Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Use Mobizines over WLAN For FREE !

Many of you may know that we ran a recent beta test for the N95. Over 80 of you volunteered to be part of this beta and we're very grateful to each and every one of you.

We've listened to you feedback and the most common enhancements that was requested, was the ability to use WLAN where is was available.

We been prototyping how this could work and now have a test version that automatically detects if the handset is hooked up to a WLAN router. If you are hooked up, this APN is automatically selected. Needless to say, it is super quick and overall a really great experience.

We're considering beta testing this variant, if you think we should beta this variant, please let me know at devices@mobizines.com


Yet another great phone to get Mobizines working on

A piece of historical greatness from one of my favourite blogs: Paleo-Future. It's a 1910 description of what a wireless phone would be like.

The text is great and I'll try not to spoil it by giving it all away, but it's worth noting that the inventive spirits of the Washington Post had already figured out what to do with unsightly aerials: it's the umbrella - what you look like when it doesn't rain I dunno, although the article does helpfully suggest that indoors you can attach your wireless telephone to your bedstead.

Presumably there's a USB-Remington interface for printing out text messages, although the built-in MP3 player would require the transportation of unwieldy memory sticks in the form of rolls of wax.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Future here we come

Sony's not dead yet!
Sure they might have the odd problem but Sony's R&D is still rocking. We haven't seen anything with quite as much of a "I want one of those now and I don't care how much it costs me in time, money or personal self-esteem" factor as the 16.7m colour OLED displays Sony demo'd yesterday...

That's more colours than my MacBook Pro, thank you Apple.

Still, it's kind of funny it taken a world of designers a year to notice that they only have 6 bit colour.

Anyway, you want to see what this awesome new thing looks like?

Well it turns out there's this really cool new thing called YouTube, which is like television, only better because the pictures are smaller and there's less chance of seeing Kate Thornton or an Ocean Finance ad unless you really want to. And someone (EDIT: The awesome nihonblog PinkTentacle) has posted a clip from Japanese TV up there.
It's right here.
Right now.

There are higher resolution OLEDs, but Sony's is the first that looks like it's consumer quality. Not sure about the support wiring round the edges, but when that's smaller this will change the way we approach gadgets altogether.

At the moment mobile phone screens are limited by some fairly straightforward human factors like the width of the hand and the desire not to look completely nebbish while making a call.

Ever seen someone making a call on an old-school Blackberry? My point exactly...

Add in a display that rolls up and you can have both a phone that fits neatly in an inside pocket and massive screen real estate when you need it.

So hurry up with the future, Sony-researcher-san. I'm already a couple of decades overdue on my hovercar and personal jet pack and I need my fix!

Story from Digital World Tokyo, video from PinkTentacle, image pinched from icanhascheeseburger.com.

And Lolcats rule.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

The Devil Wears...

Prada, apparently.

Well - it makes you think...

Done thinking? Cool...

Now - as you know the other day we finally got our hands on a brand new LG Prada phone...
We're all busying away on our next big release and we haven't really got time to develop a whole brand new variant of the Mobizines client to work on this handset...

So imagine our surprise to find that our touchscreen client, very nearly, works on the Prada!
Admittedly it does need a small bit of tweaking here and there...
But our resident touchscreen guru Andre, (Big up the Dre!), is on the case.

The official line is: We do NOT support this device*.
*But we're working on it!

In the meantime however - have a look at this video that we hastily knocked up...

Yes it's the wrong way round and yes it's a bit blurry but it's the best we could do under such short notice!

I guess eventually we'll probably do some kind of beta testing... if you want to be involved - drop us an email (with LG PRADA in the subject header) at bloggers@mobizines.com - we'll make sure your name gets passed onto the relevant folk...

Thursday, 17 May 2007

We've got a new toy

And it isn't an N95...

...can you guess what it could be?


I know we promised a techie-orientated post (and there is one coming soon) but our dev team have been having a good play with the contents of that box today...

Maybe we'll knock up another video for you...
More on this... Soon.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Feedback Forum

We've had some mail!


Well - ok - not actual mail. But one of our readers has commented on this lovely blog of ours and we thought we'd re-post it and give it a (well deserved) response.

Well - here's the comment we received:

"Hey. I dont usually comment on websites.
But this ones thrown me...
I found out about this blog way back at the first day.
I was super hoping to see more about wap design, the process you might go through, Some thoughtful insight on the mobile world, etc etc...
But all ive seen is a plug for your mobizines site - Which obviously its about mobizines so why not.
But I was super hoping I would see more informative posts.
Hopefully you take this comment to heart because you people seem to know what your talkin' about.
If you do take this to heart... mabye you can explain how its feasible for you to offer up mobizines free? I'm wondering how you would benefit mainly in this question.

Heres hoping you run with my comment. (and not to the trash bin)

Signed: Anonymous"

First off - Thank you for your feedback Mr Anonymous (whoever you are!).
When we got the email here at Mobizines with your comments in we immediately forwarded it to our techie/development team and challenged them to come up with some more 'informative' (shall we say) posts about Mobizines etc and how they all work.

Basically - Your comments have been taken on board and we are doing something about it!
Originally we didn't want the blog to become overly-techie and/or just a 'plug for the Mobizines site' - but if more process/design stuff is what you want - then we shall try and fulfil that need, (as well as sticking in the odd random post as per usual).


In answer to one of your questions mind -
(about Mobizines being free) -
Have a look at the last paragraph of our very first post.
Hopefully that might go some way in explaining how we do it - let us know if not!


Here's hoping this 'Feedback Forum' section becomes a regular thing...
If you have something to contribute to the Mobizines team or if you have any feedback about the service and/or the blog - You can reach us by either:

a) Leaving a comment on this here blog of ours or
b) Mailing us at bloggers@mobizines.com

We're generally quite a nice bunch of folk and most things get addressed pretty sharpish..
Hope to hear from you soon!

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Top Tip: Ever wanted Mobizines at the touch of a button?

You can configure your right (or left) soft key on your N95 (or any other Symbian handset!) to access Mobizines by using:

Tools > Settings > General > Personalisation > Standby > Shortcuts > Right Selection Key

Or alternatively, for the you can add the Mobizines icon to your desktop - aka The Active Standy - by using:

Tools > Settings > General > Personalisation > Standby > Shortcuts > Active Standby Apps

We’re offering prizes for other Top Tips and will be publishing them here in our blog.


Friday, 11 May 2007

Mobizines - Uncovered!

Hot on the heels of going live on the Nokia Content Discoverer both on the N73 and the N95...

We have also just gone live on the T-Mobile 'T-Zones' Portal!


If you've got a mobile phone on T-Mobile and you don't have Mobizines...
(although I'm not sure why you're here if you DON'T have Mobizines - you should be here instead)

Get yourself to your T-Zones portal and look for a thing called 'What's New' - it's there under 'Top Services'.
Found it?


From there look for 'Uncovered'
No.... Go PAST the Page 3 Girl... PAST IT I TELL YOU!

Once you made it (just) into 'Uncovered', scroll down to 'Info & Entertainment' and...

And Voila!
Mobizines is there!
Wanna install? Oh go on then...

Yay! Mobizines goodness for all!

Thanks to all our friends at T-Mobile and T-Zones for helping us get this live.

Hope you enjoy the service...

Oh - and as a point of interest -
Two of the founding members of Refresh Mobile (the company behind Mobizines) are originally from T-Mobile themselves.
Aww... The whole thing's come full circle.
As a great man once said: "I love it when a plan comes together."

Oh and thanks to Martin who quite rightly pointed all of the above out to Jim the other day.
Nice one Martin.

Edit: Richie has just pointed out that anyone with Web n Walk* will not see T-Zones on their phone and will have to manually type in www.t-zones.co.uk to gain access....

*Ahh... Yes. Web n Walk. Probably the best data bundle in the world...

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Japan dumps the PC, gets texting

Interesting story in the Sydney Morning Herald (brought to our attention by the inestimable Digital World Tokyo) about Japan's shift from the PC to the mobile phone. The number of Japanese 20 year olds with internet connected PCs has dropped from 23.6% to 11.9%. From a European/British perspective the notion of only 1 in 10 of such a high spending market having PCs is very alien.

Some Japanese universities report a sizeable chunk of their students graduate without using a computer.

The reasons are many: the computer form factor - qwerty keyboard and all - just doesn't translate well to a country whose language can be written in four different character sets, sometimes all in the same sentence.

By contrast the mobile web is booming: sites like Mixi (Japan's MySpace) and Yahoo all place mobile as at least as important as Web. The keitei takes the place as a communications device that the PC has in the UK.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Our top 3 support requests: 1

Can't see all the Mobizines

The most popular issue is a bit knottier: the Mobizines you get depend on the way you get the Mobizines Reader, who your network operator is and what your phone is. Quite understandably people come to the Web site and look at the 70 or so titles in the UK, and wonder why their phone is only listing a subset. It's a bit complicated but I'll try to explain:

Limited memory phones

The first thing to point out is that we have to limit the number of titles listed on the phone for some phones. If you have a Siemens C75 or a Nokia 6100 you'll only see 12 titles because if we add more your device will run out of memory and Mobizines won't work.

Text to 63333, 692355 or 82200

If you got your Mobizines Reader by texting to the UK, US, South African or German shortcode numbers you'll get a selection of titles that are related to the title you texted in to subscribe to initially. You should see about 25 titles on the phone to add. So if you come in for Fast Car, say, you'll get Evo in the list because we've made the assumption that you like cars.

Texting to +44 7624806310

If you got your selection by texting into the International number you'll get our world selection of titles. These are titles that we have permission to distribute globally - not all of our content partners want us to distribute their titles all around the world, usually because they only own the content for the country they're in.

Downloading from GetJar etc

The same is true if you download your Mobizines Reader from GetJar or one of the less official phone software sites (we distribute the installers officially on GetJar, AllAboutSymbian and Handango: if you see it somewhere else you might want to check it's the latest as people have been known to download our software are distribute it themselves. We don't mind, but it does mean that there are multiple versions about.) Because GetJar is global we load the GetJar clients with content that is OK for every country. If you want a UK version to download you can get the Jar from our website.

Installing from the NCD

The Nokia Content Discover has a special group with some exclusive Nokia content in it. Again, it doesn't have the full gamut of content.

BBC Headlines

Yep, that's us. If you have the BBC Headlines service (not the BBC News Select application!) you have Mobizines loaded with only BBC content. You can get the BBC news and all the other Mobizines titles by texting "bbcopen" to 63333 in the UK.


We also operate the Mobizines service on the Three network in the UK. This costs three pounds a month (with a penny change) and Three choose the titles. At the moment, for example, the RSS Mobizine is not available on Three.

UK Mobizines outside the UK and (vice versa)

If you're in the USA, Germany and South Africa there are local services set up for you. We understand if you want to access UK content as well (or vice versa if you're in the UK and you want to read titles from one of the other countries we're in). Unfortunately licensing means we need to keep things separate.

But I want {insert name} Mobizine!

We feel your need. We try to work with our distribution channels and our content partners to make as much content available everywhere: it's what we're about. Sometimes for reasons legal, technical and metaphysical this just isn't possible. If you're in the UK and you want another Mobizine you can simply text 63333 again and we'll switch your subscription.

You can also sign up for My Mobizines and subscribe to stuff outside the list on the phone that way: this will be particularly useful for people with the limited memory client (check out the GetJar mobizines-tiny.jar details for a list of affected handsets.)

We're also pushing hard for new content for the global group: keep checking the Add New Mobizines screen in Mobizines Reader and you should see some exciting new stuff coming soon.

(The picture? That's actual rocket science that is)

Our top 3 support requests: 2

N95 is coming!

We're getting flooded by requests for the N95 beta software. We've been in beta a bit longer than we'd like with this one, but the software is now ready and we're just waiting for Symbian signing. We expect this will be added to the main Mobizines install system by the end of next week.

By the way we'd really like one of these t-shirts

<------------ from ThinkGeek. Ta.

Our top 3 support requests: 3

Number 3: PIN problems

PIN number requests for My Mobizines are still a major issue. We (currently) need to verify that you're making a request from your own handset (I know you know it's your handset, but frankly I don't think we've been properly introduced).

We've noticed that we're getting loads more requests for PINs for new Nokias because of our NCD distribution deal. Those Nokias get everywhere.

This process isn't quite as reliable as we'd like: international bulk SMS turns out to be a bit like sticking a message in a bottle and letting it float out to sea. So while people in the UK get PINs no problem, we have difficulty getting PINs through to countries as diverse as India, the USA and China. Which are, obviously, quite big.

For now if the PIN doesn't arrive your only option is to email help@mobizines.com but we're dropping the PIN requirement in the next release of the software (which wshould hit the street ina couple of months). This should make registering from places we don't have decent SMS coverage easy.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

More on Canadian data costs

Google Spreadsheet of the price of data in Canada (and some other places).

Note that Rogers Telecom helpfully multiplies your costs by 6 if you wander into that big country south of the 49th parallel, taking you from 0.5 cents a kilobyte (yes, kilobyte: I've seen phones that send more than two kilobytes in request headers alone) to 3 cents.

Putting it in a Google Spreadsheet is a really cool and powerful way of demonstrating how twisted data prices are, so top marks to Thomas Purves for putting it up as a part of his post reported on here.

We'd like to expand on that so - I'm trying to put together a "best deal" spreadsheet in Google.
But modelling it is evil.

Cost is the thing we get asked about most of all, and its a really thorny issue to crack, largely because the mobile operators go out of their way to make it as hard to compare as possible.

In the UK alone, for example, you have operators that operate tariffs with a daily cap and an excess, (eg, Vodafone will charge you a pound each day you go online, so long as you use less than 15Mb of data, with a £2 surcharge for each megabyte over the 15Mb), operators who charge per service (eg, Three) and operators who charge a flat rate for all you can eat so long as you don't take the mickey, (T-Mobile, ray!).

Unfortunately, that's usually only one tariff in a portfolio of tariffs so, for example, T-Mobile's pay as you go offering looks a lot like Vodafone's, with a daily surchage, and Three also offer flat-rate pricing via X-Series.

Why's it so difficult to compare? The argument goes that if users were able to compare easily between mobile tariffs (and data's only one part of that) they...gosh!... would move to operators that offered better prices, thus increasing churn and starting a price war. I used to work for a small web agency that did some consulting work for a large airline. One of the ideas we came up with as a sales promotion was the concept of the Isoquid. The idea was to draw lines on a map of the world showing how far £200 would take you by air, so that if you did happen to have exactly that sum of money in your pocket you'd be able to book a ticket from the interface we designed. The idea was turned down because it showed all too graphically how European flights were artficially expensive compared with flights to the US. The £200 that got you to New York would drop you somewhere short of Geneva. (Bear in mind this is before the budget airlines really kicked off.)

On top of that confusion the amount of data that you use reading Mobizines (which are free from us to you, except for Three users, and the three quid a month is a bloody good deal) depends on the number of titles you have and the type of title.

Take the example of someone who only subscribes to Sudoku, (it's okay, we still love you, but you're missing out on a world of fun). The Java client version of Sudoku, which is one of the most popular downloads we have at GetJar, is 168 bytes to update. That's right, you can fit it in one line of BBC Basic. Refresh to get a new puzzle daily and Vodafone's new pricing means you'll end up paying £30.

On the other hand someone with subscriptions to Evo and Monkey (say) which are 225 times more data will only pay four quid because they only update on a Wednesday.

So while we hear your requests for a simple way to calculate how much subscribing to a Mobizine is going to cost, it's extremely hard to build up the comparisons without ending up with something that looks like a City trader's desktop. We're working on clarifying the proposition (or make things simple, in English) so watch this space.

So why does a gigabyte of data cost £20 in New Zealand and £2908 in Canada?

The polite answer is that New Zealand has a more competitive market than other territories. The impolite answer is that the operators are petrified of ending up competing on raw price as simple ISPs so they're very very gently deflating costs.

Eventually they will be bit pipes and you'll be able to choose whether you want to use the add-on voice service from your mobile operator or just stick with your Skype subscription but it's gonna be a long time coming. (And perhaps the wifi providers will eat their lunch while the telcos are still trying to decide which wine goes with Sea Bream.) In the meantime expect a very distorted market.

Oh and all of the above and the fact that the regulatory authorities have enough on their hands dealing with things like cutting voice roaming costs to worry about data yet...

What is Mobizines Daily?

Have you got Mobizines on your phone?

If the answer is 'Yes' then you might already know what Mobizines Daily is, (but read on anyway!).

If the answer is 'No' then (first off - WHAT ARE YOU DOING! GET IT NOW!) maybe you might like to know...

*puts marketing hat on*

Mobizines Daily is your guide to what's hot in your Mobizines service today!

With me?


Basically - every day we scour the entire Mobizines catalogue for five of the best stories available from our top titles and offer a taster to you via the wonderment that is Mobizines Daily!

Step by step:

1) Open Mobizines Daily -
Right you are...

2) Pick a story -
Hmm... I wonder what Britney's been up to lately...

4) Read the snippet.
Hang on! I want more Britney! How do I get the full article? Oh I see!

5) Go back to your Mobizine selection screen -
I can do that...

Huzzah! The full story on Britney and Amy! PLUS loads of other extra stories from Popworld!

Got that?
Mobizines Daily is published every day at 7am, (UK Time).

Do you read Mobizines Daily?
What do you think?

Leave comments below or email us at bloggers@refreshmobile.com