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Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 07:30

We are back with another Top 7 Apps submission and we have Nicolas Ott, Managing Director of Telecoms of Arqiva Telecoms.

Nicolas joined Arqiva in January 2012 as Managing Director of Telecoms which provides cellular, wireless broadband and voice & data solutions for the mobile communications, public safety, local government and commercial markets. He is passionate about fitness, sports, good food and music. Nicolas is married and lives in West London.

Nicolas uses the iPhone 4 and let’s have a look at his list…

– – – – –

Italian Larousse: My wife is Italian but my vocabulary is very rusty. This app is a convenient way for me to learn new words on the go until eventually I can become ‘piu esperti’ (that’s expert in Italian!).

Windfinder: Kite-surfing is one of my favourite ways to unwind on holiday. Windfinder allows me to find the perfect place and conditions to surf so I can make the most of my free time – or to stay in my hammock if there is no decent wind!

Better Leisure Centre: I am a keen tennis player and this app has made it so much easier for me to book courts at my leisure centre and stay on top of my game. It makes playing tennis at my club so easy.

Nike Running: My team here at Arqiva are all fitness fanatics – we have triathlon runners, cyclists and some even compete in “ironman” challenges. We are all motivated individuals – both when it comes to work and physical fitness –and the Nike Running app is very user friendly, allowing me to track my sessions and fitness progress.

Michelin Restaurants: We all know that good meals matter! This is a great app to find the right restaurant when you are in a place you don’t know – such as the very good pub just next to Emley Moor!

Shazam: It’s always exciting when you hear a great song and can find its name and download it, or when you can’t remember the name of an old one you are listening to! Shazam is a great app which means as long as I have my phone on me I can find the song’s details within 3 seconds.

Le Monde: I like to stay in touch with news stories in my home country, which are often quite surprising.

– – – – –

Thanks to Nicolas for his list of apps. I’ve just got back into running myself so I’m using the Nike Running app a lot at the moment. Also Shazam saves me from a lifetime of trying to type in lyrics to google – which are never right!

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, Arqiva, Nicolas Ott, top 7..."
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 07:20

Big Data Title

There has been a lot of hype about “big data” in recent years, but what does it mean for mobile network operators and how can they benefit from it?

Big data is a catch-all term that involves new methods and technologies for collecting, managing, and analysing in real-time the vast increase in data (now typically Petabytes, Exabytes and Zettabytes).

It has been a buzzword in the oil and financial sectors for several years, but it’s only more recently that network operators are starting to realise its potential. It is especially relevant to operators, who are looking for new ways to increase profits in an age of declining revenues – but as yet, less than half have the capability to fully exploit this relatively new technology.

Operators interested in Big Data

Operators are starting to adopt big data strategies

Billions of Gigabytes of data

According to Cisco’s 2014 Visual Networking Index report, mobile data will exceed that from wired devices by 2018, with 61% of data traffic. That’s a staggering growth – in fact even now mobile traffic exceeds that of the entire global Internet in 2000…and by 2016, the amount of data traversing the Internet is expected to reach 1 billion Gigabytes per month!

Likewise for mobile in an age of bandwidth-hungry smartphones, the amount of subscriber data that the networks generate is staggering – mobile data now makes up a huge proportion of global traffic, and it’s this information that can be used to profile customers, improve the networks, or even sold to third party companies.

It’s a sobering thought that your mobile network probably holds Gigabytes of data about you. Every time you make a call, surf the web or send a text, you’re generating useful information. Even by simply having your phone connected to the network, you are sending details about your location, speed, and countless other metrics that reveal perhaps more than you’d like.

The opportunities for big data in telecoms

Why is big data important to mobile operators? It promises to promote growth (and profitability) in several ways:

  • Optimisation (quality of service) though better network traffic analysis
  • Prevention of fraudulent behaviour (by analysis of call data records)
  • Tailored marketing campaigns to individual customers – by location and social networks
  • Development of new products and services based on customer behaviour analysis

Big data on its own is useless without effective analytical tools to interpret the data, with the aim of reducing costs and improving the customer experience. Ultimately, the declining revenues of voice and data services also means that the networks want to monetise their customer data in any way possible. Increasingly that means selling or sharing the data with third parties or government departments for marketing or planning purposes. For example, it might be incredibly useful to know what routes are used by crowds leaving a football match so that public transport can be co-ordinated effectively.

How is big data being used?

The mobile operator places special probes in its network that capture billions of daily records, which are then processed to extract useful metrics and (supposedly) anonymised where necessary to remove personal subscriber details. A network with millions of subscribers might generate 10s of billions of data records each day – these all need to be stored, processed, analysed and finally interpreted.

The data collected about you is used to generate statistics about the volume and rate of text messages and voice calls, Internet data volume (web, email and video), and metrics related to call setup times, mobile network usage by region and cell, and other valuable insights such as the top smartphones by data usage.

Customer privacy and security

After the various high profile revelations in the past few years regarding phone tapping and breaches in security, customers are even more concerned how companies use their sensitive personal data.

The mobile networks have unparalleled knowledge of our behaviour patterns (such as browsing habits, physical location, text message content and social network posts), that they are quite rightly wary about selling their big data for commercial gain.

Big data challenges

Telecoms companies have always handled terabytes of data but it’s the quantity, diversity and complexity of the data that has dramatically increased.

Quantity. 4G mobile networks are leading to a massive increase in the amount of data generated by customers, and social media and video sharing are adding to the problem. This means greater storage capacity is needed as well as better ways to organise and access the data.

Diversity. Smartphones, Internet-enabled devices and a new wave of sensors (everything from home monitoring to personal fitness devices) are all generating traffic on the networks in a variety of new data formats. The data has to be efficiently organised and structured before it can be analysed.

Complexity. Telcos need to handle data volumes to large and complex for humans to deal with, while maintaining the quality and integrity of the data.

It’s clear that big data holds great promise for mobile operators, and is an opportunity to gain valuable insights into their subscribers. This should promote a better understanding of their networks and an improved customer experience. It can also be a catalyst to increase revenue and drive innovation, which should lead to better quality networks and services.

Hopefully, it’s the customers that will ultimately benefit from big data.

Author: "Roland B" Tags: "Operators, Opinion, T-Mobile"
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Date: Monday, 29 Sep 2014 07:30

We’re back again with another Top 7 Apps submission and this time we have Peter Sells, Head of Mobile at Havas EHS. Here’s a bit more about Havas EHS;

Havas EHS, part of the Havas network, is a full service global agency, the sole global digital agency of record for Dove, Surf and more recently Dove Men+Care, with clients as diverse as Tesco Clubcard, E.ON and Volvo. Through our creative focus on innovation and digital initiative we have seen double digit growth in 2014, with new wins from, Viking Cruises and Heathrow plus new business from existing clients like TSB and Unilever, new awards for clients such as Pets at Home and easyjet and over 100 new hires across all disciplines. We are building on our data reputation with the launch of our new market-leading data and digital product tool in the UK and globally. Havas EHS is re-shaping its future at real pace, with real results.

Peter uses a iPhone 4 and a Nexus 5. Let’s take a look through his list…

– – – – –

img0327 - Peter SellsCitymapper – Love it love it love it. For two reasons 1) it does what it promises delightfully and effectively 2) the text accompanying the regular updates makes me laugh. Refreshing for an app to communicate a bit of personality don’t you think?

Hailo – you’re either an Uber dude or Hailo chap. I’m the latter. I prefer black cab chat I think. And Black cabs can use bus lanes – think about it people.

Spotify – has fundamentally changed my relationship with music and my attitude to ‘ownership’. Spotify premium is like an all-you-can-eat music buffet without the nausea.

Facetime/Skype – anything that allows me to see my kids when work doesn’t has got to be in this list right? Should be no. 1

Evernote – like a digital bag I can chuck bits and bobs in and read later on my convenience. Sorry at my convenience.

Google voice search – Accurate, faster than typing and you look like a berk. Just pretend you’re talking to someone.

Dark Sky – better than Michael Fish. I get a peculiar thrill when a notification tells me it’s going to rain in 15 mins for 45 mins – and it does. The only time I am confident about what will happen in the future. That and Spurs not making top 4 again this season.

– – – – –

Thanks to Peter for his list, I’m a big Evernote user so I know the value of that one. I think I should download Dark Sky as I have too often been caught without a coat or umbrella in a downpour!

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, Havas EHS, Peter Sells, to..."
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Date: Sunday, 28 Sep 2014 22:21

Microsoft cloud and mobile first smartphone strategy

Is the cloud and mobile-first strategy making any difference?

Microsoft has set its sights firmly on the smartphone market with the acquisition of Nokia. Since the failure of Windows Mobile, its previous smartphone platform, Microsoft desperately needed to unify their struggling mobile hardware and software business. And Nokia, who had been caught off guard by competitors such as Apple and Samsung, needed a much wider audience than it could achieve on its own.

When it comes to smartphone market share, things have not been encouraging for Microsoft – Windows Phone only accounts for a few percent of smartphone sales (even though Windows Phone has been around since 2010, it has yet to exceed much more than 5-6% percent share), a fact that makes Microsoft more determined than ever to attract users to the platform. While the situation might look bleak in the face of Android and iOS’s domination, Microsoft has a great opportunity to win customers by offering more diverse and attractive devices, as well as leveraging its strengths in the business / enterprise market.

But these days, smartphone hardware capabilities are become increasingly irrelevant (just take Apple, who is often criticised for playing catchup in terms of hardware and features, but consistently sells tens of millions of iPhones). What matters most is a superior ecosystem of cloud-based software and tightly integrated services that work in harmony. And its the relationships with hardware vendors and its own Nokia business that Microsoft can use to redraw the battleground.

What does cloud-first and mobile-first really mean?

Even before the Nokia deal closed, Microsoft was promoting “cloud and mobile first”, in contrast to the “devices and services” ethos espoused by previous CEO Steve Ballmer.

Satya Nadella Cloud

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, selling the merits of cross-platform cloud services and apps

When you look closely at what this really means, it is more of a refocus rather than a change of direction. Since Satya Nadella became the CEO early in 2014, the changes in Microsoft’s overall strategy have become clearer and despite the rhetoric, the opportunities for Microsoft to increase adoption of Windows Phone are there to be taken.

“Microsoft has always been about bringing those three constituents together with platforms and applications, and we now do that in a mobile-first, cloud-first world” – Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

Windows was once aimed solely at traditional PCs, but is now positioned to address a much wider market that includes tablets, smartphones and even the Xbox. Microsoft sees all these devices as an opportunity to expand, reflected in their desire to create apps for iOS and Android. And it knows that a vibrant, diverse ecosystem is essential to tie users into Windows. Microsoft will never abandon the PC market, but it’s increasingly emphasising its cloud services and trying to attract customers to its Nokia brand.

Cloud first pays off

When you really think about “mobile first, cloud first” it’s easy to see how the cloud part fits in, because Microsoft can easily take its desktop products and rework them into modern cloud-based services. Consider Office – it has been a mainstay of the enterprise for two decades and has now been re-spun as the subscription-based Office 365.

When it comes to Office 365, the vision is pretty straightforward. It is to make sure that the 1 billion Office users and growing can have access to the high-fidelity Office experience on every device they love to use – Microsoft

There’s also OneDrive, which is baked into Windows 8 desktop and Windows Phone allowing users to store any type of documents in the cloud, and according to Microsoft there are now 250 million active OneDrive accounts with over 11 billion photos stored. Microsoft’s other software products such as Skype and Outlook are also incredibly popular, and could be killer apps in its cloud-based future.

And in the enterprise, Microsoft has positioned Intune and Azure Active Directory as cloud-based mobile device management and identity solutions that help IT departments to manage all the various cloud services used by employees, with clear separation between personal data and sensitive company information. Because it works with Windows, Android, and iOS, it’s a convenient and attractive to IT departments trying to cope with the complexity that ‘bring your own device’ entails.

As far as the cloud is concerned, Microsoft is promoting and investing heavily in the technologies, applications and services, and stands a good chance of making them more ubiquitous and seamlessly integrated into all its smartphone and desktop products. For example, using OneDrive as the default location for Word documents on iPad means that you can pick up where you left off on Office 365 without having to save and copy files manually.

More recently, in a sign that its cloud strategy is starting to pay off, Microsoft announced that commercial cloud revenue has doubled this year to $4.4 billion.

Nokia smartphones – the weakest link?

As much as Nadella has touted Windows, he’s made it clear that Microsoft is focusing on cross-platform strategies, highlighted by the Office for iPad release in March this year. Those apps (Word, Excel and Powerpoint) quickly rose to the top of the iPad charts – as a freemium model they are available free to view documents but require an Office 365 subscription to create documents. But by creating compelling products on rival platforms, Microsoft hopes to extend the reach of its most popular applications that users are already familiar with and use every day. With Office on iPad, Microsoft has got off to an encouraging start.

Office is available for rival smartphone and tablet platforms

Office on the iPad has been a success story for Microsoft

However, Microsoft still needs Windows Phone and the Nokia brand to succeed if it wants to remain relevant in the mobile space. And it’s in the more lucrative mid and high-tier segments that Microsoft remains a niche player, though at least in public says it’s happy with third place for now.

Why are Nokia Lumia sales less than inspiring? It’s certainly not hardware capabilities that are the problem; its flagship devices such as the Lumia 930 have been well received by the tech press and offer impressive specifications (for example high-end cameras, quad-core processors and full HD displays) that in many cases exceed what the iPhones offers.

There are also plenty of big name Windows Phone apps in the store now, but Microsoft needs to do more to attract developers who often ignore Windows Phone or that develop for iOS and Android first. Microsoft has improved its developer tools to make it simpler to create apps in Visual Studio, but it’s a chicken and egg situation: without the app store revenues developers won’t create apps, and without the apps consumers won’t buy a Nokia smartphone. There is still much more to do to address the problem; perhaps the ability to develop cross-platform apps in Visual Studio that work on all those devices would make it a no-brainer for software developers?

Finally, Microsoft has hinted it will drop the Nokia brand name at some point in the future. Perhaps that change needs to happen more quickly, as a single Windows brand would simplify its marketing message. Moreover, a truly common OS (Windows 9) on the desktop and Windows Phone would allow developers to create a single application that works on every device. If Microsoft does consolidate Windows, it may help to gain smartphone share and become a legitimate rival for Android and iOS.

Microsoft’s smartphone business looks promising and for now seems to be taking the right approach with its cloud and mobile-centric strategy. It remains to be seen how effective this will be, and whether it translates into higher sales for its Nokia smartphones and Surface tablets.

You can read more about Apple’s Enterprise strategy in our related post.

Author: "Roland B" Tags: "Devices, News, Services, cloud, Microsof..."
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 07:30

I’m delighted to have a Top 7 Apps submission from Suresh Batchu, co-founder, CTO, and SVP of Engineering, MobileIron. Here’s a little bit more about what the company does:

MobileIron provides the foundation for companies around the world to transform into Mobile First organisations. For more information, please visit www.mobileiron.com.

Suresh currently uses an iPhone as his primary phone and Nokia (Lumia 920) Windows Phone as secondary. Suresh used to have Android Phone before and he keeps rotating phones every year to keep up with all the operating systems.

Let’s crack on with Suresh’s list:

– – – – –

FlipBoard: It has become a ritual for me to read news after work.

MobileDay: Our VP Marketing introduced me to this and it makes dialling way easier.

WhatsApp: Recently we have become WhatsApp family and it’s great with close friends too.

LinkedIn: They have added some new features that are great.

Google Maps: I am very bad at directions… and our VP Biz Dev says that I am a bad driver too :)

YouTube: My kids don’t know what a TV is – they only know YouTube and Netflix.

Flickr: They enabled auto update and now all my family pictures are on Flickr. 1 TB free… no one can beat that yet.

– – – – –

Thanks to Suresh for his list of apps, there’s a good mix here with a lot of family themed time too.

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, mobileiron, Suresh Batchu,..."
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 07:30

I’m delighted to have received an in-depth Top 7 Apps submission from Jide Sobo, Head of Mobile at leading Media Agency MEC. Here’s a quick overview of MEC:

We’re a top 5 media planning and buying agency that’s genuinely excited about today’s dynamic media landscape. Today we offer over 65 diversified services beyond our core media planning and buying services: from innovative broadcast sponsorships to social media insight, mobile advertising, SEO and data and analytics.

Our clients expect great delivery, great prices and great plans, but MEC delivers so much more through a team of genuinely inquisitive well motivated people who are dedicated to finding inspiring solutions to deliver exceptional results.

Jide uses the iPhone 5S, so let’s take a look through this list of Top 7 apps…

– – – – –

Dark Sky: Incredibly accurate 1 hour precipitation forecast. As I cycle to work, this is invaluable for timing when I leave, and what I wear.

Score Cloud Express – creates sheet music from any audio, even humming. I’m learning the piano at the moment, and this is a great way of getting snippets of popular songs for me to practice

Hyperlapse – A new favourite! It creates incredible time lapse videos from normal footage shot on the iPhone. Great fun to use, and I’m sure some people will do really incredible things with it.

Sugarsync – A cloud based file back up system, this allows me to automatically back up all of the files on my various laptops, and then be able to access them from my phone. It’s great for those unexpected moments, when you want to show somebody a document that you had no idea that you needed.

Day One – A really simple journaling app that I use to keep a record of all of the mini restaurant reviews that I write

Touchnote – for sending real life postcards home from holidays. Sometimes it’s nice to send a proper postcard, rather than an impersonal Facebook update.

Social apps – a big cheat here, but I’ve got to mention Facebook & Twitter as I spend so much time using them

– – – – –

Thanks to Jide for his list, I’m a big fan of Sugarsync and you can’t help but be on Facebook and Twitter can you?

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah" Tags: "Applications, Jide Sobo, MEC, top 7 apps"
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 21:26

IMG_0009

I made a classic mistake on Friday night when I was sorting out the new iPhones for myself and my wife.

Two iPhone 6 devices arrived on Friday morning and then late into the evening I decided to get them setup.

I backed up my wife’s iPhone 5S and then my own iPhone 5S.

And then I promptly erased my wife’s iPhone 5S, ready for the phone to be recycled.

I fired up her new iPhone 6 and went through the restore process.

Everything was fine during the set-up process until the time came to perform the actual restore. That failed. I tried about 10 times.

The error I got was invariably the same:

Lost Network Connection

Your iPhone could not be restored because you are no longer connected to the Internet.

This, sadly, is blatantly not true, given I’ve got a highly reliable BT Infinity 2 connection here and the rest of my devices are all performing perfectly fine. I tried multiple hotspots. I even used my MacBook to masquerade as a private hotspot. Nada. Now and again I’d see a message on the phone saying “Two hours remaining” or “40 minutes remaining”, indicating the restore was working…

And then the same error message would appear again.

Eventually my wife went to bed. Without her phone. And that’s saying something. It’s almost unnatural to go to bed nowadays without your phone ‘working’.

I eventually decided to setup her iPhone 6 as a new device.

Which was a total flipping arse for her. And then for me, when my iPhone 6 wouldn’t restore my backups — it was suffering from exactly the same symptoms.

I reasoned that the error must be due to the sheer number of people hammering Apple’s iCloud servers on Friday. I used the same reason to explain the continual error messages across the weekend. Backup works fine. Restore seems to be flawed.

And now I’ve got a problem: Worry. I’m not accustomed to Apple stuff not working.

My worry is that when I lose my iPhone, the restore still won’t work.

What is the flipping point of paying for a 200gb iCloud account when the flipping thing doesn’t work?

I’ve been wondering whether to contact Apple and try and get some support. But I am not holding out much hope. I don’t know if I can be bothered.

It’s been seriously inconvenient to lose all the basic settings I thought I’d be able to restore in a few minutes automatically.

Have you come across a similar situation? Did your iPhone restore process work without a hitch? Any suggestions?

Both iPhone 6s are setup and working now — it did take me most of Saturday night to get my new 6 back into operational mode with all the various passwords and services setup again. So I don’t have an immediate need to restore — but I do want to know that when I need it, it will actually work!

Rather disappointing. If you’ve any suggestions, I’m keen to hear them!

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Devices, News, backup, error, icloud, iP..."
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 14:44

shutterstock_75943606

Mobile TV and video were once considered “killer apps” that would entice subscribers to use more data, helping the networks increase ARPU and hold onto customers in an increasingly cutthroat market.

Video was perhaps thought of as a panacea that would prevent operators becoming merely bit-pipes; but in reality, this is the situation they face today.

A decade ago during the early days of 3G, live TV and video was touted as a differentiator that simply wasn’t possible on 2G, and the operators even created in-house solutions to stream live video. Unfortunately, the user experience tended to be poor due to limited bandwidth, underpowered devices and badly implemented user interfaces.

And unlike today’s scenario where most online video is simply consumed via the Internet, back then every operator was scrambling to offer an in-house portal stuffed full of video downloads and live TV channels. It was certainly ambitious, but failed to catch on initially.

But with today’s high-speed 4G networks and big screen smartphones, has mobile TV and video lived up to the hype?

We take a brief look at some recent statistics with a special focus on emerging markets.

Demand for Mobile Video

Mobile video includes popular websites such as YouTube, Hulu and BBC iPlayer, as well as dedicated subscription-based apps such as Amazon Prime and Netflix. Spurred on by the rise of more powerful smartphones and tablets, mobile video consumption worldwide is growing phenomenally.

According to Cisco’s 5-year forecast, mobile data traffic grew 81% in 2013 of which 53% was video, and is predicted to rise to over two-thirds of all mobile data traffic by 2018.

Global Mobile Data by Application

Video constitutes a significant percentage of mobile data traffic

 

And it’s mainly Emerging Markets that are helping to fuel this rise in video usage. In many cases, mobile is leapfrogging fixed line technologies entirely, with Internet use nearly on a par with fixed line. For example, Africa and the Middle East have a comparatively low Internet penetration at 21.3% and 44.9% respectively, but are embracing mobile for reasons of convenience and ease of deployment.

It is no surprise then that mobile video is becoming increasingly popular as access to the Internet, network speeds and smartphone penetration rises. These factors are driving the uptake of data services in general and making it easier for consumers to access Video On Demand, live TV and music streaming.

Annual Mobile Data Growth by Region

Emerging markets have more room for growth in mobile data

 

What is Driving Video Usage?

As 4G networks are deployed, mobile network speeds are increasing. Globally, the average mobile downlink speed in 2013 was 1,387 kbps, up from 526 kbps in 2012.

In the Middle East and Africa, the average downlink mobile network speed is predicted to rise from 529 kbps in 2013 to around 900 kbps in 2018. Good quality video eats up bandwidth, and with nearly 1 Mbps it’s finally becoming possible to stream higher resolution content that looks good on the small screen.

Studies have shown that subscribers on 3G networks in Nigeria tend to consume more music and video downloads than those on 2G (17% versus 10%). In other words, faster networks enable users to download video content more quickly, and receive higher quality and more reliable streams.

Of course, better quality video is what it’s all about for consumers, many of whom still prefer to use a tablet at home on WiFi rather than watch TV on a smartphone.

Smartphone Users Consume More Video

According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, the average smartphone generates as much data traffic as 49 basic feature phones, and a tablet device the equivalent to 127 feature phones. But despite the relatively low penetration of smartphones in emerging markets (31% in Argentina and 26% in Brazil) compared with mature markets (UK, USA and the UAE each have much more than 50% smartphone adoption), the latest smartphones with high-definition playback have helped encourage higher data usage for mobile video.

Smartphone Penetration

Smartphone penetration is relatively low in emerging markets. Despite this, mobile video and TV is a popular service

 

In fact in 2013, 79% of smartphone users in Brazil watched video clips of some kind, 28% of these at least once per day. This compares favourably to the UK where only 53% watch any kind of mobile video clips. In Thailand, the figure is even higher with 53% of users watching mobile video on a daily basis.

Mobile video views in emerging markets tends to be higher than mature ones

Mobile video views in emerging markets tends to be higher than mature ones

 

The Importance of Content and Quality of Experience

Most people are receptive to the idea of mobile TV and video, but only if the right price plan and content can be delivered; users are very sensitive to the overall quality of experience and picture quality, which need to be managed carefully to avoid dissatisfaction. And after all, nobody wants to pay for poor quality video, and nobody wants to pay per MB to watch a 2-hour movie!

Content providers must also cater to local tastes. In the UK, this might be a service offering the latest Hollywood films as an all-you-can-eat subscription service on every device (TV, tablet and mobile), but in India for example, the latest Bollywood movies would be a more attractive service.

Technical Challenges For Mobile Video

Many of the challenges in delivering great quality mobile video in mature markets also applies to emerging markets. But the technical issues may be more severe due to various environmental, geographical and technological factors. Because network speeds can vary so dramatically, video optimisation techniques such as bit-rate adaptation and media transcoding can be used to adapt the content on the fly to match the network speed. This helps to minimise disconnections and pauses during playback, and can determine the correct video bit-rate (in other words, the quality) to stream based on the network conditions.

Video optimisation then is essential to limit the amount of data traffic whilst balancing the overall user experience.

More powerful smartphones

Mobile device capabilities play a huge role in the end user experience i.e. a combination of multimedia playback formats, streaming delivery protocols, screen resolution, and features such as automatic bookmarking, bit-rate adaptation, quality of experience monitoring, and the level of interactivity that can be offered.

Due to the low levels of smartphone adoption in Emerging Markets, the baseline mobile video experience is often quite poor. Most feature phones support only basic video streaming using the older MPEG-4 or H.263 formats. In contrast, many of today’s top-tier smartphones can play full HD resolution video in H.264 format, which provides superior picture quality, bandwidth efficiency and error resilience.

So, is Mobile Video still a Killer App?

There is no doubt that mobile TV is becoming increasingly popular, whether it’s for on-demand content (downloaded and viewed) or live TV. We have reached a point where smartphones can easily handle full HD video, and streaming over the Internet and 4G mobile networks can be achieved at an acceptably high quality.

In future, the most successful mobile video and TV services will be those that enable you to watch on every device, wherever you are and at a low fixed price that doesn’t increase with data usage. And it’s up to the mobile operators to provide high-speed and reliable networks that allow us to use our favourite video services unhindered by data plans and bandwidth throttling.

Mobile TV and video is finally coming of age, but there is still a long way to go…

Author: "Roland B" Tags: "News, Opinion, Mobile TV, mpeg, Operator..."
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 07:58

Visitor_registration_on_the_iPad_·_Envoy

 

I really don’t have any time for the standard rubbish registration systems at receptions.

I recognise the importance and the need for such a process. I’d just like it to be as elegant as possible.

Enter Envoy. I really like the look of this. Check the service out at signwithenvoy.com.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Devices, Services, App, envoy, reception..."
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Date: Friday, 19 Sep 2014 07:22

We are back with another Top 7 Apps submission and this time it is from Adam Chapman, Director of Marketing at ReadSoft. Here’s a quick overview about the company:

ReadSoft is a leading global provider of software solutions for document process automation  in the cloud or on premise. ReadSoft is by far the world’s number one choice for invoice processing automation, especially into business systems. ReadSoft’s software enables companies to automate document processes such as accounts payable processing, and mailroom automation. Since the start in 1991, ReadSoft has grown to a worldwide group with operations in 17 countries on six continents and a network of local and global partners.

Adam uses the Samsung Galaxy S3 (rooted and using the Cyanogenmod). Let’s take a look through his Top 7 apps list…

– – – – –

LinkedInMaybe an obvious choice, but the app is great for on the move networking.

Google KeepGreat for taking notes whenever and wherever inspiration strikes you!

TripAdvisorFor when you need a half-decent (and still within budget) hotel or a good restaurant for clients.

National Rail (or RealtimeTrains website): Because we all have to travel by train sooner or later and at least this way I can see how late I’m likely to be!

TubeAssistantWhen you’re in London, knowing where to go and even being shown the best carriage and doors to be closest to for the exit minimises the trauma of being on the tube.

WorldMateThe simplicity of being able to just send flight booking emails to a central email address and seeing all the details, along with times, gate changes and alerts appear in real time on my phone is awesome – reduces airport hassles no end and keeps together hotel and taxi bookings the other end.

Business Calendar ProThe only calendar app worth using!  Very useful homescreen widgets to see the day’s agenda at a glance.

– – – – –

Thanks to Adam for his list of apps. Hadn’t heard of Tube Assistant so that’s being added to my apps!

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah P" Tags: "Applications, Adam Chapman, Readsoft, to..."
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 23:45

I came across this rather interesting release from the team at ParcelHero detailing one of those critical issues that we don’t tend to consider much at all, especially when we’re busy obsessing over the precise arrival of our gorgeous new device.

If you think about the average delivery guy making, let’s say, 50 deliveries a day on a normal busy day, I wonder how they manage an additional n deliveries that day? There’s obviously a bit of notice that this ‘launch’ day is coming.

And how many naughty couriers will be doing that severely irritating ‘ghost delivery’ thing? You know when you discover a ‘missed you’ card by the door, yet no one rung the doorbell or knocked on the door? I’m convinced some couriers literally can’t be bothered and sprint toward my letter box, slip in the card quietly and then run really fast before I can stop to catch them.

Anyway. Conspiracy theories aside, have a read what the team from ParcelHero have to say… and remember this post when you’re effing and blinding about not getting your iPhone in your hand tomorrow at 8am:

Prepare for The iPhone 6 Effect on September 19, warns ParcelHero

What will happen to parcel deliveries on September 19 – as the launch of the new iPhone 6 creates thousands of extras deliveries – and how many customers will receive their new phones on launch day?

With iPhone 6 mania reaching a peak, international courier ParcelHero says retailers and parcel delivery companies are bracing themselves for a the iPhone 6 Effect, as customers clamour to receive their new phones on launch day.

ParcelHero’s David Jinks MILT says: ‘As we learned from the launch of the iPhone 5 back in September 2012, and various incarnations of the iPad, new Apple product launches create intense activity in the parcel delivery industry.’

David adds: ‘Let’s not forget that, as well as the devices being shipped through carefully planned channels by Apple, Carphone Warehouse, John Lewis etc, the online shopping platform eBay currently lists over 66,000 results for iPhone 6, many promising launch day delivery. That’s a lot of private individuals also looking to sell (or sell-on!) their new iPhones as well.’

Customers who have already ordered their new phone – particularly the larger screen iPhone 6 Plus – could well experience delays receiving their phones at home as Apple struggles to supply enough phones into the UK. And if you are looking to order online now, Apple and all major suppliers have announced that the new iPhone 6 Plus is a complete sell out – there’s currently at least a three to four week delay. For the standard iPhone 6, there’s also already a 7-10 working days delivery window.

Both iPhone 6 versions will also be available in stores from 8am of course, but with one eBay trader selling his Apple store launch day reservation for over £250 (that’s not including the cost of the phone itself!), optimistic shoppers are facing a long queue.

David cautions: ‘Because ParcelHero only partners with leading delivery companies such as DHL and UPS, who have been working for some time with their retail customer to ensure they meet demand, ParcelHero deliveries on unlikely to be impacted by the iPhone 6 Effect. That’s not the case for every parcel courier company or delivery company however. If you want to send a parcel around the 19th you are best to choose a quality courier or carrier.’

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Opinion, courier, delivery, iphone 6, la..."
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 23:22

I’m delighted to have received an in-depth Top 7 Apps submission from Paul Prendergast, CEO at Inhance Technology. Here’s a quick overview from their website:

Inhance Technology builds white label mobile security and service programmes for leading companies working in wireless retail, insurance and warranty, consumer electronics, trade-In, and affinity. Founded in Ireland in 2005, with sales and marketing hubs in the UK, the USA and China, it helps businesses become more profitable by ensuring their customers’ devices and content are secure, optimised for use, and when the time comes, ready for trade-in.

Paul uses the Samsung Galaxy S5 so let’s take a look through his Top 7 apps list…

– – – – –

Yelp: When looking for a good pub or restaurant at the last minute in a new city, I like to use Yelp. Personally I find a lot of online review apps and websites need to be taken with a grain of salt these days. However for the most part I like to think Yelp is a reliable source of information. Like most people, I’m usually swayed by the number of positive reviews an establishment gets. Of course when it comes to it, it usually comes down to my own gut instinct.

Quip: Quip combines documents and messages into a single thread of updates. It’s useful when I’m on the move, because it allows me to make edits to the same version of a document that my team are working. I really like the collaborative nature of Quip and the simplicity of its design – it makes a big difference when you’re working with people in different countries and timezones. On the whole, I think it helps our global team work more efficiently.

Spotify: Instant access to countless different artists is the obvious draw for me. If I’m honest, I haven’t bought any music since I signed up over a year ago. I think the big selling point for Spotify is the offline music feature, which doesn’t eat up all of my data. However, I also like the intuitive way it helps me discover new music based on my current interests. I think it’s going to be interesting to see what the market throws up in the way of competition in the future.

Todoist: Todoist is a simple ‘To Do’ app that gives a high level overview of my tasks for the day ahead. What I like about Todist is that it gives me the information I want straight away, and then gets out of the way. Often I think a lot of these apps can focus too heavily on the UI or can be too constraining in how they want the user to use their product. I also use Google reminders throughout the day.

Feedly: Feedly is my own personal news feed. I like don’t like wasting time jumping from one webite to another to find the news I want. This RSS aggregator allows me to read all of my favourite business, tech and food articles, all in one place. Again it has a simple but clever design. I read the news I want before getting on with the day ahead.

Google Maps: I’m old enough to remember using oversized city maps (actually I’m still happy to use them from time to time). However Google Maps really makes travelling so much easier. I’ve debated with friends on the merits and drawbacks of using it on holiday – does it really take the fun out of exploring a new city? I say no … Get off the plane. Type in your hotel destination. Tap the quickest route to get there. Drop those heavy bags. Then let the real exploring happen.

Inhance Mobile: I’m probabaly biased here but I do I love the way this keeps my device and the content on it safe. It’s a white label app used by companies including Virgin Mobile, The Carphone Warehouse, Dixons, and Best Buy in the States. I think our add-on features such as CTX (quickly transfers mobile content between devices) and Inhance Trade-In (quickly determines an accurate valuation for used devices) helps Inhance Mobile stand out from the crowd.

– – – – –

Thanks to Paul for his list and I have to agree about Spotify, interesting to see what competition it faces in the years ahead.

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah P" Tags: "Applications, Inhance Technology, Paul P..."
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Date: Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 07:15

Enterprise Mobility Main Pic

Since the advent of B.Y.O.D (Bring Your Own Device) schemes and the success of the iPhone as both a consumer and business device, Apple has recognised the need to strengthen its portfolio of enterprise-friendly device management tools, productivity applications and not least its IT support.

The iPhone and iPad have propelled Apple to widespread adoption in corporate markets such as Education, Healthcare and Government. But needless to say, satisfying the needs and desires of users (who want freedom of choice, simplicity and a familiar user experience) and IT administrators (robust security, ease of configuration and the ability to manage devices remotely) can be a delicate balance.

Since the demise of Blackberry, IT departments have had little choice but to accept the iPhone in the workplace, leading to concerns about managing employees’ iOS devices that need to be addressed. It seems that Apple is slowly becoming more open and enterprise-friendly with greater transparency and a focus on creating productivity tools (the iWork suite), and by adding more flexible security features in iOS 8.

Big Blue and Apple Global Partnership

Back in July, IBM and Apple announced a high profile partnership focused around Enterprise Mobility. In a collaboration that should promote competition in the enterprise market, the deal draws on the strengths of each – IBM’s “big data” analytics and track record in corporate IT solutions, coupled with Apple’s expertise in customer experience, development platforms and of course its unmatched app ecosystem.

IBM will no doubt leverage its existing products and services such as MaaS360 – a cloud-based mobile device management (MDM), application management and expense management offering.

For the first time ever we’re putting IBM’s renowned big data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple. This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver – Tim Cook, Apple CEO.

Marketed as IBM MobileFirst for iOS, the partnership offers:

  • Creation of 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions such as native “made for business” apps
  • Integration with IBM’s cloud-based services
  • New packaged offerings for device activation, supply and management (Mobile Device Management)
  • AppleCare for Enterprise on-site support and device procurement services

But what does this mean in practice?

In short, IBM will help to fill in the missing pieces in Apple’s portfolio and provide a more rounded, comprehensive level of round-the-clock support. Examples include managed applications and extensions that can be automatically configured during or after installation (e.g. to handle new mail or WiFi settings) in addition to secure document sharing. In this case, employee policy and benefits documents could be pushed into iBooks, and selected apps could be restricted from synchronising data and documents with Apple’s own iCloud.

Apple’s strategy of partnering with IBM will no doubt benefit both firms and may help iOS retain its footprint in the enterprise. But in the face of stiff competition, especially from Google’s Android, they may face an uphill battle…

Enterprise Mobility – the Winners and Losers

According to Apple, 98% of Fortune 500 companies and 92% of Global 500 firms use iOS in their businesses every day. While it’s hard to dispute such claims, it’s clear that Android has started to invade the Enterprise market and is already catching up.

According to Good Technology’s Mobility Index report issued in August, iOS use in the Enterprise fell by 5% to 67% of total device activations with Android rising by 5% to 32% of total activations. Windows Phone remained flat with an unremarkable 1%.

iOS still leads in the enterprise space, but Android is rapidly catching up

iOS still leads in the enterprise space, but Android is rapidly catching up

 

Can Google and Microsoft Challenge Apple in the Enterprise?

Google

Android is steadily gaining enterprise share, partly due to better built-in security (Samsung is allegedly contributing elements of its cloud-based Knox security product to Android L) that is helping combat concerns about rampant malware on the platform. Google also acquired New York firm Divide earlier this year – a BYOD device management provider that Google could use to raise awareness of its improving security image.

Unfortunately, some companies’ IT admins are still reluctant to support Android; those that do tend to choose a limited selection of devices rather than opening the field to every manufacturer and version of the operating system. By focusing on just a few select models, it’s far easier to control configuration and deployment of applications, access to corporate networks, and to white or black-list apps.

Google now needs to maintain the momentum, possibly by expanding its office products and enterprise mobile apps, but it could also partner with a professional services provider such as HP or Dell.

Microsoft

Microsoft has been entrenched in the desktop enterprise space for years, but since it acquired Nokia Devices has shifted to a more cloud and mobile-centric strategy. The advantage Microsoft has is its deep understanding of the complex needs of IT departments, but it needs to capitalise on that experience to augment its Windows Phone position.

Our job is to ensure Microsoft will thrive in a mobile and cloud-first world – Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

Back in March of this year, Microsoft announced its Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) which, amongst other benefits, helps IT admins deploy configuration policies, email and Office 365 accounts, install security certificates and update network profiles. Windows Phone 8.1 even includes a built in device management client; this allows Windows Phone to integrate with existing management solutions such as the Azure Active Directory and a single sign-on to make it easier for employees to access company applications and documents.

And in a nod to the popularity of iOS, Microsoft capitalised on the popularity of Office by releasing a freemium version for the iPhone and iPad, tying users into those products and ensuring that, even if Windows Phone still has some way to go, Microsoft can still benefit from Apple’s rise in the enterprise.

While Windows Phone is considered strong in terms of enterprise applications, security and management capabilities, now all Microsoft needs to do is to sell more smartphones…

Author: "Roland B" Tags: "Applications, Devices, Opinion, android,..."
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 20:30

You have to laugh. If you don’t, the only alternative is tears of utter despair.

Have a read…

It is understood that EE, O2 and Vodafone have been unable to agree on how Weve’s standard mobile wallet should operate since it was announced six months ago, however. They have now effectively scrapped the joint project, which was slated for launch early next year, in favour of individual apps.

via Mobile operators abandon joint ‘wave and pay’ project as Apple looms – The Telegraph.

They couldn’t agree?

Who the fck was negotiating that one, then? Top marks for market awareness, eh? You couldn’t be bothered to agree? Well then. Move along please.

I know a few people connected to the project but I haven’t dared ask them how it’s going. I’ve no doubt the Weve folk were doing their best herding cats, but you have to wonder about the representatives of the operators.

Those must have been some fun meetings.

And the meetings that led up to today’s announcement? Comical. Absolutely comical.

Here’s another choice quote from The Telegraph:

A source at one mobile operator said Apple’s move meant it would have to write off gaining a share of payments from iPhone users, who represent about a third of the UK smartphone market.

Yeah. Welcome back to Planet Earth, Mr Operator. You are a dumb, dumb, dumb data pipe. And it’s about time you actually, finally, recognised it.

You know what? You’d make a lot more money if you didn’t blow it all on bollocks activities.

The market’s made the decision. Mobile operators are wholly irrelevant beyond the commodity service they provide (often, very poorly).

In days gone by, the operator was King Maker. They controlled the handset and the first screen you saw.

Those were the days.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Operators, mobile payments, weve"
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 09:18

Today we have another Top 7 Apps submission and this one is from Naresh Chouhan, Director of Marketing at Truphone. Here’s a quick overview from their website:

Truphone is the world’s first mobile network without country borders. The company’s mission is simple: deliver an outstanding international mobile experience to businesses around the world. That means excellent call quality, fast data speeds, reliable connections, predictable costs, and unparalleled customer service at home and abroad.

Naresh uses a Google Nexus 5, and also an iPad mini. Let’s take a look through his Top 7 apps…

– – – – –

Email: A necessary evil but life just wouldn’t be complete without a massively overflowing inbox.

Train Times: As a daily commuter into London, and a control freak, I don’t like to leave it any part-nationalised organisation to govern my travelling schedule and decide when I can finally get home. This app is a daily essential!

Spotify: I am passionate about music and particularly new British artists. I waste far too many hours pressing the ‘Discover’ button on the Spotify app….

WeightWatchers: Being a real foodie – and I do mean a real foodie — I have to keep an eye on what I eat. It’s taken me years to develop my one-pack and I like to keep on top of it.

Strava: I’ve taken up cycling (it’s the new golf after all!). I like the social and challenge-based aspects of this app, which allows me to see how well friends and family are doing. It also gives me a sense of achievement in my training.

WindGuru: Being a keen kitesurfer I always keep one eye on the ever-changing weather conditions in the UK, and when I get a spare minute I can dream about how to get out on the water at the weekend.

Diary: I have zero control over what gets put into my diary these days but I have to be a complete slave to it. I also have no concept of organising things in the future, so my thankfully wife makes sure that all important social events — family and friends’ birthdays etc. — are in my diary so that I have absolutely no excuse!

– – – – –

Thanks to Naresh for his list of apps. The Train Times app has helped me so many times when I’m travelling, so much quicker than waiting at those boards at stations!

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah P" Tags: "Applications, Naresh Chouhan, top 7 apps..."
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Date: Sunday, 14 Sep 2014 22:37

The FT is reporting that it’s more or less game over for Phones 4U:

Phones 4U, the British retailer founded by entrepreneur John Caudwell that has spent most of last decade in private equity hands, has gone into administration.

The company, which is owned by London buyout house BC Partners and employs 5,596 people, said on Sunday that it had been forced to seek protection from its creditors after two of the UK’s largest mobile phone operators decided to withdraw their products from its stores next year.

via Phones 4U goes into administration – FT.com.

Irrespective of whether you agreed with the company’s new owners taking a whopping special dividend last year, the writing was on the wall for Phones 4U.

It was on the wall ever since the founder sold up.

With the mobile operators focusing heavily on their sales and marketing efforts in a hugely competitive, saturated business, that last thing they need is for Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U to exist.

Fundamentally, if you walk into any of these stores, they’ll do their level best to churn you from your existing network.

Because that’s where the revenue is.

I recognise that’s a semi-unfair statement, because these companies do (or did, in the Phones 4U case) play a part in helping consumers check out the rest of the market.

However this is absolutely not in the interests of any mobile network. And when it comes to having to fork out huge commission fees to Phones 4U and Carphone… well, yes… the writing has been on the wall.

Phones 4U heading into administration doesn’t mean it’s all over. Yet. There are lots of possibilities.

However I wonder how things are going to pan out for Carphone Warehouse?

Interesting times.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Operators, carphone warehouse, Phones4U"
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 23:51

I’m delighted to present an in-depth Top 7 Apps submission from James Parton, Director of Twilio Europe. I’ve long been a big fan of Twilio (I have had a lot of fun programming various apps using their API) — and I’ve long been a fan of James himself, having followed his telecoms career for some time now.

First, here’s a quick overview of Twilio to make sure you’re up to date:

Twilio is a software and cloud-based communications platform that enables developers and businesses to rapidly build and deploy communication solutions that meet their specific needs. Whether integrating voice, messaging and/or VoIP capabilities into a web or mobile app or building a complete system like a call center, Twilio removes the traditional obstacles to creating effective communications experiences. Twilio customers include fast-growing start ups such as Hailo, Box, and Airbnb as well as enterprises such as Coca-Cola, The Home Depot and Wal-Mart.

James uses the iPhone 5 so let’s get cracking through his Top 7 apps…

– – – – –

Spotify: Yes, yes I know its a pretty mainstream way to kick things off, but I’m a music addict and have tried every digital music service out there. Spotify continues to work best for me. I’ve also been going to more gigs than ever recently so I’m hopeful the music industry will find business models that work for all parties.

Timehop: I’m a sucker for nostalgia, and having been a long time social media user I have years of self generated content to re-discover. Everyday it sends you the highlights from your own Twitter, FourSquare and Facebook updates for today from the past 6 years, so everyday you get to reminisce at your own personal “this day in history”.

Feedly: When Google announced it was closing Reader, I like others, was aghast. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I discovered a much better way of consuming my RSS feeds. I know RSS feels very Web 1.0 these days but when you are constantly on the move, it remains the most efficient way for me to stay in touch and Feedly has managed to make RSS visually pleasurable to consume.

Hailo: I’m constantly meeting hopping around London so tend to be a big black cab user. Hailo is a life saver. Not so much for finding a cab as we are blessed in London to have the world’s best taxi service, but more to remove the need to carry cash to pay for rides. Having met the original co-founders, Hailo has always appealed most to me, having been conceived and created by cabbies.

Osper: Osper is a new bank designed for children and it is absolute genius. Both of my kids have Osper pre paid debit cards, and using the Osper mobile app I have real time control of their cards and visibility of their usage. My kids have empowerment, trust, security, and similar transparency.

Evernote: Another big hitter in the app leagues, but my life is non stop meetings and ideas so everything gets dumped into Evernote and perfectly sync’d between all my devices. Not the prettiest UI but it gets the job done.

Unroll.me: Technically not a mobile app, but I had to include it to make people aware it exists. If you are plagued by spam and other e-mail that you don’t have time to process (and who isn’t!) you *have* to use Unroll.me immediately. It intelligently scans your inbox and offers you the choice to unsubscribe with one click or roll up emails into daily or weekly digests. Life saver.

– – – – –

Thanks to James for his list, I think unroll.me is a great addition as we can all find those inboxes a bit daunting at times. I also have to say, Osper looks simply brilliant. I am seriously considering getting one for my 4 year old. Although the website does say ‘8+’.

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah P" Tags: "Applications, james parton, top 7 apps, ..."
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Date: Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 12:06
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

 

Apple held its highly anticipated iPhone event yesterday at the Flint Centre near San Francisco, finally unveiling new large-screened iPhones and, perhaps more importantly, a wearable called the Apple Watch.

Expectations were high, as Apple has been under intense pressure to deliver imaginative new products and prove that is hasn’t lost its ability to innovate in the post-Jobs era. Did they succeed?

On the day, there were perhaps no real surprises due to the amount of recent leaks, but it was clear from the moment that CEO Tim Cook dispensed with the usual sales updates (“…everything is great”) that there would be more than just new iPhones. In that tantalising moment, we knew that something else special would be announced.

It’s easy to succumb to the hype and media frenzy that surrounds Apple’s keynotes, but there were also several smaller things that you may have missed in the commotion.

Before that, let’s take a brief look at some of the key product announcements and new features…

Apple Event Recap

Two New iPhone 6 models – Bigger, Better, Faster

Apple updated the iPhone with two larger-screened models, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.

The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus

The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus

Both models received a complete design overhaul consistent with Apple’s 2-year refresh cycle and sport higher quality ‘Retina HD’ displays with curved bezels. Despite the increased pixel count (one million and two million pixels respectively) the iPhone 6 retains its 302 pixels-per-inch while the iPhone 6 Plus improves on that greatly at 402 PPI. This doesn’t quite beat some of the other smartphones available today such as LG’s Quad-HD G3 (538 PPI), but the bigger screens should satisfy demand for increasingly large devices.

Apple has always maintained that one-handed use of a smartphone is critical to its usability, refusing to make compromises unless the technical challenges could be overcome. This has led to several design tweaks to the iPhone 6, such as moving the power button to the right side and improvements to iOS (more on that below) to make more effective use of the screen space and easier one-handed operation.

Apple is often criticised for adding incremental rather than revolutionary new features and capabilities to its products. The hardware improvements to this year’s iPhone 6 can also be considered more of an evolution, but Apple has improved most aspects sufficiently that the end result is, as Tim Cook boasted, the best iPhone yet.

Here’s a brief technical summary of the main hardware updates to the iPhone 6:

  • Display: 4.7 inch (1,334 x 750 at 326 PPI) and 5.5 inch (1,920 x 1,080 HD at 401 PPI) versions with better colour reproduction and contrast
  • CPU: a faster, more power efficient ‘A8′ 64-bit CPU (and new M8 motion co-processor) that delivers 25% performance increase and 50% in terms of graphics.
  • Battery: higher-capacity batteries that give 10 days standby for the iPhone 6 and 16 days for the iPhone 6 Plus
  • Camera: an improved 8-megapixel rear camera with f/2.2 aperture, 1.5-micron pixels, with 1080p video recording at 60 fps and 720p slow-mo at 240 fps. The iPhone 6 Plus is differentiated by inclusion of optical image stabilisation
  • Sensors: a new barometer measures air pressure, likely to be used in navigation and fitness apps
  • Connectivity: NFC contact less, LTE up to 150 Mbps, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) support, and faster 802.11ac WiFi

Mobile Wallet (Apple Pay) – Wireless Payments via NFC

Apple Pay simplifies the checkout and payment process, uses TouchID and NFC to wirelessly pay for goods

Apple Pay simplifies the checkout and payment process, uses TouchID and NFC to wirelessly pay for goods

More significant than the actual iPhone 6 hardware itself, was news that Apple plans to enter the mobile payment space enabling customers to use their iPhones as a convenient and secure digital wallet.

With major credit card issuers like Amex, MasterCard and Visa already onboard (plus dozens of retail outlets and the 6 largest US banks), Apple plans to revolutionise the way we checkout and pay for all kinds of goods and services.

Rival e-wallet payment schemes such as Google Wallet have failed to gain widespread adoption, partially because of issues with trust and security, but also due to the practicalities of deploying such a large-scale system that is effectively invisible to users – after all, consumers want convenience (one touch payment) and the confidence that their credit card information will not be compromised.

“Our vision is to replace the wallet” – Tim Cook, Apple CEO

“A truly mobile wallet has long been described as imminent. But it remains elusive…most have been a disappointment or have not worked well enough for mainstream adoption” – New York Times

Apple Pay uses both the existing TouchID fingerprint sensor for authorisation coupled with the iPhone 6’s new NFC wireless chip. With recent attention surrounding Apple’s recent iCloud breaches, security is obviously a key focus – Apple aims to solve some of these issues by securely using ‘tokens’ (rather than the actual credit card numbers) stored in the iPhone’s Secure Element. Merchants never get to see your card, PIN, security code or even your name and address.

The iPhone 6 will undoubtedly sell in the millions, giving Apple the critical of mass users (at least in the US where the service will roll out initially in October) that might just help Apple Pay become the de facto payment method for digital storefronts and in retail. And with Apple’s unique focus on the user experience, it looks like the wallet could soon be replaced by your smartphone.

Apple Watch

About an hour into the presentation, Tim Cook delighted the audience by using the legendary “one more thing” line that Steve Jobs popularised. This was the setup line he used to introduce the world to the Apple Watch, and an announcement that even overshadowed the iPhone 6.

Apple’s intention is to make the best smart watch in the world – an incredibly precise, stylish and functional device that is a more intimate way to connect and communicate with friends, that works seamlessly with the iPhone, and that acts as a comprehensive health and fitness device.

The Apple Watch is intended to be a uniquely personal and customisable device

The Apple Watch is a uniquely personal and customisable device

 

Apple’s philosophy is that as a personal device that is worn all day and every day, a watch should not simply shrink down and replicate the typical smartphone experience (after all, interacting with a tiny touchscreen is inherently cumbersome). To overcome such issues, a ‘digital crown’ – a kind of miniature scrolling click-wheel – is used to zoom into and scroll through content such as messages and photos. It seems clear that as a companion to an iPhone, a watch that can receive notifications, update your Facebook status, provide directions and enable the wearer monitor and track their health and fitness, could become an incredibly useful and perhaps indispensable product.

Apple understands that a watch is also a fashion statement and lifestyle accessory. With just about every mobile manufacturer and tech company seeking to enter the nascent wearable market, Apple is determined to put its own unique spin on the smart watch.

Available from early 2015, the technical details were thing on the ground. Unfortunately there was no mention of screen resolution, memory capacity, or most importantly battery life. But the early showcase looked very promising – the health monitoring and fitness aspects combined with the attractive interface and high quality materials (we finally discovered where all the sapphire screens were to be used) should mean that consumers are willing to pay a premium for what is being perceived as a luxury product.

Will the Apple Watch prove more successful than the likes of Samsung’s Gear and the Moto 360 smart watches? Only time will tell…

Things You Might Have Missed at the iPhone Event

1. One-Handed and Landscape Mode

The iPhone 6 Plus is large. Without changing the interface to accommodate using such a large screen with one hand, Apple would have been in danger of violating their principle of one-handed use – the reason that was often given why the iPhone display never increased beyond 4 inches. A new landscape mode for the home screen and a new dual column layout for apps such as Mail aims to present information more effectively, in a similar manner to the iPad.

There is also a one-handed mode that temporarily pulls the entire display down, supposedly making it easier to reach the more inaccessible parts of the screen.

2. iCloud Pricing Slashed

Since the high profile attack and leak of celebrity pictures stored in iCloud, it’s no surprise that Apple focused on the security aspects of its new payment system. Notably absent however was any mention of iCloud security, although a more competitive pricing structure was announced quietly on Tuesday that aims to encourage greater adoption for sharing files, storing photos, and backups.

While not covered in any great detail at the event, iCloud nevertheless plays an important part in tying users into Apple’s ecosystem. Storage plans are now offered at 5 GB for free, 20 GB for £0.79 per month, 200 GB for £6.99 and 1 TB for £14.99. Unfortunately, iCloud is still more expensive than Google and Dropbox.

3. VoLTE and WiFi Calling

VoLTE is a relatively new packet-based network technology for voice that operators are looking to implement in the near future. By including this feature, Apple is future-proofing the iPhone and investing in the next generation of mobile networking. As a further enhancement, iPhone owners will be able to place a call over a WiFi network and seamlessly handover to a VoLTE call.

As VoLTE slowly becomes more widespread, consumers (and operators) will benefit from more flexible and powerful ways to make voice calls. The feature is initially available only on EE (in the UK), and Verizon and T-Mobile in the US.

4. More LTE Bands Than Any Other Smartphone

Apple states that both iPhone 6’s support more LTE (long term evolution) network bands than any other smart phone. Up to 20 bands are supported (7 more than the iPhone 5s), which means the iPhone will work with high-speed networks around the world than ever before. It also enables Apple to consolidate the RF chipsets and reduce the number of versions that are required to work on various operators that use different radio frequencies.

5. iPod Classic Killed Off

Nobody noticed that after the keynote, Apple’s website update silently killed off the iPod Classic. Once a mainstay of Apple’s business and credited with helping turn their fortunes around, the click-wheel version’s time was up once touch screens became the norm.

Music still plays a huge part in Apple’s DNA however, as evidenced by the appearance (and slightly awkward conversation with Tim Cook) of U2 whose new album was given away for free to all iTunes account holders.

Unfortunately, there was no word either on a refresh to the Mac Mini or Apple TV. Perhaps the television will be the ‘one more thing’ next year…

Author: "Roland B" Tags: "News, Apple, iPhone, Opinion"
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 22:29

I’m delighted to have received a great Top 7 Apps submission from Elly Woolston, Chief Client Officer at Indicia. Here’s a quick overview from their website:

Indicia is a leading customer engagement agency. We develop and deliver marketing communications that bring a brand and individual closer through engendering involvement, interaction, purchase and advocacy. We then connect people with brands at an emotional level, through providing a relevant, rewarding and consistent experience across all channels. We embrace the challenge of creating powerful brand-building ideas that drive value from every customer touch point. We are digital, data, direct and social.

Elly uses a iPhone and mini iPad so let’s get on to her Top 7 Apps…

– – – – –

pic0227 - Elly 2

Here she is… Elly Woolston

Spotify: This is my favourite assault of the senses. The opportunity to chill out by accessing my favourite music from my iPad. Using my Jam-plus speaker connected to Bluetooth makes it even better.

Pinterest: As I spend so much time travelling I find switching from writing and reading to choosing visual images that are creatively stimulating very inspiring. My Pinterest boards are my own secret kaleidoscope of ideas and dreams.

Yo Sushi!: As a foodie I like a few restaurant and food apps in my repertoire. The Yo Sushi app is kawaai, fun and informative.

Clean and Green Eating: This is just what is says in the title and has inspiring recipes I can plan for my supper.

Yahoo! weather: As an outdoor girl and from farming country I like to know the weather at home and at my dream locations.

TED: Mind expanding debates by amazing people. Topics that help me question and challenge the status quo.

Hyperlapse: I love it. It is new, fun and reflects how we can allow ourselves to live today unless we take a sense check – speedy and mad!!

– – – – –

Thanks Elly for your contribution and I have seen some great stuff with Hyperlapse already, so it is definitely one for me to investigate more.

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah P" Tags: "Applications, Elly Woolston, Indicia, to..."
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 15:02

Screenshot 2014-09-09 16.00.04

We’ve just under 2 hours before the Apple keynote starts. Will you be watching? The link you need is www.apple.com/live.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "News, Apple, keynote"
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