Monday, June 28, 2010

Nokia retire Symbian and prefer MeeGo

According to CNet, Nokia will dump Symbian and use MeeGo to compete with Apple iPhone and other smartphones.

Symbian is a smartphone OS, the symbian is back up by few major mobile player include Sony Ericsson and Nokia. Nokia acquired Symbian in year 2008 and release the Symbian OS as an open source platform.

As a user and a developer, I am worried on Nokia strategy. Is just 2 years time, Nokia has change from a strong supporter of Symbian, to abandon Symbian.

MeeGo is a Linux-base OS. It is a join effort of Nokia Maemo and Intel Moblin project. Nokia has explored on Linux since at least 5 years ago (the Nokia Internet Tablet 770). I am in doubt with Nokia Linux strategy too, how long it will last and how well it will be supported.

OpenHand (acquired by Intel), Maemo, Moblin, MeeGo are all Linux-base platform, the application may not be compatible on all these platform. Software developer may know how to port the application from one platform to the other, but as a user how easy I upgrade my mobile device to the later software platform?

May be the Nokia smartphone or internet table platform will became a hacker's only platform.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

iOS 4 upgrade and iBooks application

iBooks application is available on App Store for iPhone (and iPod Touch).

winnie the pooh
iBooks - Winnie the Pooh, on iPhone iOS4

To install the free iBooks application, update iPhone/iPod to iOS 4. iOS 4 is available for free download as well.

To update iOS 4, need iTunes 9.2. Here is my problem, on my old PowerPC G3, I was not able to update iTunes to 9.2 through system software update.

Luckily I was able to download it from Apple support manually, and install on the iBook G3, even it stated that some of the functions need G4 CPU.

The iOS 4 update process is easy (as usual), just click the update button, iTunes will do it all for you.

After update to iOS 4, having problem restoring the data from iTunes for the first time. I just turn off (totally, by holding the on/off button for few seconds) the device, switch on again (with the cable connecting to the PC/Mac), everything just work fine.

What new in iOS 4?

iPhone Multi-tasking (some people comment that is not true multitasking.
Camera improvement.
Change background picture.
Location privacy improvement.
iBooks application.

and 100 more improvements as mentioned by Apple website.

Is it worth updating to iOS 4? Many of the major features eg. multi-tasking don't work on iPod Touch 2G. I don't really need some of the new features. I enjoy the improvement on the location feature, the iBooks application. I get back the WiFi notification icon which was missing after I updated to version 3.1.3.

Just update to iOS 4.

Monday, June 21, 2010

SingTel hiCard at Malaysia

Singapore and Malaysia discuss to cut mobile roaming charges. Why? The roaming charges are expensive.

Is cheaper to get a local SIM card if you travel to Singapore or Malaysia. I got a hi!Card from SingTel, which is a Singapore SingTel prepaid card.

SingTel hi!Card 10.

When I am back to Malaysia, the SingTel hi!Card is on roaming.

How to use SingTel hi!Card in Malaysia?

Direct call fail, it says all out going call is bar. To call, I have to use this, *131*# eg. *131*60123456789. 60 is Malaysia country code (0)12 is the mobile operator or the area code.

To check balance and expiry date, *133#

To top-up, you don't have to go back to Singapore. You can go to Maxis headquarters, asking for help, because SingTel and Maxis are members of mobile bridge alliance.

You should be able to top-up hiCard through Maxis. I never try that, not sure it is possible, because I found another easier way. Just top-up through SingTel online easy top-up, pay by credit card.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Maxis showcase "Tomorrow is here"

Maxis showcase their smart home system at Mandarin Oriental Hotel together with their AGM (Annual General Meeting) event.

Basically it is fiber optic broadband, home gateway, TV set-top box, telephone, tablet and TV, integrated together.

They name it with the title, "Tomorrow is here".

The "tomorrow" that Maxis is showing is already here, nothing new or surprising. The existing is even better.

Let's go through one by one, what Maxis try to show us on "Tomorrow is here".

Fiber optic broadband. Is fast, everyone likes fast network, but how fast it will be? It can stream youtube video. I don't think you need fiber optic to stream youtube video, copper wire can do that. If the fiber optic broadband price is same with copper wire, why not?

Maxis home gateway. Is a central hub connect and communicate with your TV, set-top box, phones, video camera and act as an Internet Wifi access point. It can share files as network storage. I know there is a lot of media player like AC Ryan media player, HiMedia player can act as a network storage as well.

Tablet. Is a touch screen (but not multi-touch) device, capable for Internet browsing, play games, video call. Future can access facebook and twitter, stream your set-top box TV program.

Is the application on the tablet available through online download and update? No, current tablet running on Linux platform (I notice it printed with a PCCW name, looks like this), future product will run on Android. Then you can download from Android Market.

PS. PCCW, Pacific Century CyberWorks, is Hong Kong telecom provider.

Video call. This should be one the interesting function that attract the public, because you can see each other face to face. Video call is not new, Skype already doing it for years, with good voice quality. Apple Steve Jobs show FaceTime on iPhone 4, with duo camera and zero setup.

Set-top box. Allow TV program recording, even with pre-set recording schedule. It should be Astro satellite service only.

Call notification on TV. When someone call your phone, it will show a notification message on the TV, but this is not ready for showcase yet.

Games. You can play games on the TV. This is not new as well, your Wii, X-Box, PS3 or other game devices may be more interesting.

Online shopping. Maxis already partner with PayPal, online payment should not be a problem. Will be available in the future. If you already have an Internet and a browser, you can do online shopping now.

May be I didn't cover all the features of Maxis smart home system, this is what they show me on "Tomorrow is here".

Maxis (and related company) is ready to provide mobile network, TV program, but for a better smart home system, we need more than that. It still lacking of software and services.

Maxis smart home system doesn't integrated well with third party devices like your lovely Apple iPad. Maxis people told me that they support better if system is all provided by Maxis. You know it is not true.

Why I need two tablet? One Maxis table which can only connect to facebook and twitter in the future, another iPad which can not connect to Maxis set-top box. Just write an application on iPad which able to connect to the set-top box, gave users two choices. No one will thrown away their multi-touch Apple iPad for a Maxis tablet.

Maxis can not provide everything, Maxis need to partner with the others, integrate with other software and services. If Maxis insist of providing product and services with their own brand only, then Maxis should provide a Maxis Faces to replace facebook services.

Good try, Maxis. There is no good and complete solution for smart home system yet.

There is nothing new that surprise me. Broadband, home gateway, TV set-top box, telephone, tablet, video call, IP TV, all are existing products. There is no new services.

Maxis' "Tomorrow is here" looks so yesterday.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

iPhone 4 unveiled at WWDC 10

Apple Steve Jobs unveiled 4th generation iPhone, the iPhone 4 at Apple WWDC 10 (World Wide Developers Conference 2010) at San Francisco. Is just name as iPhone 4, not iPhone HD as some rumors spread. iPhone 4 support HD video record, not the full HD 1080p but 720p.

iPhone 4
Apple iPhone 4
Originally uploaded by BasBoerman

The new iPhone 4 thickness is just 9.3mm, very slim. Apple change the appearance, no more curve metal cover at the back, but 2 piece of glass at the back and front, rectangle in shape, which provide more space in this slim body. The metal side also act as a antenna. It comes with black and white color.

iPhone 4 support quad band, which include HSPDA up to 7.2Mbps download speed. The iPhone 4 powered by Apple own A4 chip, normally Apple never reveal what type of chip was use in their portable device including iPod and iPhone. This A4 chip claimed to be very power efficient, provide 300 hours of standby time, or 7 hours 3G talk time. These are just official figures, just for a reference. I rather wait till other users review on the battery life.

iPhone 4 use microSIM, as the iPad does. I don't prefer micro-SIM, till it was matured and well support by the mobile network operator. Steve Jobs says the use of micro-SIM will squeeze more space for other parts, but I don't find any other mobile phone that support micro-SIM yet.

Apple introduce Retina Display on iPhone 4, it double the resolution on iPhone, up to 960x640 pixel on a 3.5 inch display. Picture and text will looks better on Retina Display (but much darker), the best part is it still backward compatible with those old application. According to Jobs, with little modification on the application, the effect will be stunning on the Retina Display.

Side track: Steve Jobs encounter network problem with iPhone 4 demo, accessing to NY Times website, later found out it was interfered by too many WiFi devices (should be those portable WiFi station) on the event.

Apple iPhone's display is one of the best in smartphone market, with the new Retina Display, new slim design and other new features like multi-threaded iPhone OS 4 (now call iOS 4), 720p video recording, iMovie video editing software, FaceTime video calls, gyroscope motion sensing for gaming and etc., iPhone 4 left other smartphone competitors far behind.

iPhone 4 only available on 24th June 2010, pre-order start 15th. What about the pricing? USD $199 for 16G iPhone 4, I believe the price came with a contract, but is a very attractive price. iPhone 3GS 8G version will further down to USD $99. I expect Apple sales boost for the next six months time.