the podcast. The RSS feed is a uniqe URL based on your mobile number suffixed (thus I prefer not to link to the RSS feed here)...but you can see an example from Robert Scoble's blog post.

It's simple and quick - and there's no sign in (although I believe it's a feature for those that want it, that's coming soon). Similar to some of the services integrating mobile voice as notes, memos, blogs and tweets with companies like MySay/ReQall/Twitter/Utterz and SpinVox, this new service allows a very quick way of podcasting from the mobile.

Beware if you try it as the number to call is in the US, so might be a little pricey.

There are other ways to achieve podcasting from mobile, but as a quick and dirty comparison I uploaded a voice note from within the voice recorder app on my mobile to my public channel on Ovi for sharing.

It's not as simple as dialling a number and speaking your podcast. It's uploaded and stored as .wav file rather than mp3, also you have to have an Ovi account of course - whereas with BlogTalkRadio no account is needed. You can then listen to the uploaded voiceclip via RSS if you are subscribed to that channel in your RSS reader.

Will any of these types of mobile services including podcasting make it to the mass market? (although if you can download a podcast of the daily BBC news to your iPod - one might argue its already mainstream).
I listen to podcasts regualrly on the daily commute and this service makes it a lot easier to actually create a podcast from your mobile and then broadcast it on the web via RSS.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Running to stand still

Battery life in mobile 'smart' phones has not kept up with the functional technology advancements such as embedding more radios, GPS chips and larger screens within the device.

As a real life example using my phone at the weekend on a 2 hour long car journey using GPS and GMaps (Nokia maps currently charges a small fee for directions - which is fine but I thought I'd try the free alternative), downloading a 2 minute video from YouTube into the device, then playing it and listening to a couple of music tracks - took the battery from full to 2 bars remaining within this short period of time.

Fair enough, as it was pretty intensive and not a typical usecase, but arriving at my destination and locking the car, I overhead two teenagers nearby in an exchange.
"No you can't borrow my phone - I've only got 1 bar left, I'm almost outta juice - I need it". I wonder how that teenager had been using his mobile and when he had last charged it, (note: separate insight of how teenagers share their mobile phones).

I think there's a consumer perception that a mobile phone should last days with a single charge (including me) - this is a problem for smartphones that come under any kind of heavy use, especially when using streaming video, mp3 download, gaming, broadcast mobile TV and other device and network resource intensive features.

So a couple of announcements caught my eye recently:
Kinetic-based mobile phone movement:

... and movement based charging (this time from a knee brace).

PS.Currently I'm skeptical on the Nokia N96 and its' 950mAh battery announced at MWC last week ... until I can play with it in real life scenarios. The N95 battery issue was a big issue until a firmware update and the N958gb version (just about acceptable for me even with WiFi scanning and bluetooth off). The iPhone despite its media-centric stance/optimisation ( also suffers a little with quick draining battery under heavy usage in similar circumstances - I wonder how it will cope with a 3G radio as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Shozu gets an update

... to version 4.0 (I only checked the Symbian version) - out are the contacts back up and zucasts, in is a simpler interface with end-destinations configuration ... point your mobile browser to

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Second pillar of Ovi revealed - Share

**Update** - share online fixed to add Ovi as a service provider and according to the Ovi product manager at MWC - monthly upload limits may be relaxed in the near future.

The door to Nokia's Internet services opened a bit further this week with Share online (Nokia's twango acquisition) hitting the web, following on from the UK music store.

Ovi share is based around media sharing (privately or publicly) similar to Flickr for Photos and YouTube for video.

All the usual elements are there: private / public group sharing / widgets for republishing media / email and MMS upload / RSS feeds and social networking elements / media editing functions / developer api (although I didn't delve into this to see how advanced it is). There's a 100 different media file types for upload, covering all the main formats.

Strangely Nokia's share online app is **still** being updated to include Ovi Share (but the link on the homepage to install the new version, whilst working, did not add anything new (Flickr and Vox are still the only service providers)).

I got round this by adding an end destination Ovi channel as an email destination in Shozu so can post pics/vids directly to Ovi without Share online, but it's a bit annoying I have to use a 3rd party app to do this when Nokias own media uploading app doesn't!

...The web based editing (eg. rotate, size, brightness) and vizualisation (eg. slideshow) tools for images are very basic unlike Piknik integrated within Flickr Pro, but Flickr has been going a couple of years - so I'm sure we'll see an evolution with these embedded functions.

The monthly upload limit is disappointing as well, but presumably we'll see a pay-for-extra-upload-storage-and-features business model coming. Another slight peeve is when viewing slideshows or listening to audio clips uploaded into your channels, clicking on the media forces a new browser window open to view it /listent to it - in line listening or viewing is much better user experience.

Trawling through the forums about feature requests from users it looks like Nokia are aware of the need for deeper level integrations (Ovi Facebook apps are mentioned for example)to play nicely with other web platforms and media web sites, so the Ovi share team are going to be very busy over the next 12 months.

From the mobile standpoint it would have been nice to have deeper level integration there too, eg. being able to dial a number and leave audio snippets directly a-la-spinvox or utterz rather than attach an mp3 voiceclip to an email for upload, being able to send a text directly to Ovi.

Mobile access is straightforward enough through the mobile browser as you'd imagine via the URL with access to most of the functions within the main website. No dedicated client as yet.

... Ovi looks to be shaping into something pretty important for Nokia ... there is the danger of course that Ovi tries to do too much and become one all-encompassing black hole doing nothing particularly well, when compared to specialist sites (eg. flickr for photos, youTube for video, and the different Social networking sites) so we'll have to wait and see...

I'll continue to play with Ovi Share and will be looking out to see if Nokia manage to get cross-integration of the other pillars of Ovi (n-gage / music / maps ) or whether these will remain as silos as they launch. Where will MOSH sit I wonder?

Also I hope Nokia will adopt the partnering model with specific 3rd parties(such as Moo with Flickr). Right now though, from a photo standpoint, I won't be giving up the Flickr pro account just yet...