Skype for WIndows Phone available


Microsoft’s 2011 $8.5 billion purchase of Skype has borne fruit in the guise of the beta “Skype for Windows Phone” app, with the final version expected to arrive in April.

Skype have tested and certified the app on the following devices:

• Nokia Lumia 710
• Nokia Lumia 800
• HTC Titan
• HTC Radar
• Samsung Focus S
• Samsung Focus Flash

From the Skype Blog:

“With Skype for Windows Phone Beta you can make free audio and video calls** to your Skype contacts over 3G and 4G or WiFi***, make affordable calls to landlines and mobiles using Skype Credit, create and hold one-to-one and group chats, and update your profile and account information, among others features.”

One thing to note is that the beta app will have only English language support.

Head over to http://blogs.skype.com/en/2012/02/skype_brings_voice_and_video_c.html to read more and to get the links to download the app…or hit this QR code using Bing Vision Smile

image

Angry Birds on Xbox 360


Angry Birds is awesome.

If you’re not familiar with it, it’s something of a mobile device phenomenon. A game where pigs have stolen eggs from birds (hence their anger) and where retribution is exacted by the sling shotting of birds at the aforementioned pigs! They’re not just regular birds though, some drop bombs, some ARE bombs, some divide into 3 and plenty more super powered feathered adversaries.

image

It, of course, started on the iPhone but recently became available on Android devices and was download 1 Million times in 24 hours!

That’s helped somewhat by the fact that it’s ad-supported on Android – meaning it’s FREE to users.

Anyway, I’m not here simply to talk about the game. I’m here to talk about the fact that it is coming to the consoles; that’s right – Angry Birds will be on:

  • Wii
  • PS3
  • Xbox 360

which is great stuff. I’m especially excited if they make it a Kinect game, as JonThomasDesigns says in the Gizmodo comments says:

They Should make a first person view using Kinect ,, Like you’re pulling the Slingshot .. Once you launch you become the Bird and use movements to do the special move such as splitting in 3 or dropping the egg

That would definitely be a great game Smile

Rovio Mobile also tell us that Angry Birds 2 is under way and:

the pigs will be a lot more active than just being slingshotted at by birds

Looking forward to this…I assume there’s a Windows Phone 7 version coming right?!

Android App: GMote


A free app Android app saved me £59.99 last week!

I’ve got my desktop hooked up to the tv in the living room for the purposes of watching online media such as Lovefilm, 4oD, SKy Player etc and it’s great. One downside though was my lack of wireless keyboard and mouse. “They’re easy to find” you say, and you’re right…but I’m fussy. I didn’t want 2 separate peripherals, oh no, I wanted a wireless keyboard with an inbuilt touchpad; and these it seem are shockingly difficult to find!

It seems, at least to me, like the kind of thing that would be everywhere but that’s not the case. I looked in all the high street stores and a lot of online sellers and came up empty handed. Eventually I found one in PC World/Currys and how much did they want for this Toshiba crafted gem? That’s right – £59.99. In my opinion that is grossly over priced, so I left it on the shelf and continued to rue my lack of combined wireless peripherals.

Then, while looking at something different online, I came across the GMote app for Android…and this thing is AWESOME! Smile

What does it do?

It turns your Android 1.6+ phone into a wireless remote for your pc! Yes it does!

How?

You install Gmote on your mobile device and the Gmote server on the machine/s you wish to control.

Download the desktop server software here:

http://www.gmote.org/

On there, you point it towards your media files (my music etc) and you’re then able to connect to them from your Android device, search through them and play them on your desktop. You can use your mobile to pause, skip, reverse etc just like a regular remote control.

I can tell you’re thinking “that’s pretty good, but does it warrant the capital “awesome” above?”. That’s not all it does, this is the best bit:

It can remotely control your mouse and has keyboard input ability too!

So I can sit on my couch, open up a web browser and navigate to Youtube, maybe 4 on Demand, Lovefilm Online, Wikipedia, whatever…all from my Android device!

It works really well, is very smooth and it FREE!

Anyone who has an Android device and the need to control a machine – get this app NOW!

Android Apps: Great ones I’ve found


I’ve had my HTC Hero for 9 or 10 months now and one of my favourite things is the app market. Recently I’ve come across a few new (at least to me) apps that are pretty awesome, and they are:

Astrid Tasks

This is a great to-do list application to help you keep track of all the many tasks you need to do. The best thing about it though, is it links to and synchronizes with Remember The Milk, which is, in my opinion, the best task tracker/to-do list out there.

BBC Browsecast

This app enables you to listen to BBC Radio LIVE on your Android device as well as access BBC podcasts.

To listen live, you can choose from:

  • Radio 1
  • 1Xtra
  • Radio 2
  • Radio 3
  • Radio 4
  • 5Live
  • Radio 7
  • Asian Network

Podcasts from 37 stations are available including the above as well as:

and a host of other regional stations.

The app works really well and will definitely come in handy when I’m out and about…especially for catching footy!

Goal.Com

I found this app during the world cup and it’s a brilliant football app, with a wealth of news as well as scores. It really is one of my favourite apps and I look at it numerous times a day to keep up to date with what’s happening in the football world. It covers such a wide range of the football world that it’s hard to know where to start!

Across the top, you have the following menu choices:

Breaking | Live Scores | Club News | More

Breaking: This updates as and when new/breaking news hits the football world, be it injuries, transfers, comments etc.

Live Scores: This is a super handy section of the app which does what it says – it gives you live scores. Watching the Utd v Everton game, the Goal.com app updated with a minute or so of the goals happening on Sky…very swift – which is exactly what you need. The best thing is the scores aren’t limited to the Premier League either, you can get live updates for:

  • Champions League
  • Europa League
  • Premier League
  • Ligue 1 (France)
  • Bundesliga (Germany)
  • Primera Division (Spain aka La Liga)
  • MLS (America)
  • Copa Libertadores (South American club competition)

Club News: This section is sub divided into:

  • Manchester Utd
  • Chelsea
  • Liverpool
  • Arsenal

and gives the latest news on happening with those clubs.

More: This section is again broken down into the different country leagues/international cups. For some, such as the Premier League and Ligue 1, it gives news updates concerning all clubs in that league. This is really useful for keeping abreast of what’s happening in across the Premier League…it can be as important to know what the other teams are up to as it is your own…especially when you’re doing fantasy football! Not all league get the news feature but they do all have a league table which is again very useful. Being able to see who’s at the top of La Liga and Serie A is really nice Smile

If you’re a football fan I’d DEFINITELY recommend that you download this app!

IMDB

: Yes, I know this has been around for a while but my HTC Hero was stuck on Android 1.5 until my recent upgrade to 2.1 so I’m a little behind the curve on some things! If you have Android 1.6 or above, get this…having the power of IMDB at your fingertips is awesome…and can help settle disagreements where ever you are Winking smile

Last.FM

: This free app allows you to listen to Last.FM stations on the move. I’ve only used this on Wi-Fi but it worked a treat, great streaming and a nice quick app.

MixZing

: I use this instead of the built in music app and I’m a big fan of it. The main things for me are that it’s easy to create playlists and has a great shuffle function.

Sky+

: This app is brilliant. It lets you set things to record on your sky+ box…from your Android handset! I’ve used this loads of times and it’s really easy to do…simply put in your sky.com login details and bang, start remote recording Smile It’s even got a feature that the sky box doesn’t and it’s very useful, it gives you “alternative screenings” of films so you can easily if it’s on again when it won’t clash with your current schedule.

Vlingo Voice

: I was most disappointed to discover that the HTC build of Android 2.1 doesn’t include voice to text (V2T) capabilities. I have no idea why they decided to remove it but it was a feature I was really looking forward to so I was a little put out. However, I then discovered Vlingo, a free app that gives you brilliant V2T functionality…I was pretty amazed at what can be done with this app.

There are a number of things you can do with it (some U.S only it seems) but the ones that I use are:

Text Message: If you say “Text Geoff what are you doing” It will open up a new message, add in the text and then all you  need to do is click “send”!

Email: This is similar to text messages, just say “Email Geoff what are you doing” and, as long as their email address is listed in their contact card, it’ll pop up ready to send.

Twitter: Again, nice and easy just say “Twitter” followed by your update.

You can also use it to update Facebook and even check in on FourSquare!

These are all great apps that I’ve found over the last few weeks and I hope you find them useful too…if you’ve got any to add, hit up the comments!

ESPN ScoreCenter: Android App


I’ve had an Android phone for about 9 months now and I’ve found all kinds of great apps, but the one thing I’ve been missing is a decent football score app. Well now that I’ve got Android 2.1 on my HTC Hero I’ve finally got one:

ESPN Score Center

This really is a great app. I’ve got the Premier League selected under “My Sports” and when I opened it up this morning, it had all today’s games lined up. As the games were played, the scores were very close to real time – especially great when you’re out and about.

It goes beyond that though. It gives goal scorers and yellow/red cards, as well as a blow by blow account of all the main events in the game (like the BBC sport site); once the game is over, you get a great in-depth review of the game. You also get a visual representation of all the shots in the match and where they were from etc.

You can add a number of sports/events to the app such as Champions League, Serie A, La Liga plus sports like Cricket, Baseball, NFL and more.

It’s been really useful today and I’m sure it will continue to be so. If you’re a sports fan Android user…go get it!

Google App Inventor for Android


Google App Inventor for Android could be one of the coolest things they, or anyone, has brought out.

I’ve got a Google Android phone and I love some of the apps that are available for it. They make things so much easier/quicker/more enjoyable etc and are truly what a smart phone should be full of.

I’ve also got ideas, lot of ideas. Ideas that involve Twitter, Blogs, GPS, football, music, places, t-shirts and more.

What I don’t have is any knowledge of Java, other than an awareness that it exists! I’ve got some rudimentary VB skills and a bit of Javascript so I looked in Java but it appears to need much more time devoting to it than I can give it. That means all my app ideas have been languishing around and I thought they would forever more.

Aber nicht.

Mais Non.

Pero No.

Google’s App Inventor has the power to change all that!

What is it?

A WYSIWYG tool allowing you to create apps without ANY programming knowledge.

How does it work?

It uses “blocks” of pre-written code that cover most actions you could want in an app and lets you drag and drop them together.

image

image

 

When I first saw this I assumed it would be very basic and that all the cool functionality would be missing but that’s not the case:

“There are even blocks to talk to services like Twitter.”

“App Inventor provides access to a GPS-location sensor”

“You can even have the app read the incoming texts aloud to you”

“use App Inventor to write Android apps that talk to your favourite web sites, such as Amazon and Twitter”

These quotes from the Google App Inventor site show that it can be used to create some really cool, funky and innovative apps…and that is exciting!

More Info:

The App Inventor site is:

http://appinventor.googlelabs.com/about/

The sign up form (which requires a Gmail address) is:

https://services.google.com/fb/forms/appinventorinterest/ 

The tutorials are here:

http://appinventor.googlelabs.com/learn/tutorials/index.html

The User Group is here:

http://groups.google.com/group/appinventor

 

I’ve requested access to the beta and am really hoping I get allowed on…this could be really great for me and my phone, others who may want my sure to be awesome apps (joke!), the Android community as a whole and Google in general.

Go sign up!

My move to Android AKA Android vs Windows Mobile


Android is faster, more responsive, more intuitive, looks great and the app marketplace is amazing! I really wanted to get apps for my Windows Mobile 6.1 device but it was SO difficult! Within 14 hours of having my Android phone I’d downloaded multiple awesome applications which we’ll cover later 🙂

One of the biggest problems I found with Windows Mobile is that I felt constrained, there were so many things that I wanted to do but couldn’t…the big one (for me) was an e-book reader. There are so many times that having a book to hand would be great:

  • On the train
  • Waiting in receptions
  • Visiting the in-laws 😉

are just a few of them.

When I got Windows Mobile 6.1, I had a look online and saw there was indeed a Microsoft E-Book reader available. I downloaded it but couldn’t use it as it wasn’t designed for 6.1…bit of a fail! There is a support forum thread dedicated to this where a fix was mentioned about 2 years ago, but as far as I know, it never materialised. So for the 18 months I had that phone, I either had to carry an actual book around or lay off the reading!

The first day I got my Android phone, I downloaded a brilliant app called Aldiko which sorted all that out 🙂 See more below…

Marketplaces

For me, this is a huge revelation…the Android marketplace is amazing 🙂

I know Microsoft brought out the Windows Mobile Marketplace but, let’s be honest, it isn’t very good is it? I often had trouble signing in…sometimes I couldn’t connect from my device and other times it’d be the desktop version that wasn’t working. Once I was in it wasn’t plain sailing either…I found the entire thing clunky and difficult to navigate. Also I was never 100% sure if I was downloading a free app or a trial and I just didn’t feel comfortable as a user.

It’s possible that it’s just a personal thing that I don’t get on with the Windows Marketplace and that it’s a pleasure for everyone else…but I doubt it 😉

On the other side of this fence is the Android Marketplace…

It’s easy to navigate, it’s quick, it’s clear, it’s full of brilliant apps, it’s fantastic:

This brings me nicely onto:

Apps

This was probably the hardest part of being a Windows Mobile user; seeing all the iPhone users with their fancy apps…compasses, games, programs for work etc…and then Android came along and allowed people to do the same thing…not on at all! Finally Microsoft brought out the Windows Marketplace but, as I say above, it just didn’t seem very good.

I’ve had my new HTC Hero:

for about 3 weeks and am finding new apps almost daily. So far, these include:

Advanced Task Killer:

This is a great and very handy app for quickly and easily shutting down all the processes still running in the background. Great for making sure you don’t run low on memory!

 

Aldiko:

Aldiko Book Reader: Download and read thousands of books right on your Android smartphone.

 

and it’s already loaded with:

  • Art of War
  • The Prince
  • Hamlet
  • Othello
  • Macbeth
  • The Iliad

and more…giving me great reading material whenever & wherever I want it; something Windows Mobile could never give me.

To me, this really is brilliant 🙂 When the Christmas gatherings got too much, I was able to easily chill out and read Othello…nice!

I love how it’s home screen is laid out like an actual bookshelf…it might be gimmicky but I like it!

It looks great, works quickly and smoothly and has a brilliant selection of books. I’ve only downloaded the free books, ‘cos I love the classics, but you can also purchase O’ Reilly and MS Press books on there too; making them a truly portable aid.

Bonsai Blast:

A brilliant, fun and very addictive game where you simply need to get 3 coloured balls in a row:

I repeat, this is very addictive and will quickly take up a whole bunch of your time! Great for passing a few minutes or longer in queues, on public transport, waiting for the kettle to boil etc…but those few minutes will almost certainly stretch into 15-20 with a few cries of “just one more go” 🙂

CaveDroid:

A cool retro style 1st person game where you fly through a tunnel avoiding obstacles and collecting points. I can’t find any pics but I’ll keep trying.

Evernote:

Evernote is a pretty well known note-taking app and is very handy to have…I haven’t had cause to use the audio note yet but I can imagine that being pretty useful.

It’s very easy to use and will get a fair bit of use at partner events, seminars, that kind of thing.

OI Shopping List:

This app is brilliant. I’m a little upset that I’m this happy and excited about an app that lets you make lists but it really is very good.

It let’s you put in an expected/known cost for each item and then gives you a total for the list…the best bit is that, if you add in the costs as you go, it gives you a running total of what’s in your trolley/basket/arms. Very useful 🙂

Another great feature is that once you’ve list an item and cost once, future lists will pull that info out automatically…again, very useful! A recent update has given it a “Quantity” column too, which makes it even easier to use.

I’d definitely recommend this app for anyone that buys more than 1 thing from shop 🙂

There are plenty more apps that I’ll detail in future posts. If you’ve got any of your own you’d like to add in, let me know in the comments.

Summary:

I’ve only had my Android phone for a few weeks but I really am truly impressed with it…much more than I was when i got my WinMo 6.1 phone. I am a BIG Microsoft supporter and not particularly a fan of Google at all…however, with Android, they offer the far superior product so that’s what I, as  consumer, chose.

If you’re looking for looking for a cool, stylish, fun, helpful, useful, “check it out mate” phone…DEFINITELY go with an Android device. I’d still recommend Windows Mobile before anything else for a work device, but for a personal mobile device, Android is the top dog in my opinion.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so please, leave a comment and let’s get a discussion going 😉

%d bloggers like this: