Blackberry 10: seven things you should know

Count’em…

BB10

1. There are two phones.
One new handset comes with a keyboard (the Q10) and one does not (the Z10). The latter looks like a fairly traditional touchscreen slab and the former will not doubt speak to those day to day business men who actually miss the days of having a full keyboard.

2. It’s for one handers
Apparently RIM, sorry BLACKBERRY (we’ll come back to that) have got super-focused on their one-hand experience to help those chaps and chapesses who like to do things… one handed. TRUTH.

3. European MD, Stephen Bates, will probably never appear on the BBC ever again.
In an amazing interview on Radio 5 this morning Mr Bates was asked  ‘What did you learn from the iPhone?’ (in various forms) six times and not once did he address the question full on. Ouch.

Too much media training = painful interviews from hell.

4. It runs Android apps.
It really does. And if there’s any app that’s not in the store, you can convert it in 40 seconds.

BB10 Android converter

Grab the APK file, upload it to the converter and… bish bash bosh… one BB10 app ready and raring to go.

5. According to sources: it’s actually quite good.
David Mannl, super mobile tech head and founder and creative director at mobile app generator, Mippin, had this to say:

I’ve been using BB10 on a final hardware device for two weeks. And I won’t go back to my Galaxy S3. And Whatley knows how much of and android fan boy I am. Just amazing! Mainly because it runs all my android apps as well. A complete no brainer.

6. No more RIM: Blackberry is it.
That’s right, Research in Motion is no more. Pursuing the ideal of ‘one brand, one promise’, from this day forth, the Canadian handset manufacturer will simply be known as ‘Blackberry’. Clean and simple, not unlike their new UI.

7. You can play with one on Feb 28th.
The new Blackberry 10 devices are available tomorrow! However, if you don’t want to splash out yourself – don’t worry! You can come along to #NotatMWC next month, hang out with some rather awesome mobile geeks, AND get your grubby mitts on one there.

We’ve been promised BB10 devices will be on hand, so if you want hands on, come to #NotatMWC!

 

 

#NotatMWC 2013

We’re baaaaack!

This coming February sees the cream of the world’s mobile industry all descend on Barcelona’s (thing?) for Mobile World Congress. But the thing is, attending the world’s biggest mobile conference is not cheap so many mobile geeks don’t get the chance to go.NotatMWC

But don’t panic, we’ve got you covered –

The original #NotatMWC event is BACK!

  • Are you having trouble making it to MWC?
  • Have you decided to say ‘BALLS!’ to Barcelona?
  • Do you have a slight obsession with all things cellular?

THEN JOIN US FOR BEERS AND GENERAL MOBILE MERRIMENT AT #NOTATMWC!

February 28th is the date you need to book in your diary and we’ve booked the upstairs at All Bar One on New Oxford Street for just over 70-odd people. If we over do it and loads of you turn up, no matter! We can just flood the ENTIRE PUB with mobile folk and have a jolly good time.

See you there?

 

PS. Tell your friends —-> “Feb 28th. NotatMWC. Be there

PPS. Sponsorship options are also available.

Five things you should know about Ubuntu Phone

My first post of 2013 is about mobile? Didn’t see that one coming…

Screen shot 2013-01-02 at 23.23.46

Ubuntu, from Canonical (an operating system I have never used (not an irrelevant point)), is coming to mobile. Haven’t you heard? OK, well watch the video embedded below (from about 5mins 20secs onwards) to get a brief rundown.

In fact, if you’ve got 20mins (like I had earlier, in the bath (there’s a mental image for you)), you should watch it all – it’s pretty good.

Got that? Right.

Five things you should know –

1. I am not an Ubuntu user
I’ll say it again: I am not an Ubuntu user. Not many of my friends are either. According to Wikipedia, Ubuntu is ‘the most popular Linux distribution on the market’. That’s a little bit like saying you’re the most popular kid in New Jersey but hey, who’s counting.

My point is (based on the super-scientific research of me and my mates – clearly) Ubuntu isn’t exactly consumer friendly and/or focused (yet). This might work against them, it might work for them. But we’ll come back to that one.

2. Oh my N9
The Nokia N9 was (still is, to be fair) a gorgeous phone. I still have mine. At the time, Meego’s SWIPE UI was innovative as hell and just so damn good to use. New Ubuntu for mobile has clearly borrowed heavily from Meego in this area.

Swipe left to do this, swipe right to do that; it’s a great interface. And, while I’m happy to see it being used, it makes me sad when I think about what the N9 might’ve been [had Nokia not decided to go all in with Windows Phone].

3. Disingenuous(?) Commentary
The super smart chaps spotted chatting in the video from 14mins onwards make some really interesting and valid points. But – and you may think this yourself when you watch it – the comments are bit generic and fluffy. But that’s not their fault, it was down to the questions asked and the edits made afterwards –

 

Hmm.

4. We’ve been here before, remember?
Back in November 2007 (a mere five years ago) Google (re-)launched Android into the world. ‘It’s an operating system for geeks!’ the nay-sayers yelled. And they were right, for a time. One might argue that is still very much the case BUT ONE WOULD DEFINITELY BE WRONG.

Android is the number one mobile OS in the world today. Five years after the industry signed it off as ‘just for geeks’. Alright Ubuntu isn’t Google but still, don’t discount them yet – sometimes being the underdog really helps. Speaking of Google…

5. Hardware vs Software
According to sources, a build of Ubuntu for mobile will be ready for download and installation onto Google Nexus devices within the next three weeks. If you made it through the video above, then you probably already know that ‘if your hardware works with Android, then it’ll also work with Ubuntu’ – which is basically Ubuntu saying ‘We work on Google phones!’.

That to me is awesome.

That means we are one more step closer to separating hardware and software in mobile. That means, like in the PC world, you could buy a Google Nexus device and then ostensibly install any OS you want on it [within reason]. This level of disruption can only be good for the market.

In closing:

Consumers don’t care for (or even know about) Ubuntu, but consumers didn’t care about Android when that first launched and look where we are now. The OS itself looks innovative and exciting, the market is screaming out for disruption (Windows Phone isn’t quite there yet), and perhaps, just perhaps, Ubuntu for mobile might be an(other) interesting way forward.

Might.

—-

Comments are welcome, but there’s already an interesting discussion already happening over on G+ that may be worth your attention as well.

 

 

If BBC Question Time did Mobile

Then it’d be called 361degrees LIVE.

Back in the hey day of mobile-focused video shows, the (now defunct) Mobile Industry Review (MIR) Show was fondly referred to as ‘The Top Gear of Mobile‘, since then, The Really Mobile Project came and went(ish) and – in the emptiness of awesome video – the 361 Degrees podcast has taken its place.

Now in its 3rd season, and featuring the triumvirate of editors from All About Symbian, MIR and Wireless Worker, I can safely say that 361 Degrees is worth the ear-time of anyone who might consider themselves even just a mild mobile geek.

Moreover, last year, at the close of Nokia World 2011, the 361 chaps did their first ever LIVE event. ‘Live’ in that it was recorded in front of a LIVE studio audience* but, with questions from the crowd and an engaging host (you can pay me later, Ben), the evening was a brilliant wrap up to a rather full-on couple of days.

Fast forward eight months and the guys have decided to do it again.

That’s right, 361 Degrees LIVE is coming back next month and YOU can be a part of it!

_______________________________________________

Join the 361 Degrees team and guests for ‘Mobile Question Time’… a format we’ve only slightly borrowed from the BBC.
An invited panel plus Ewan MacLeod and Rafe Blandford will field questions from the audience in a live Q&A recorded for the podcast. Ben Smith will chair.

Panelists:
Ilicco Elia –
 Head of Mobile at LBi.
Ed Hodges
 – Head of Mobile, Business & Commercial at Royal Bank of Scotland.
Mark Squires
 – Head of Communications for Western Europe, Nokia.
Stephen Pinches
 - Head of Emerging Technologies at Financial Times Group.

Doors: 6:00pm
Panel starts: 7:00pm
Networking until: 10:00pm

This event is generously supported by LBi and Nokia.

_______________________________________________

They’re pitching it as ‘the Question Time of Mobile’ (albeit with less idiots, maybe) and, when you sign up, you’ll be able to submit questions to be asked to the panel on the night.

If you have even only a passing interest in the mobile industry, then you should definitely consider going. I really do mean it when I say that the three hosts represent the cream of mobile expertise this country has to offer and the panelists they’ve lined up know their onions as well.

I’m going. You should too.

 

 

*I say ‘studio audience’, what I mean is ‘bunch of rowdy mobile bloggers holed up in the bottom of a pub somewhere near the Excel centre’

 

The Samsung Galaxy S III

An opinion from someone who’s read the internet –

Announced last Thursday as, believe it or not, the third device in the Samsung Galaxy S range. The SGSIII was all set to inherit the crown of ‘biggest selling non-iPhone / smartphone of the year’ from last year’s winner, the SGSII.

At least, that’s what we thought.

You can’t argue with the numbers – in 2011, the SGSII was a fantastically popular phone and Samsung, with its large screen, speedy graphics and TouchWiz’d version of Android – hit the sweet spot for consumer awareness + desire for the best Android phone on the market.

Admittedly, I was never a fan. I prefer my Androids to be pure Google experiences and both HTC + Samsung (amongst others) like to skin their OS accordingly. It’s a bit rubbish and generally gets in the way of being able to actually use the phone… but still, I can see why some people like it.

I’m rambling. Let’s get cut to the chase –

Is the SGSIII a worthy successor, is it actually any good?

Before I answer that question, let’s make one thing very clear:

I have not had hands on with this device at all.

What you are about to read is pure conjecture based upon the opinions of trusted friends & peers, images & video from the launch event, and several years working in and around the mobile industry.

Understood? Good. I don’t exactly love this kind of post, but to those of you that are still here, thanks – there’s a few things I’d like to cover –

1: The Samsung SGSIII is ugly + made of cheap plastic

As per my note above, I agree with Eric’s comment purely based upon the photos, videos and posts I have seen from the launch event. But even so, he’s not alone, and the man has a point. And while it might be harsh (I’ve seen worse devices), we – the industry at large – were just expecting something more.

And actually, while we’re at it, when your software is fundamentally the same across different handsets, design is a fundamental key selling point. It’s why I rock a Lumia 800 and it’s why I’ll recommend the HTC One X over the SGSIII should someone ask me about Android phones.

2: The Samsung SGSIII features some a sweet innovation

The word ‘innovation’ is bandied about too fast and loose these days however, reading this post TechCrunch shortly after the SGSIII announcement I was actually quite impressed by one particular paragraph –

“The Galaxy S III looks deep into your eyes and only turns off when you do,” noted Jean Daniel Ayme to the audience. That is to say, the screen will note when your eyes are on it and will stay “awake” for as long as you look at it. “It knows precisely what we are doing and our intentions.”

Now this is more like it.

While ‘creepy’ is a word I’ve heard a couple of times since discussing this particular addition to the handset, having a phone that turns on *when I look at it* is actually kind of awesome. I like this, a lot. Proper ethnographical research, informing technological innovation. More of this please.

3. TouchWiz Android is horrible

As Android skins go, HTC Sense is pretty darn ugly but, TouchWiz takes it to a whole new level. If you want a ‘pure’ Google experience with Android, buy a Nexus. Other device manufacturers can’t be trusted.

4. The SGSIII is a HUGE disappointment

As much as I dislike their current advertising, the HTC One X is probably my favourite Android device on the market today and the SGSIII has done nothing to change that. But don’t just take my word on it, the out pour of disappointment around this particular phone launch is staggering

For example – ‘How Samsung Broke My Heart‘, ‘The Galaxy SIII is a “Me Too” Device and a Disappointment‘ and ‘Dear Internet: I am incredibly sorry for over-hyping the disappointment that is the Galaxy S III‘ are just three well-written and well-informed pieces that I’ve read over the past couple of days, of which I am sure there are many more.

Sad times.

And, even though I happily acknowledge that I haven’t even played with the SGSIII yet, I can safely say: if you’re in the market for an Android phone, look at the Galaxy Nexus or check out the HTC One X.

Cheers.

 

Freefall Photography: The HTC One

First up, watch this –

The video description:

The Experiment: We chucked a photography student out of a plane to see if he could take the perfect fashion photo. We gave him a model, lighting guys, a makeup artist and smoke machines. The only thing we didn’t give him was a camera. We gave him a phone.

This is the commercial that’s currently running in the UK globally to mark the worldwide release of the HTC One. While it’s not the most original idea in the world, it does have great piece of backing music (Tick of the Clock, Chromatics – most recently heard on the DRIVE official soundtrack), some great imagery and… well, that’s about it.

It sounds harsh but, I’m not entirely sure what the advert is for.

Yes, it’s for the HTC One, I get that much, but why are they jumping out of the plane? Why is the HTC One being used in this instance? From what I’ve read, it’s to help show off  ‘the One’s low-light capabilities’ – if that’s the case, why can’t I see the image and/or video quality that ‘Nick’ shot with the phone in the advert?

The very last second of the ad ends with ‘Watch Nick’s story online’, let’s get online and find that content then shall we?

A Google image search for ‘HTC One free fall fashion shoot‘ only turns up images shot by other cameras that were present on the day; DSLRs etc… keep clicking and eventually, on page 3 of the search, this image shows up via All Things D

I’m not sure, but I’m thinking that this might be the actual image that our man Nick shot with his HTC One. Not bad, right? Right. But I want the full image; the original, uncrunched image, with EXIF data.

But I can’t find it.

Even the official photo album from the shoot, the one from HTC UK’s very own Facebook page, doesn’t have the full file [instead uploading a frustratingly bad and super-compressed FB-friendly version]. Additionally – and still, according to the ad – Nick was recording video and trying to get the perfect photo at the same time. Guess what? No sign of that footage either.

I’m labouring the point, I know. But if you’re going to make a big deal about a fashion student being given the opportunity to take part in a one-of-a-kind free-fall fashion shoot, then surely you’d make a big deal around the actual content that said fashion student produced. No?

Just me then.

Read the press release, make your own mind up.

 

Introducing: LooTube

A few days ago, I wrote this post suggesting a feature for mobile-based video services, the overall idea being that the app might display different length content based upon the user’s location.

I cheekily surmised that perhaps content should be served depending the answer to the following question: 

“Hi, where are you? In bed, on the train or on the toilet?”

Terence Eden, one third of the brains behind awesome mobile web Twitter service, Dabr, commented on the post with, amongst other things –

“Hmmm… You’ve given me an idea for a weekend hack…”

Well, it’s the weekend, and Terence has finished hacking – LooTu.be has arrived!

While not the most tasteful of mobile web apps available today, LooTube is awesome as it answers the challenge I posed last week: why can’t mobile video be served in order of length (based upon your location)?

Amazing, nicely done Terence.

Give it a go yourself, next time you’re headed to the can – hit up http://lootu.be on your mobile and see what you fancy watching.

UPDATE:
Terence has posted too – ‘Context Specific Content Surfacing‘