Have a GSM phone and GrandCentral? Here’s how to simplify your voicemail.

GrandCentral: Logo

When I initially discussed GrandCentral, I was given a special conditional call forwading code which enabled my phone to send voicemail messages directly into GrandCentral as opposed to my carrier. This is great for people managing a lot of numbers and as it was pre-iPhone, at the time offered a way to get something like Apple’s soon to launch Visual Voicemail.

I am a few devices later now, and have been craving the Grandcentral voicemail features again and decided to set it up for myself this time (thanks to Phoneboy for the search suggestion).

With a simple code, you can initiate conditional call forwarding on your GSM phone and choose where to send calls….

Dial: *61*yournumber# and hit send. I’ve entered my GrandCentral number as my number, but really you can do this for any number you want. Dialing ##61# and send should return things the way they were if you prefer.

From here it’s a matter of choosing how you’d like to use GrandCentral… The simplest way is to just call your own number when you want to retrieve a message – which is suggested in the alert txt. If you’d like access to a more visual style you need to fire up your browser and check out the m.grandcentral.com site.

As you can see from the N95 screenshots below, GrandCentral offers a pretty robust way to manage voicemail. You can see who’s left new messages, review a historical listing, listen and easily call people back — using your GrandCentral number as the outbound CallerID.

As an added bonus to me, I no longer get the encoded double txt alerts from ATT’s Visual Voicemail system.

GrandCentral - Txt Alertm.grandcentral.com
GrandCentral - Confirming your active numberGrandCentral - Voicemail Inbox
GrandCentral - Listening to VoicemailGrandCentral - Call Back
GrandCentral Calling ...

Is your phone Born Free?

Nokia Nseries - Open to Anything

Walt Mossberg has a great piece (Free My Phone!) up on All Things D, which is a must read for anyone even remotely interested in the mobile industry.

While he’s not saying anything that we (you gentle reader) have not heard or discussed, to hear it from someone with as much consumer clout as Walt Mossberg is something worth noting.

A shortsighted and often just plain stupid federal government has allowed itself to be bullied and fooled by a handful of big wireless phone operators for decades now. And the result has been a mobile phone system that is the direct opposite of the PC model. It severely limits consumer choice, stifles innovation, crushes entrepreneurship, and has made the U.S. the laughingstock of the mobile-technology world, just as the cellphone is morphing into a powerful hand-held computer.

Whether you are a consumer, a hardware maker, a software developer or a provider of cool new services, it’s hard to make a move in the American cellphone world without the permission of the companies that own the pipes. While power in other technology sectors flows to consumers and nimble entrepreneurs, in the cellphone arena it remains squarely in the hands of the giant carriers. [All Things D]

Interestingly there’s no mention of Nokia in the piece, just that Apple was able to sell the iPhone without the carrier getting inside. This is not entirely correct, there are no ATT apps or services, but there are limitations in what the iPhone can really do…. VOIP anyone? We can argue there are no applications later.

When I was in San Francisco last week the topic of unlocked phones came up and Bill Plummer suggested the phrase Born Free instead of unlocked. The term unlocked implies that the device was actually locked at one point and is now no longer that way. The Nokia N-Series devices are largely sold direct in the US – without a carrier contract and without carrier involvement on any level.

It took me a moment to appreciate that this is not just semantics, but truly an important difference. There are not too many manufacturers offering open devices… Palm has previously sold a GSM Treo without a carrier and I believe Motorola is starting to offer a device or two.

Clearly buying an open device is not something the average consumer seeks today. Devices are not subsidized so they cost more on the surface and you typically cannot use carrier services like music and video. Since I don’t use any of those services anyway. I literally just want open access to the network.

Without a carrier getting in your way, it’s easy to add your own content, browse and customize the device the way you want AND most importantly use things that were intended to be used in full. You simply pick a GSM carrier add your SIM and are all set. Should you choose to switch carriers, you are free to do so (outside of any contract term of course) and use the same device with another carrier.

The carrier BS has progressed to a point that goes well beyond reason and basic business and can only be seen as driven by greed. It hurts the consumer and I think will start to hurt the carriers as people become more savvy to the experience they could be having. There’s absolutely no reason for matters to be as locked as they are and I will advise those who ask to buy open to keep the as much of the power in the hands of the consumer.

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N-Gage looks towards user-generated content

This sounds very cool…

In an exclusive interview with Develop, Nokia’s games boss Mark Ollila has revealed that the company is hard at work on multiple cross-platform games for its revamped N-Gage platform.

Earlier this year it emerged the company was developing a new game in association with studio RedLynx which could be played on both PC and mobile and used Nokia’s SNAP technology as its connectivity backbone. That title, Project White Rock, reportedly boasts hundreds of lines of recorded dialogue suggesting it is a more traditional, possibly MMO-like, game experience for multiple players.

But Nokia also has another such title in development, Ollila explained – one which features a user-generated content element.

‘For one of the titles we are working on we are looking at the possibility of letting players create a game and sharing that experience with others,’ he explained adding that the decision to create games that work across both mobile and PC is part of Nokia’s larger plan to build community around its rebirthed N-Gage service.


I can’t imagine there will be Mac love here, but regardless Nokia is feeling very progressive to me these days and that’s a very good thing.

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The Mobile Web: WebKit, Safari and the S60 browser

Web Browser for S60

I am sitting on a plane en route to the Web 2.0 Summit writing this on my N800, enjoying my time to write some things wihout distraction… aside from the guy in 11B reading this over my shoulder!

About two weeks ago, Tommi at the S60 Applications blog asked for feedback on the Nokia Beta Labs program. My initial thought is that it’s really a solid idea which enables the feedback loop via the blogosphere and certainly on the applications blog comments. I posted something similarly on Tommi’s site but now that some time has passed it seems that perhaps the focus could be on altering the existing status more rather than pushing out the new. Don’t get me wrong – I’m an applications junkie just like most of you, but I would like to see some renovation before building more.

When I attended the Evening with S60 event in NYC, I was told (incorrectly now) that the S60v3 FP1 browser would be released within 30 days to other S60v3 devices which was great news. I saw a massive spike in traffic after my update on this news which confirmed I was far from alone in looking for this type of update. Nokia, with the exception of Maps, seems to require a new unit to get what become device standard features (of course right after you) purchase your phone.

Of course, a long time has now passed and we’ve yet to see a release. Instead, we heard about the widgets which will be coming in FP2 probably in Q1 2008. Not to take away from widgets (I think I’ve seen the light a bit for very task specific information), the browser now seems a bit limited in one very key area thanks to some healthy competition from both the iPhone as well as Nokia’s own N800 . The iPhone has enabled a VERY rich use of tabs which make maintaining simultaneous activities online possible. The S60 browser can also do multiple tabs and actually does them quite well. There is NO WAY TO MANUALLY OPEN A NEW WINDOW.

The hack I’ve found for this is silly, and takes longer than I would like to get going, but has now become a part of my browsing process on the N95-3.

  • You first have to set the window preference to allow pop-ups. This will allow ads to pop up or under … no way around that I know.
  • Once this is on, you visit a site that forces links to spawn in new windows. My choice for this is the m.twitter.com site as it’s mobile optimized and loads very quickly. I can get a few windows going right away and move about my business. I usually maintain 3-4 tabs now…
  • Once you have a second, third or even fourth window open, you can press 5 to see your tabs and then using the nav key move either left or right to select which site you want. Pressing the center key selects and opens a more full view. From the tabbed view, you can use the left soft key to see th options for tabs which let you close either the current or all other tabs you have open.

The browser is the perfect candidate for a quick beta release through the labs. Many devices do not have enough RAM to browse in this manner (yet) and it’s probably more power user than mass feature, but isn’t that who’s visting and using the beta labs anyway? We should not have to wait for a Firmware release (which we all know wipes the device fresh) or worse, a new device to get such aseemingly small adjustment. This really should be something we just have in devices like the N95-3, N95 8GB, N81, N81 8GB, E90 and as well as future devicess that have enough operating RAM to make this possible – which should cover all N and E-Series moving forward, right?

The iPhone has really turned the mobile browsing experience up on its head. Regardless of their true capabilities, all mobile devices are being compared to the iPhone. The fact that the same engine is used in S60 and the iPhone makes this even more open to scrutiny.

The N800, which does not share the webkit engine, can go toe-to-toe with the iPhone even defeating it with some complex sites, but requires a second purchase. This is great for both Nokia’s bottom line (as well as non Nokia handset users) It is admittedly far more enjoyable to browse on the larger screen, it’s not something you always want in your pocket.

There are some great mobile web applications and services which have sprung up seemingly overnight to support the million plus iPhones… How many S60 devices are there? Considerably more…

A device like the N95-3 should not be hamstrung by a missing feature like this. The game has changed a bit now and we need to look how others are doing things and what can be learned to improve what we have and what’s to come.

Love to hear your thoughts here…

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Google Mobile Updates

As we prepare for the eventual Google Mobile experience, there are a few updates that are worth noting.

First, last week Google released a terrific update to their Maps application on Friday, which now runs native on S60 devices. You can download from your phone via http://www.google.com/gmm. Speed seems much improved in loading and moving through maps over the Java version as you might expect from a native app. Google Maps also now fully supports GPS which is just awesome. It does not seem to support AGPS yet, but connects very quickly enough if you are not deep inside a building.

Compared to Nokia Maps, it’s a bit quicker for general location awareness and directions, but you can’t tap into saved locations from your device (yet) and you can’t get live turn by turn directions with spoken updates for driving – but you can see live traffic! POI are tied with Google and seem to be better than Nokia Maps… I can see myself using this a lot… I’m sure I’ll be checking in with Google Maps when I land in San Francisco tomorrow.

Some screenshots:

Screenshot0059.jpg Screenshot0050.jpg Screenshot0049.jpg Screenshot0048.jpg Google Maps on the N95 Google Maps on the N95 Google Maps on the N95 Screenshot0054.jpg

Last night I became aware of an update to GMail Mobile… which can be downloaded at http://www.gmail.com/app. While it’s not native there are some nice improvements which seem worthy of the update. You can save drafts though only one which is helpful if you are tapping something out on your phone and get interrupted or run out of time. While you still cannot send attachments, there’s a pre-load option so messages pop open much more quickly. This uses more data so non-unlimited plan people take note… There’s a status on how much each transaction uses so you can keep tabs on things if you need.

Screenshot0061.jpg Screenshot0062.jpg

Based on the release of the Native S60 Google Maps application, I’m hopeful that we’ll see a native GMail as well. Aside from attachment sending, I’d really like to see an auto-refresh option so my new mail is just there waiting to be read… Manual refresh works quick enough, but saving that step would be appreciated.

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iPhone SIM DUN Access Solved!

iPhone SIM Removed

Free your SIM for a faster data connection!

I honestly have no idea why this is working now but it is, and I’m very happy!! I know I ranted about this earlier this week and I still think that there is something wonky with the iPhone SIM. I had a lot of trouble getting my MacBookPro’s Bluetooth Internet Connection to stabilize but thanks to some coaching from David Pitkin I finally just nuked the pairing with the N95 and started fresh. I had to reboot a few times in the process of sorting this out due to my Mac automatically going into disconnecting mode with the phone even though a connection had not been activated. Quite frustrating!

If you’ve connected with Cingular or ATT in the past with other devices this will look familiar as it’s the standard setting

Network Control Panel

The Password for Cingular / ATT is CINGULAR1 (all caps). I believe the settings are case sensitive so be sure things are ALL CAPS! While you can’t see it, I have TCP Header compression on in PPP options. This should be a default setting…

Bluetooth Modem

Error correction is on and I am using the Nokia 3G CID1 script which can be found on Russ Barkman’s excellent site. When you download the modem scripts they need to go in /Library/Modem Scripts – that’s the machine level, not your user folder.

From there it’s a matter of just connecting either from your Menubar or from the Internet Connect and you should be online with your phone – in my case the Nokia N95-3.

Internet Connect

This has been seriously harder than any other DUN connection I’ve tried to get working and yet amazingly it’s using the standard settings. I was given a glimmer of hope earlier in the week when the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet connected after I tried adding a fresh setting. That did not have the same initial impact on the Mac. I’m 99.9% sure I was typing everything correctly based on the number of times I’ve tried to get this going. I think I would have hit it at least once! I still don’t seem to have MMS working, but I can let that slide in exchange for DUN.

Anyway… it’s working and I am ready to rock my 3G Bluetooth DUN connection when I travel. Who needs airport wifi?

David – I definitely owe you a beer in San Francisco this week!

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Stay Tuned for Some Exciting Nokia News at the Web 2.0 Summit!

web 2 nokia

Stefan notes some intrigue regarding next week’s Web 2 Summit in San Franciso and highlights Nokia’s Platinum Sponsorship of the event as well as the following …

“Nokia will also be hosting a stylish party in the adjacent Twin Peaks room, which will showcase their next generation of Web 2.0 offerings, launched earlier that afternoon.”[IntoMobile]

While I can’t say for sure at this stage, my money is on the new tablet and possibly some new integrated services from the Ovi Ecosystem. I’m guessing that since the FCC information spotted by Thoughtfix contained GPS and we believe WiMax as well as a slider keyboard that this will be the official preview of the device. It’s just prior to the FCC’s required confidentiality ends and seems like the perfect moment to announce things on their terms rather than let the FCC site reveal their plans.

GPS and Nokia Maps make a lot of sense on a new internet tablet – especially with the Navteq acquisition and the future services that have been discussed. As you may recall from the initial Press Release on Nokia Maps, Linux (the Tablet OS) was mentioned a possible future supported platform:

smart2go is new: the software turns mobile computers, smartphones and PDAs into local mapping and routing engines with a navigation option, providing worldwide mapping free of charge. In so doing, the unique hybrid solution combines the advantages of on-board and off-board navigation. Maps and location-aware content only need to be loaded once – they are then always available on the client. As smart2go will carry the application name “Nokia Maps” across many future Nokia devices, it will also be available for a diversity of other operating systems such as Windows Mobile 5 and Linux, in the future. [Nokia PR]

I’ll actually be at the Web 2 Summit as well as this party so you can count on some (as close to) live coverage of things as they go down. I’ll definitely be using Jaiku and will try to moblog snippets from the conference and party. It may be hard to reply in real time, but I will post as much as I can before settling into a more official post here. My N95 will be snapping pics and uploading to my photostream on Flickr. I am also sorting out ways to possibly stream some video as well if possible. It looks like I will have full 3G coverage – not sure about inside the venue though and I won’t know until there whether there will be accessible WiFi access. Stay Tuned!

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This iPhone Lockdown is Ridiculous!

iphone-lockThis has nothing to do with the Applications issue…

The iPhone is a completely locked device. Both the device itself as well as the SIM card from AT&T are locked. Of course, hackers have broken these things, but if you don’t want to have to break it to “fix it” you are pretty much out of luck in enabling features that are quite common for phones today.

Currently the iPhone does not support MMS or DUN and AT&T’s SIM is locked and prevented from offering these services to another device should you switch devices for the day (or longer). You can choose to have AT&T deactivate this SIM and activate a new (and different) SIM card for your other devices but this is both ridiculous and cumbersome since you would have to reverse the process in order to then use the iPhone. There’s nothing you can do except pay more money to use features most any other smart or feature phone offers. If you want the iPhone this is how it is. If you want another device in conjunction, AT&T is more than happy to sell you an additional line … and data plan!

I tend to use a lot of devices. I enjoy being with a GSM carrier so I can move between devices as the mood strikes me and usually choose the device that suits the need for that day or a particular trip. The Nokia N95-3 is an awesome (and open) device and the phone I currently want to be able to take full advantage. While I can use the 3G services AT&T offers on the phone with the iPhone SIM inside, I cannot send (wonder if I can receive) an MMS or use the phone as a bluetooth modem for my laptop or internet tablet. This is something I have long done (and paid for the privilege) with previous devices before the special iPhone plan was created. This special plan by the way includes unlimited data! I know even unlimited is limited (xxGB) in the TOS, but I should still be able to use (or even pay more if I must, to use) the device I want on the network I am paying to access.

I’m very frustrated by this situation and am not about to pay for a second phone plan or cancel the iPhone one and give AT&T and Apple the satisfaction of an ETF (~$170). I just want my 3G service in the N95 shared with my personal network of devices and when I want the iPhone for the day I am more than happy to deal with EDGE and WiFi. Is there an actual logical (not because Steve Jobs said so) explanation behind why this is impossible?

I’ve heard that PAN works with a Blackjack and iPhone SIM, but there’s no support for PAN in the Nokia’s that I’ve found… There’s a very interesting proxy access hack for the iPhone that seems like it would work on the N95, but there’s no proxyserver application that I’ve found. GNUBox looks promising, but is unsigned and rather complex to deal with.

Image found on Google… borrowed from ZDNet.

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Google gets it – Acquires Jaiku

Google hearts Jaiku

Yesterday, Jaiku announced that they are being acquired by Google! This is fantastic news – Congratulations to Jyri, Petteri and the hard working Jaiku team!!

I don’t think I’ve been shy about my usage of Jaiku on this blog (or elsewhere) and I was stoked to learn that Google sees the value inherent in what they have to offer. As our lives become increasingly more connected via mobile, Jaiku’s vision of presence with your contacts makes great sense! The integrated contacts application for S60 devices greatly enhances your communication potential since you know whether the person you might call or text is available and perhaps even where they are. Add in Lifestreaming and you get a very rich picture of what your friends are doing!

As soon as I heard the news I began to consider the other components in Google’s building mobile social net. They’ve got GrandCentral which can streamline your calling… but it has yet to integrate contacts with Gmail let along offer a sync option. Grandcentral can also not forward SMS messages but perhaps there’s a way to connect that with a (needs to be released) direct message capability in Jaiku. There’s a very exciting road ahead given the rumors of the mobile Google OS and Jaiku could easily play a very substantial role to connect you with your contacts and define your rich online presence.

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Sharing your iPhone’s SIM card…? No DUN or MMS for you!

I use a variety of devices as I am sure you’ve gathered by now and I’ve encountered some interesting things when using the iPhone’s SIM card with my Nokia N95…

Because you’ve got Visual Voicemail set up from the iPhone, there’s no easy way to call the ATT number and get your messages. It’s an entirely different system. The trick is to call your own number from your cell and you’ll be right in your inbox.

You get a txt message when a voicemail comes through which looks like this:

Visual Voicemail Notice NOT on the iPhone

The first time I missed a call it admittedly took a few moments to realize what I was looking at. I’ve blanked out my phone number above, but otherwise that’s what you get. I just delete them now and call in for the message. Sometimes a second txt arrives after you’ve listened and deleted… This is clearly not Visual Voicemail.

As I’ve mentioned a few times in a some recent posts, the iPhone does not support the 3.5G services ATT offers but the SIM does not prevent that speed from coming through to the handset of your choice… No changes are required to enjoy this, just plug it in and roll!

The rub with regard to data is that there does not seem to be a way to use your non-iPhone on the iPhone plan as a bluetooth modem via Dial-Up Networking (DUN). I’ve tried my laptop (which immediately recognized the N95 and was ready to go with ATT) as well as my Nokia N800 Internet Tablet, but neither device was able to actually connect.

MMS also does not work at all.

Mms blocked! Mms blocked!

My guess is that the SIM has locked out these features since the iPhone does not offer them. I am having trouble accepting this on principle that I have unlimited data plan with messaging (and ATT can bill incrementally for MMS if they want). DUN I can accept as a slightly different deal, but should still be made to work as it always has before the iPhone.

If anyone has a working shared iPhone SIM DUN connection, please let me know! I know I fall into the minority here, but there’s got to be a way to get this working … before I have to call ATT.

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Nokia – Why is this still an issue?

Why is this still an issue?

Sometimes it’s the little things that make me nuts!

I was just trying to explore the Downloads folder on the N95 and kept running into an error about my Wifi connection already being in use, which is one of the more annoying errors to find, though at least it’s descriptive.

I snapped a screenshot to share and tried to use Share Online to upload and again ran into an error though this time it was considerably less descriptive: System Error -30207. For the interest of future googling, I decided to post this so it might help others… The problem is that again, the WiFi connection is in use.

I can’t think of a good reason why any data connection can’t be shared across applications. This is a “multimedia computer” after all.

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Nokia N95 or Apple iPhone?

The iPhone and Nokia N95 are constantly compared these days as they represent the über device from both Nokia and Apple. Aside from this detail they really target very different audiences. The iPhone is a more mass oriented unit while the N95 goes for the higher end prosumer mobilista. The gadget lust associated with the iPhone however, has attracted plenty of geeks and potentially higher end users… Since I have both and have extended experience using them over a good amount of time, I thought I’d share my views on how they stack up.

Smartphone or Feature Phone?

As reluctant as I was perhaps initially to say this, the iPhone is not a smartphone. It is however, a truly fantastic feature phone and one that all phones and handheld devices will be measured against based on some fantastic software engineering. The browser is amazing to use and media playback is outstanding. If you are an iTunes user it does not get any easier to sync your photo, video and music content. Apple has also made it very simple and straightforward to sync your contacts, calendar and bookmarks. Bookmarks are of particular interest given how strong the browser experience really is.

The N95 is able to do all that I’ve mentioned so far with the iPhone, though configuring sync takes a bit more effort and it’s not possible on Mac to sync bookmarks… PC Users can use Nokia’s PC Suite. That said, the N95 really takes it up a notch with regard to applications. While this is a particular sore point for the iPhone community after the latest firmware release, the latest iPhone apps still did not compare to what can be done with the N95.

At the basic level of things, the iPhone can only send SMS messages to a single recipient; disables the ability to forward an SMS to another person and offers no MMS. I tend to email pics over MMS, but it’s nice to at least have the option of receiving an MMS message which has happened more than a few time with family picture sharing. The iPhone can also only use purchased tracks from iTunes as ringtones. The N95 can do it all here including using any sound file you like for a ringtone.

Marketing can really create the perception that something is more than it is and it would be hard to find fault in the Apple strategy which to date has been executed flawlessly. Because Apple is targeting a mass audience they have developed the popular perception that the iPhone is everything that you need in a beautiful simple package. They are right too — assuming you fit in the demographic set. Nokia on the other hand has taken a very different approach with their devices in general and more specifically here in the US where the carriers tend to own the relationship with the consumer. The current Open campaign has had a few bigger impressions (spreads in the NYT) but is for the most part a more targeted approach designed to appeal to the more intense mobile user. The best way I can sum this up is something quite a few of the mobile blogging community has shared:

The iPhone is for consuming content, while the N95 is for creating it.

Another way might be to say one is for passive use (predominately reading) while the other is far more active (sharing back). The N95 can of course be used to consume content and does a very good job, though when compared to the Apple ecosystem it falters a bit. This is not to slight the Nokia effort, but more to compliment the Apple one. When you control the entire flow, you can do special things not available to someone working with a number of different components from different parties. The N95 does have some very cool tricks. Using the video center application, you can browse, download and view video from a variety of sources like YouTube and beyond. The upcoming release of Flash Lite 3 will support .flv files which means we’ll be able to view video on a web page. Of course the iPhone can do this today – but only for h.264 content.

The N95’s 5MP Camera and flash shoot gorgeous still and 30fps video at a very high resolution. Nokia likes to say DVD-Quality which is a stretch in my opinion, but the results are seriously good and something that plays very well on a large screen. Out of the box, the N95 is ready to post fullsize (EXIF included) images to Flickr as well as video to Vox. With the addition of third party apps you can post content to an array of sites which enables you to live blog or lifestream as you go. The iPhones 2MP camera takes pretty good shots in well lit environments, but no video and when you choose to send a picture, the iPhone automatically forces things to scale to 640×480 and simultaneously strips the EXIF data out.

Speed baby, Speed!

While I am sure we’ve all heard the line that the cost to the battery of 3G did not make sense for the iPhone, it’s hard to ignore if you live in a covered area. Having now truly experienced 3G(UMTS) and even 3.5G(HSPDA) it’s hard to go back to EDGE which is simply pokey by comparison. Both the N95 and iPhone have 802.11 G WiFi connections, but when you download or stream content over 3G on a train or in a car,you start to expect more than what you can get from WiFi. Of course if you really just want to be able to glance down and see that the latest email is in your inbox, EDGE is just fine.

The N95 can also be used as bluetooth modem for your laptop or Internet Tablet if you like which is something that cannot be said for the iPhone. It’s when you start to really explore online or transfer larger files that you really want the speed.

Webkit does not equal Safari…

While both the N95 and the iPhone use webkit as the core engine for their browsers, the iPhone has pushed things much closer to a desktop experience. The focus on enabling tabbed browsing really makes the iPhone infinitely more useful. I usually leave a tab open to Gmail and another to Jaiku. Links from email (I also use POP and IMAP) open in a fresh tab which does not disturb existing sessions. Safari on the iPhone is also smart enough to restore my tabs if it should happen to crash – or even if you restart the device. The N95 cannot open a second tab or window even though the N95-3 has enough RAM to enable multiple window surfing, it is not possible – yet. Perhaps a candidate for a future beta labs release….

The Full Internet Myth

Sure you can choose to browse the full version of a sites on either device, but the best (as in most efficient use of your time) is still through the mobile web. This is my opinion of course, not a fact, but I’ve spent enough time reading on the small screen to believe that a mobilized site can deliver the meat of what you want / need without the BS associated from the larger view. Aside from vastly improved load times on EDGE, fewer system resources are used to render the page as well so it can really seem quite speedy.

The iPhone does offer some slick tricks with the screen rotation and tap zooming but I tend to only take advantage of that on a WiFi connection as it’s annoying to wait when on the go.

Open or Closed?

The iPhone was hacked to enable applications, but it seems destined to be a hack for the time being (once the latest firmware is again hacked) rather than being an open system for applications and owner freedom. While I enjoyed using AppTapp to download and play with the applications that were available to iPhones, they were in no way competitive with the current roster of applications for the S60 platform. Sure some of this can just be based on the maturity of S60 over the few months old iPhone system, but it really comes down to how both companies view their devices.

The proper path to develop for the iPhone is through the Safari browser which currently limits you to online only services without local storage, access to basic phone features like contacts or calendar let alone more advanced ideas with presence or easy access to the phone’s data connection. There is no current API for more serious development.

On the N95, it is quite easy to add applications that suit your need. I regularly snap pictures and videos and as noted above usually opt to lifestream them to flickr on the go using a variety of tools. Zonetag can access my location data which can be shared along with the EXIF data in the full scale image as it uploads. I run a version of Gmail built in Java that gives me a very similar experience to the fuller web version (archive, delete, spam, tag views and search…). Jaiku integrates with my contacts to share presence status and enables me to easily maintain contact within my social network. I use Handy Weather to download forecasts automatically every few hours and use the information as my screen saver so at a quick glance I get an idea of what tomorrow will be like. I can choose from a selection of mapping applications that can take advantage of storing content locally on a memory card and using the GPS features as I like. There are countless other examples.

Beyond applications, the N95 is sold as an unbranded unlocked device while the iPhone is sold only with a contract for ATT service. An unlocked and unbranded device means you get to choose what you do with it and what (GSM) carrier you want. If you travel, you can easily swap the SIM card for another and pay local rates or use a pre-pay if you want. You make a plan decision on the iPhone during activation and need to stick it out for the term of your contract. I was already and ATT customer so it was not a big deal, but this is something to definitely consider…

What device is for you?

I am asked frequently which is better and that’s a really hard call because it really comes down to how you think you might use the device moving forward. The iPhone’s strength is that it offers an easy way to do more than most people have ever considered on a handset. Advanced users may soon see past the UI beauty and yearn for more power and there’s only one way to go there. I’m hoping that Nokia is paying enough attention (as I believe they are) and makes a few adjustments through either the beta labs or just directly in future firmware to the browsing experience which is the only current weakness in the N95-3.

For now I am still actively using both, though with a single SIM card I have to decide daily based on what I think I need. The N95 is currently in my pocket …

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The battle to post your content online!

uploaders 2

If you use a Nokia N-Series you are probably familiar with the web upload (now Share Online 3.0 beta) feature on your phone to share content to Flickr and Vox. You may have also heard of and tried Shozu or the recently updated for S60v3 Zonetag. Shozu is the only application that easily lets you upload to services beyond Flickr and Vox. Zonetag can understandably only post to Flickr. All are free to use, but have different features and limitations. Like most things, applications are personal and I’ve been testing them all to see what works best for me. My needs are pretty simple for images – I only use Flickr. My video site of choice Viddler is not supported by any of these services, so I’ll keep this post to photos which is what I capture far more often anyway.


For a long time I was a Shozu loyalist. Because you can set Shozu to work in the background automatically, it’s very easy to lifestream your photos and videos to the site(s) of your choosing. I prefer to review before I post and Shozu supports that as well a fully manual mode where you launch it and choose what you want to post. I also like that Shozu asks whether screen shots should be uploaded… If you are on a supported device and use GPS, you can also geo-tag your images which is very cool for the map feature on flickr.

I have two issues with Shozu that seem to be echoed by other power users and for some reason have yet to be addressed in any meaningful way. If you shoot video, you’ll find the 10MB file upload limits imposed by Shozu quite stifling. My other more critical issue is that it has simply stopped working in a reliable manner for me on the N95. While it performed really well on the N93, N80 and N73, the N95 has been a source of pain. As I result I’ve been very open to change.

Nokia Share Online 3.0

The Nokia Web Upload option is something easy to use for any N-Series owner. After you get a special password via the Nokia / Flickr site you can then send up to 6 pictures at once up to your Flickr account. It’s quite simple, though more passive than Shozu in that there is no option to be prompted to upload on each shot. This is a feature I really like about both Shozu and Zonetag. As the Web Upload function has evolved into the latest beta labs creation Share Online 3.0, you can finally upload in the background! I’ve never had a problem using previous or even the latest beta versions. It’s very straight forward and simple.

Zonetag + Zurfer

Zonetag is very intriguing. It’s a product from the Yahoo! Research Berkeley and supports a large number of features for Flickr (owned by Yahoo as well) which make it a pleasure to use. Zonetag runs in the background on your device and when you snap a pic, prompts you to upload. If you say yes, you get a details screen which lets you set tags, control privacy settings and adjust the geo-tag. I love that I can control privacy so my public vs private shots are a non-issue. The geo-tagging system is also very slick. It seems to use A-GPS which works great on the N95. You can make Zonetag guess and then correct and teach it later via Flickr’s site or you can set more specific detail as you go. Unlike Shozu and Share Online, there does not seem to be a way to use Zonetag to upload if you say no on the initial prompt.

If you add a second application from Yahoo research called Zurfer, you can engage Yahoo very interactively and make and review comments on your shots or those of either contacts or the public pool. I did a walk through on Zurfer one back in June

Nokia’s Share Online application offers a more limited view into Flickr than Zonetag but for the first time enables viewing of your photostream locally on the device for both you and your Flickr contacts. Shozu does not offer viewing of Flickr content, but it’s an easy way to see when a comment has been posted to an image of yours.

At this point, Zonetag offers the highest level of flickr integration — especially with the addition of Zurfer to view back upstream. The Nokia Share Online application shows a great deal of promise — though I can’t currently add tags, set location, or upload right after a shot is taken. All of these are must have in my book for any serious user. It’s unclear whether Nokia’s plan is to cover a broader base of user and let the 3rd party guys go for the power users, but I think an integrated native solution is a killer app. Shozu seems hit or miss. It work on some N95 and yet has not worked on my two devices through several firmware updates. While Shozu has the potential to do more than the others with the additional services supported, if it doesn’t work none of that matters.

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Nokia Delivers with the US Nokia N95!

Nokia - N95

Nokia’s Unlocked Campaign is enjoying some magical timing right now. While there’s no way to have predicted that Apple would become so greedy with regard to apps on the iPhone – sometimes you just score.

As I mentioned in my Unlock LA recap, Nokia has committed some substantial resources to the US market and finally delivered a very high end device to take specific advantage of the available 3G network. The N95-3 is an amazing release and represents everything that the N-Seres platform has to offer. While physically it look like the original, substantial enhancements have been made that deliver on the promise we initially heard.

In specs, the N95 in all it’s flavors (there are now three) is a very powerful device that delivers great voice and data capabilities, robust multimedia creation and consumption ability and looks and feels great in your hand as well. That said, my initial experiences while cool from a geek perspective, was also disappointing by some actual limitations as well. There are quite a few software related bugs that got in the way causing either input or low memory errors or both; an overtaxed and anemic battery tends to cap out after only a few short hours; and even some reports of poor build quality.

I don’t think I can emphasize enough that Nokia shorted the original N95 in RAM making it difficult to impossible to multitask efficiently — at least the way I want to use things. I could never snap an in the moment picture if anything was open and running…

Those days are over.

The N95-3 is exactly what should have been released initially making it truly the “multimedia computer” Nokia touted. With about 80MB of RAM available to the user along with the new 1200mAh BL-6F Battery AND the addition of US HSPDA, the N95-3 is a force to be reckoned with!

Now that's what I'm talking about!

It was impossible to really appreciate the changes to the N95 in LA. Even though there was plenty of time to play, it’s not the same experience as when you are able to load your own applications and use things over the course of a day. As you can see in the screenshot above, I have plenty of things running simultaneously and almost 58MB of RAM free. For non-S60 users, this is a metric-assload and something you just don’t see. It also means that I don’t have to worry about deciding to snap a picture or shoot a video and seeing an out of memory error or worry that something will have been shut down in the background – both regular experiences on the previous edition.

Over the past two days I’ve been really using this device pretty actively – though the way I usually do as well. Jaiku has been loaded and active the entire day along with the browser and a number of other apps which I use on and off as needed. I’ve made liberal use of WiFI as well as cellular data and a few applications (Nokia Maps, Zonetag, Jaiku and Earthcomber) have tapped the location capabilities of the GPS (as well as through A-GPS) and my battery has easily made it from morning until dinnertime and beyond. Aside from the fact that it is impossible to run everything at once on the original model, the battery would certainly have been drained by lunchtime.

I can’t say I really have any real gripes here. The Multimedia Key was initially unresponsive but was fixed by powering down and removing the battery for a few minutes. I already knew (but forgot courtesy of the iPhone) that the S60 browser does not easily handle multiple windows – something that would be amazing now with all this memory. Shozu refuses to run reliably, but that’s not Nokia’s fault and Yahoo’s Zonetag’s S60v3 release seems to be filling that need nicely.

I do have an issue with ATT… get the 3G service to Northern Westchester, STAT!! I had a taste (all over NYC and in Southern Westchester) of 3G – actually 3.5G according to the N95 and wow!! EDGE, while adequate for email and mobile optimized browsing is nothing in comparison to the speed of the faster network. It’s equivalent to the upgrade from dial-up to broadband.

Even though much of the N95 is familiar, this latest release is like a new experience and I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface. Having so many capabilities in such a small package and essentially no limit on what you can do is seriously empowering. I will certainly have more to add soon…

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Nokia +Navteq = The Future of LBS

I have yet to post on Nokia’s acquisition of Navteq, but this certainly sums it up nicely …

Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) recent purchase of Navteq is more than just grabbing a navigation service, according to comments on the companies recent conference call. Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia’s EVP multimedia, said: “Maps and location based services is a key service area we are focusing on. In fact, I see, that location and context information is a key component in our future internet services, including search and navigation, photos and videos, as well as presence and communities. Our vision is that the location information helps build the next base of the bed with context sensitive services.” Vanjoki spoke about making pedestrian navigation a value added service for consumers, claiming that the “pedestrian location-based services market is totally undeveloped with basically zero penetration among the 3 billion mobile devices uses globally”. This includes: finding friends, where your map on the device will show you in realtime where your friends, family and other acquaintances are, allowing you to stay in touch; creating your own location tags to add information to a map; and organise photos, video and other media according to location. Vanjoki said this was the justification for buying Navteq rather than just partnering with it: “These type of features and services you can only create efficiently if you have the map data and consumer application parts in the same company. [ mocoNews.net]

The mobile is key to connectivity – with your friends and to the information that matters. It is the most personal device we have… Having GPS and location information accessible to applications or simply to the device itself opens up a whole world of opportunity. An enhanced presence application like Jaiku enables me to share where I am, what I am doing and even that I am available for contact. As I shoot pictures and video or search for information online, my phone can tag or flag things that can then be easily shared with my friends and family. The future is looking bright!

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Avaya and Nokia rolling out FMC to Business

SMS Text News cover a piece on Nokia and Avaya’s FMC solution…

Avaya and Nokia today announced the next phase of their strategic collaboration with a solution that provides users of Nokia Eseries business devices with one number access and advanced enterprise telephony capabilities as they travel across private Wi-Fi and public mobile networks. With a single mobile device, workers can “handoff” phone calls at the click of a button, using dual mode communications, as they travel from inside a company building (Wi-Fi) to the outside environment (mobile) – and vice versa. This gives workers a more convenient and productive way to manage their communications, while giving organisations a more cost-effective approach to enterprise mobility.

The solution – Avaya one-X Mobile Dual Mode Edition – combines Internet protocol (IP)-based applications with Nokia Eseries business devices – the Nokia E60, Nokia E61 and Nokia E70 models – to deliver the full benefits of FMC. The offering includes a dual-mode device with Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) capabilities that can make and receive calls over both mobile and wireless local area networks (WLAN), both on and off a company campus.For example: when a worker is communicating while roaming inside company walls, the solution uses the company’s communications system and a secure Wi-Fi network. This drives cost savings by eliminating the need to use cellular minutes while at work. When the worker travels outside a company’s Wi-Fi network, they can handoff their Wi-Fi call to the cellular network outside by pressing a button, keeping their conversation going uninterrupted.[SMS Text News]

While not seemless as I understand UMA to work between networks, FMC is still a very slick solution. I’ve yet to work for an organization that offers anything close to this, but since you typically get a desk and mobile phone, a single solution seems quite logical and I am sure is starting to get CIO and CTOs thinking twice about their blackberry server… an E-Series can integrate considerably beyond outlook sync.

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Nokia Unlocks LA!

unlock LA

Now that I’ve had a day or so to reflect on the Nokia event in LA, I wanted to share some thoughts and observations. While preparing to head out for the trip I fully expected to see something new. I knew the US N95 was imminent and just before the trip, I learned that a few Tablet bloggers (Reggie and Thoughtfix) were going as well so my gears were working overtime expecting a new tablet. As it turned out, the news we received was more confirmation of both the devices and actions Nokia is taking in the US market. Selfishly, I found this a bit disappointing at first, but upon further review I am glad to see that there is both focus and commitment to this market.

As I learned earlier in the year, Nokia has only earned a 4% market share in the US (please correct me on this), so the fact that there’s a high end device designed to specifically take things on is a very good thing. The US N95, 8GB N95 and N81 were all on display and will be touted as the key devices for us here as featured on the N-Series site and I am sure as well as in current and pending marketing efforts.

09/27/2007 09/27/2007

The premise of the night was about unlocking the potential and certainly unlocking LA which seems to be the continuing theme in most Nokia Marketing since at least the summer. There were representatives from various retail outlets in addition the the bloggers, Nokia ambassadors and partners like Sling Media. From what I was able to learn in conversation it seems Nokia is planning a deeper marketing assault on the technology lifestyle segment (“Trendies”) which would follow the lead of the technology early adopters. Through these two key groups Nokia can expect a great deal of word of mouth…. the techies in the various forums and blogs and the trendies through more interpersonal (be seen) interactions.

While Nokia’s advertising spend for the US seems small based on the limited media you see, there may be other deals brewing which will enable the brand to cross into consumer’s lives and take best advantage of the mobile freedom the products offer. I like this approach as it allows for a much more targeted and focused messaging strategy with key audience segments and limits the potential media overspend. Of course Nokia has to really deliver here or their messaging will be over-run by the much larger spends of Apple and the US Carriers. (If you believe what you see Verizon offers a very robust and compelling mobile experience in their walled garden.)

I was able to meet both readers of the blog (very surreal and cool) as well as meet plenty of bloggers I read and Jaiku members I follow. My host WOM World, did a fantastic job planning the trip and keeping the suspense rolling right up through the party which was a lot of fun and I thought of great value. We were able to mingle and network with Nokia Product Managers as as well Bill Plummer, Vice President, Nokia, Multimedia Sales & Channel Management, North America. As a blogger and technology enthusiast, it’s always great to speak directly to a company, but in this case we were talking directly to those most likely able to influence the future based on the feedback.

09/28/2007 09/27/2007

09/27/2007 09/28/2007

Thank you Nokia and WOM World for a fantastic trip! I sincerely hope there will be others and I welcome the opportunity to travel again or meet you more locally to share in the experience.

I shot a ton of video and will be editing and posting clips as I can edit … stay tuned for more!

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