Testing out wordpress for the iphone

This is my first post using my iPhone. I’ve installed the wordpress app and now I’m typing on the phone itself!

First thoughts: it’s great! I was a little concerned that the iphones spell checker wouldn’t work but it does (although not in the post titles).

I’ve tried to attach a photo of brendan so let’s see if that works…

iPhone on O2’s Simplicity Tariffs – £25 a month

My brother has just given our dad his old 2G iphone after upgrading to the 3G one. Initially I thought he would have to pay £35 a month for the iPhone tariff, but it turns out that you can use the old iPhones with any o2 tariff.

There are a number of sim-only Simplicity tariffs, that have short term 30 day contracts, and these start from £15 per month. You can then pay £7.50 extra a month for unlimited data, or £10 a month for unlimited data + wifi.

In the end he opted for the Online 15 tariff with the web+wifi bolt on. This gives him:

  • 200 minutes
  • 400 texts
  • Unlimited O2 to O2 calls
  • Free voicemail
  • Unlimited data + wifi

The only thing he doesn’t get his visual voicemail, but not bad for £25 a month.

3G iPhone

So the iPhone 3G has finally been revealed by Apple today.

  • Built in A-GPS
  • 3G Data transfer, downloading a web page is over 3.5 times faster than EDGE, and even up to 36% faster than on an N95 3G.
  • Improved battery life: 2G talk time up 25% from 8 hours to 10 hours. 5 hours of 3G talk time.
  • Enterprise support: full exchange support, improved VPN support, remote wipe.
  • Third party applications: Games from Sony, massive potential for location based apps
  • Flush rather than recessed headphone jack: this will allow easier use of third party headphones.
  • Distribution in 70 countries
  • Price reduced 50% from $399 to $199 for 8GB model. 16GB white model for $299.
  • Available July 11th

So no front mounted camera for video chat (I guess that can wait for the next version), and the camera is still 2.0 megapixels.

The addition of GPS is a key factor here. It’s going to enable a huge array of location based apps and web services. Prior to the iPhone, few companies cared about mobile, yet now everyone is fighting to build iPhone versions of their services. You know it’s going to be huge when your bank builds an iPhone specific version of their website.

Apples stock (AAPL) is currently down 4%. Is this a good buy opportunity before it soars to $300? 😉

Mobile Broadband Market Roundup – May 2008

It’s been 8 months since I posted my last summary of the mobile broadband market in the UK, and things have developed fairly rapidly since then. In November, O2 launched the iPhone with unlimited Internet access along with some competitive USB dongle packages. Orange have also now joined in the fun, which means that all 5 major UK networks have a reasonably priced mobile broadband offering, compared to only 3 of networks in September 2007.

The time I’m going to separate the tariffs into 2 sections. The first shows the prices when added to a standard voice tariff. The second shows the prices for a standalone mobile broadband account (e.g. through a data card or USB modem).

NB: For this study, I’m only interested in the cheapest “unlimited” packages offered by each provider, as there are too many tariffs if I list every one.

Mobile broadband + phone packages

Network Tarrif Speed Inclusive Data Price
O2 iPhone contract + data pack 200-300 kbps? Unlimited Free with contract
T-mobile Web’n’Walk Plus with Phone contract 1.8 mbps 3 GB / month Normal contact + £7.50/12.50 per month (phone only/phone+laptop)
Three X-Series up to 2.8 mbps 1 GB / month Normal contact + £5.00 per month
Vodafone Phone contract + data pack 7.2 mbps? 500 MB/month Free with contract

With the Vodafone and 02 iPhone tariffs above, I’m unsure whether these can be used as a modem for a laptop or computer. It is certainly technically possible to use an iPhone as a modem. If anyone knows any more on this please add a comment to this post.

Mobile broadband only packages

Network Tarrif Speed Inclusive Data Price (Device + Monthly)
O2 USB Modem – Mobile Broadband (18 months) 1.8 mbps 3GB / month Free + £20 per month (O2 customers only)
Orange USB Modem – Mobile Broadband (18 months) 1.8 mbps 3GB / month Free + £15 per month
T-mobile Web’n’Walk Plus USB Modem / Data card (24 months) 1.8 mbps 3 GB / month Free + £15 per month
Three USB Modem – Broadband Lite (18 months) 2.8 mbps 1GB / month Free + £10 per month (or £5 per month for existing customers)
Vodafone USB Modem – Mobile Broadband (24 months) 7.2 mbps 3GB / month Free + £15 per month


As you can see, £15 a month for 3GB transfer seems to be the most common price point, but you can get it as low as £5 a month from Three if you have an existing mobile contract with them. If you don’t need (or have) a phone line or Sky TV, then at these prices mobile broadband is probably now the cheapest way to get online.

Google launches “My Location” – bring on the blue dot

As many blogs have been reporting today, Google has launched a new feature for their Google Maps for Mobile service called “My Location”.

My Location is simple; it shows a little blue dot on the map to represent your current location. However, the really clever part is that GPS is not required for this to work.

Google are able to calculate your approximate location by reading which cell tower (that’s mobile phone mast to UK readers!) you are connected to, and then looking up the co-ordinates of this tower in a central database.

I tested it out at home and it plotted me on the map to within 1700 metres of my actual position. If you do have GPS then it works even better. Enabling GPS on my N95 improved the accuracy of the blue dot to within 60 metres.

Geo-locating Cell Towers

The process of geo-locating the phone masts / cell towers is fairly simple. Each mast will have a unique identifier (such as a MAC address), so all you need is a GPS/GSM enabled device that records the signal strength and co-ordinates as it passes each mast. With a few samples you can then triangulate the approximate position of the mast.

Here are a few of the projects I found that are attempting to geo-tag wireless networks:

  • Intel have been running a research project for a while called placelab, whose aim was to build a database of locations for WiFi access points and cell phone towers.
  • A community based project called WiGLE is concentrating purely on 802.11b networks and has currently over 12 million access points in its database!
  • GSMLoc is an open source project that aims to locate GSM towers all over the world.

At this point it’s not clear where Google got their database, but it seems to be fairly comprehensive!

T Mobile lock in = no iPhone for me….. yet

I’m pretty jealous… Brendan picked up his new iPhone yesterday and has been flashing around the office all day.


I have been telling myself since the iPhone launched that I would wait until the 3G version (hopefully) comes out next year, but after seeing Brendan effortlessly read his e-mails, speedily tap out text messages, listen to his iTunes library and read his visual voicemails on a beautifully huge touch-sensitive screen…. I just couldn’t wait.

So I phoned T-Mobile:

“I want to cancel my account to get an iPhone with O2… how long is left on my contract?”

“You’ve still got 8 months I’m afraid sir….”

“Really, that long? How much to buy myself out of the contract?”

“It will be 322 pounds sir.”

“Oh, can I downgrade to a lower tarrif?”

“Not until month 11 sir”.

So T-mobile have decided for me. If I could have bought out my contract for say, £100 then I might have done it but £300 (plus £269 for the phone itself) is just too much. Looks like I’ll be waiting for the 3G iPhone 2 after all.

Google’s mobile strategy (Android) is spot on

It’s not often that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) launch a new software development kit with a $10 million prize for developers and a video explanation / press release from one of it’s founders. Yet that is exactly what has happened today with Android’s offical SDK release.

Before you read on, you should probably watch Sergey Brin’s YouTube video.

There has been a lot of fanfare with this latest announcement, but it’s easy to see why; the stakes are huge. By 2010, just over 1 billion people will have access to a computer, but around 4 billion will have access to a mobile phone, with over 1 million new subscribers every day! Google know that the potential for advertising to this vast market is enormous. They already lead the way with their contextual and search based adverts, but with mobile they will be able to target them to location as well.

Now I must admit that I’ve not been particularly enthusiastic about Internet on mobile phones until this year. Previously devices were clumsy to use, access speeds were slow, data transfer was expensive, and sites optimised for the small screen were few and far between.

However fast forward to now and we have flat rate data packages, phones that can cope with complex websites as easily as your desktop browser can and pioneering new interfaces such as the Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) multi-touch technology. The prospects for the Mobile Internet are looking up.

And this is great news for Linux. I think Android will do for Linux on mobile phones what Ubuntu has done for Linux on the desktop. If Google’s powerful brand can help get handset makers to write drivers for their hardware then the community as a whole will benefit.

The scope for software developers is enormous. By the end of next year, most handsets will have built in GPS and Android developers will therefore be able to craft a wide range of innovative location based applications. Think free sat-nav and local business enquiries via Google maps!

So, have Google missed out by not launching a single “gPhone”, and focusing on a software platform instead? In my mind, not at all. Linux’s growth is due to its open source nature and the fact that it can run on an enormous range of hardware, and I think Android will benefit from the same.

If Android will run on a mobile phone, then why not run it on a PC as well? Say hello to Google OS.

More innovation from 3 with 3 Skype Phone

Three have launched some impressively innovative features in the last year or so and they’ve continued this trend with the arrival of their new Skype Phone today. Looking back we’ve had…

3 X Series

First there was X-series that allowed free unlimited internet access on your mobile to services such as ebay, skype, Google, sling box, messenger etc…

3 Mobile Broadband

That was followed by Mobile Broadband, allowing laptops and computers to connect via a USB modem to the Internet over a 3G wireless connection. Their 2.8mbps download speed and £10 per month price point meant that this service was competitive with traditional fixed line broadband services such as ASDL and cable modems.

3 Like Home

Three’s new roaming product is arguably the cheapest on the market, at least if you are phoning home from a country where Three operate. Calls and texts back to the UK from Austria, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Hong Kong and Ireland are deducted from your inclusive minutes just like a normal call.

and now… 3 Skype Phone

The Skype Phone gives free mobile Skype calls to anyone using the handset including their pre-pay customers (as long as they top up £10 per month). According to their FAQ, this works with their 3 Like Home service, allowing free skype calls abroad when roaming on the Three network.

The Skype Phone is free on all pay monthly contracts (from £12 per month), and £49 on pay as you go. It has a 2 megapixel camera, and comes with a 256MB microSD memory card.

3 Skype Phone

It was a good day for Three’s owner, Hutchison Whampoa (0013.HK) with their shares up 8.43%.

UK mobile broadband market – September 2007

The last few months have been pretty exciting for anyone interested in mobile broadband in the UK. Until now, T-mobile has lead the way with their ‘Web N Walk’ unlimited data tariffs, but as of the beginning of this month both Three and Vodafone have launched competitive data products.

I believe now is the first time that mobile broadband can actually rival fixed line broad band in terms of price, speed and bandwidth allowance.

NB: For this study, I’m only interested in data packages that can be used with a computer or laptop (not phone only).

Mobile broadband packages

Network Tarrif Speed Inclusive Data Price
T-mobile Web’n’Walk Plus with Phone contract 1.8 mbps 3 GB / month Normal contact + £12.50 per month
T-mobile Web’n’Walk Plus USB Modem / Data card 1.8 mbps 3 GB / month £29 per month
Vodafone Phone contract standard 7.2 mbps? 15 MB / day £1 per day
Vodafone Phone contract + data pack 7.2 mbps? 120 MB / month £ 7.50 per month
Three USB Modem – Broadband Lite *2.8 mbps 1GB / month £10 per month
Three USB Modem – Broadband Lite *2.8 mbps 3GB / month £15 per month
Three USB Modem – Broadband Max *2.8 mbps 7GB / month £25 per month

* Three’s 2.8 mbps area is being rolled out gradually from September 2007 onwards, with national network coverage expected in 2008.

Cost of mobile roaming set to fall next week

Thanks to new regulation by the European Commission, the cost of making and receiving a mobile phone call while you are abroad in the EU is set to fall from next week. The following table highlights the new roaming prices that UK operators will charge.

Network Making a call Receiving a call
Three 25p per min 15p per min
T-mobile 38p per min 19p per min
Vodafone 38p per min 19p per min
O2 35p per min 18p per min
Orange 38p per min 19p per min