Smartphones

Great WordPress plugin for converting your website to mobile app style format!

WPtouch Screen ShotWPtouch Screen ShotWPtouch by BraveNewCode Inc., is a WordPress plugin which formats your website with a mobile app style theme for visitors accessing your site from devices such as the Apple iPhone, or iPod Touch, Google Android, Blackberry Storm and Torch, Palm Pre and other touch-based smartphones.  I discovered it yesterday evening and I’m really very impressed!  Configuration was simple right down to setting up colour schemes and icons for each of your page links.  You can decide which categories and pages you want to display on mobile devices and whether to include links to RSS and email.  There is even the option to disable other WordPress plugins which may feature scripts that cause conflicts when used upon mobile platforms.  The WPtouch plugin is a brilliantly executed solution and best of all, it’s free!  Here are some screen shots showing http://www.f2mke.co.uk rendered using WPtouch on  my iPhone 4.  Why not check it out for yourself?

Visit http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wptouch/ to read more about and download WPtouch.

Is the keyboard dead?

Interesting discussion on http://www.quora.com on whether or not the keyboard is dead and just debated on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour… Check out http://www.quora.com/Is-the-keyboard-dead?q=is+the+keyboard+dead

Live on YouTube

It’s official! YouTube is entering it’s next and possibly next best phase… Live streaming… YouTube coverage is easily everywhere; on our phones, on our games consoles and of course, on our computers.  So obviously the next step is to enter into world wide web that is live broadcasts.

YouTube Live

At the moment you have to be Google pre-approved – at the moment… So Pirate TV for the masses is, as yet, not a virtual reality. Your mobile device will have to wait too as there is no mobile functionality for YouTube streamers… Yet. All of these yets do make sense for Google, to see how the service might develop in a relatively controlled environment, to maintain a quality check and of course, to allow time for the momentum of the developing masses to come up with some interesting and killer app engaging ways of making this a must have service.

A cool touch is that you can click to add an upcoming live stream to your calendar.

Hey! Have a look http://www.youtube.com/live 😉

Gove Phone Home

The Department for Education (DfE) has launched a consultation document about ensuring good behaviour in schools. The closing date is the 30th May 2011. And the outcomes of the consultation could directly influence the approach to the use of technology in the classroom – specifically mobile devices. View the consultation at http://goo.gl/l2f1M.

Ewan McIntosh’s blog carries a great article about this with your comments encouraged at http://goo.gl/yaFGH.

Doug Belshaw and others have launched an open letter to Mr Gove to explain why mobile phone technology, far from being banned in schools, must be embraced – and you can add your weight to it at http://goo.gl/E2VOW.

I’ve written a little on the subject of mobile devices at http://goo.gl/aakSb and http://goo.gl/O223Y – but really could do with writing more 😉

Mobile technology – the Smart Phone – has truly arrived. It’s been flirting with us for a number of years now, promising sweet access to the regular tasks that we traditionally and reluctantly dragged a charged laptop, or netbook, around with us to do.

I was recently forced into testing the validity of this claim after moving house… No Internet access for about a month. Instead, my iPhone. I was easily able to manage Email, Facebook, this WordPress blog, Twitter, modest editing and uploading of graphics for my blog, Googling, YouTubing, etc., etc. Pretty much everything I do on a typical day with my netbook – and my full blown PC – was achievable in a friendly and properly mobile way.

The e-safe use in the classroom question is an interesting one… We clearly can’t go whacking web filtering or monitoring tools on what are most likely privately owned devices; and that’s if such software exists. David posts familiar comments on Ewan’s blog with stories of pupils “arranging toilet meetings, Facebook comments about other pupils, texting parents & older siblings to get them out of school, texting aggressive parents because they’ve been pulled up on behavior (who then show up at the front door), sharing video and pictures that are inappropriate for school etc.“. Is there a balance to be had where good mobile device behaviour equals access to the device in the classroom? Or maybe a lesson is so engaging together with the use of mobile devices that rubbish behaviour isn’t even considered? Interested to hear what ideas others have.

 

 

 

What life is like ‘Off Net’

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… Is the kind of fitting intro to a roll-up, or crawl, for this F2MKE blog. For I have moved home – from rurality to city heights – and in theory far more and better connectivity! Well you’d think!? Mental note – quick mention of how to switch on Caps Lock on the iPhone later… However, despite being in a dead centre postcode I struggle to get a full Vodafone GPRS signal, let alone 3G. So bang goes my plans to use my Vodafone dongle, or tether to my iPhone. So instead I have to wait nearly a full month for Virgin to activate my line and send me whatever kit comes with the bundle. Why??

So, my only option seems to be the iPhone for the next few weeks… That and much time spent at Starbucks, or McDonalds. The latter options could wind up expensive and defeat any plus points gained from lots more walking and on the doorstep convenient swimming?

Having never read the iPhone 4 manual – or any tech manual probably – And with even more use and necessity of said device, I stumbled across activating Caps Lock yesterday. A simple double-tap of the Shift key turns it blue and voila, your in capitals! How did I cope before?

Sprinting forward to the Kyocera Echo

The Smart Phone market just got smarter! We all know it and we all want it. That innovative and ground-breaking truly portable device giving us the freedom to leave home with light pockets, hand and man bags, yet remain connected, productive, powered-up and cool – of course. Sprint and Kyocera have pushed through the next boundary to introduce that welcome blur between the Smart Phone and Tablet with the Sprint Kyocera Echo. Two touch-screens literally merge when the device is opened to deliver a 4.7″ tablet. The liquid metal hinge alone has six patents pending.

Sprint Kyocera Echo OpenWhat we know so far….

It’s well connected with Bluetooth and WiFi. It should be capable with a 1GHz Snapdragon QSD 8650 processor. It does other Smart Phone stuff like take pictures and video with a 5 megapixel camera and flash. And it is another device taking advantage of the Android OS. Launch is rumoured to be in Spring for the US at an anticipated $199.

Sprint Kyocera Echo Closed

Sprint_Kyocera_Echo_Closed

There’s more on Smart Phones at http://www.f2mke.co.uk/2010/09/01/smart-phones-a-serious-contender-for-everyday-productivity-learning/

Let’s see what happens…

Does desire drive destiny?

It is interesting to read that smart phones now grab a 25% share of the US mobile market – up 2% in the last quarter. The Nielsen Company predicts that sales will overtake traditional mobile phones by the end of 2011. This is fast paced change no doubt encouraged over the past few years by the media hyped iPhone and swell that is social networking.

Smart Phone Growth Q2 2010

This trend goes hand in hand with recent figures that show Facebook to dominate the lives of mobile internet users in the UK. In December 2009 about 16 million UK citizens accessed the internet from their mobile phones and nearly half of the traffic was to Facebook!

But surprisingly it is not Apples iPhone and iOS that is dominating the pack. Google’s Android OS is fast gaining market share ahead of Google’s own predictions.

“Google’s Android OS has shown the most significant expansion in market share among current subscribers. Android’s rise is even more noticeable among new smartphone subscribers in the last six months where Android has nosed past Apple’s iOS in the last quarter to grab a 27% share of those recent smartphone subscribers.” The Nielsen Company

But does desire drive destiny?

Despite Android’s apparent boom time, 90% of existing iPhone users and a significant 21% of Android users most desire an iPhone as their next device. It is difficult to draw any conclusions other than on price points. Apple’s marketing machine is arguably the strongest and the brand simply oozes iconic cool, ease and IT just works ( dodgy reception aside ;)).

But quite clearly, if the trends are anything to go by, in these fraught global economic times desire alone isn’t enough to sustain market dominance. HTC may well have pulled a clever marketing coup in calling their Android powered popular iPhone alternative the Desire?

Next desired smart phone OS

I don’t see the battle between the giants that are Google and Apple spelling the demise of the Blackberry just yet… Businesses that are serious about security and device management have little choice but to continue with Blackberry.

iPhone Photo Editing Apps

It was a bit of a leap of faith for me when switching from my reliable Blackberry Bold 9000, with its perfect little keyboard and reassuring security, to the iPhone 4. Much time was spent comparing the iPhone to the latest Bold and HTC Desire with its “get under the bonnet” Android OS. A few months in and I would never go back! In true Apple style the interface is incredibly intuitive and slick. The performance is brilliant. The screen is another level up from any other phone that I have seen or used. I’m spending about 40% of my computing and online time on the iPhone – something that I would never have thought feasible! See the “man bag” article to read more about this…

Anyway… I’ve started to explore the mega vault of apps that are available through iTunes (the Marmite of music, video and apps stores) and this post starts with a quick review of some of the free to cheap apps available.

Starting with photo editing apps that can really bring to life the great quality pics that the iPhone 4 is capable of taking!

ColorSplash costs $1.99 and is a great little app. Very simply ColorSplash allows you to load up an image, convert it to grayscale and then, using pinch pan and zoom and your finger, select the parts of the pic that you want in colour. Remarkably simple and really easy to use! Then you have a number of save or share options; straightforward save, email, copy to clipboard, upload to Facebook or Flickr and post to Twitter.

The following example took about 2 minutes and is shared on Flickr – and yes I will regret posting this one 😉

Next up is Mill Colour from UK based BAFTA and Oscar award winning visual effects company The Mill. This is a free app that in essence alows you to apply some great filters to your pics and play around with Lift, Gamma, Gain and Saturation.

Another example…

Colour Mill 2

Now for a little fun and free app called PuriPhoto which brings PuriKura photo booths, which iconify Japanese pop culture, to the iPhone. Again a very simple to use, possibly slightly girly app, that gives you a bit of “Scott Pilgrim Vs The World” photo editing fun!

Here’s a pretty mundane example but you get the idea 🙂

Colour Mill 1

Hipsatamatic was recommended to me by a reader… I’ve downloaded it and found myself going all analogue. It’s a serious app. The default films, lenses and flashes get you going, but there is always the temptaion to download more at about £0.59 a bundle. The app itself costs $1.99 and is worth every cent.

Output seems to be limited to 600×600 which is a shame – there may be an option to increase this though probably at a cost.

Here are some hip Old Skool snaps with old skool candy and classic Landy 😉

Hipstamatic and Fizz Wiz

And a modern classic…

Hipstamatic Land Rovers

Finally a not tremendously exciting but very practical and a free must have app is CropForFree which allows you to do just that. You can crop (and the guitar pic above is an example using this app) and rotate 90 degrees left or right. That’s it. Simple.

Apple’s iOS4.1 is out now and there is a very cool new functional addition that will help with your photo taking…

HDR
HDR, or High Dynamic Range, allows you to get perfectly exposed pictures by merging three snaps – one over exposed, one under exposed and one at correct exposure. When merged, you’ll see some pretty dramatic effects.

This is already available in more advanced photo editors such as Photoshop, but as an added extra to the iPhone’s camera it certainly takes the already much improved picture taking capability of the iPhone44 5 megapixel camera up a notch.

Smart Phones – a serious contender for everyday productivity & learning..?

Small is beautiful! But is it really practical?

I rely on being connected with access to my key apps, communication tools and unlimited supply of information – increasingly location specific. I’m also (slowly) trying to reduce the amount of stuff and clutter that I have, both at home and when out and about. I’ll always aspire to the minimalist way of life but acknowledge that this will never be a reality 😉

So, if it is a given that the ‘manbag’ is now as acceptable as the male handbag in our cosmopolitan existence, then this is a good starting point for stuff limitation.

Indiana Jones with his Manbag

Indiana Jones with his Manbag

My starting point back in 2006 was a manbag capable of housing a Samsung Q1, mobile phone and wallet. Although smaller than a standard laptop bag, with dimensions to support a 15-17″ device, my look was bulky and still reasonably weighty. I could link the mobile phone up to the Q1 to get a vague shot at internet access – the phone, a Samsung D400, alone was a no hoper on the web and apps front despite being the latest and supposedly greatest at the time.

Samsung Q1 and D400

Samsung Q1 and D400

And ultimately, the Q1 was not a heap better. The screen resolution was just not up to scratch and the battery life, although good compared to your standard laptops of the time, barely managed a couple of hours after a year’s regular use.As soon as it was possible for me to do so, I had moved back to a laptop – a Dell 430 which was about as small as I deemed practically feasible at the time. In the mobile stakes it proved pretty useless after a short while with dreadful battery life the main problem. Didn’t fit the manbag either!

Dell D430

Dell D430

Then came the Samsung NC10. Ultra mobile perfection when it arrived and still holds its own today! A usable screen, keyboard and awesome battery life that has not seemingly diminished in over 2 years of use! Plenty of connectivity options to boot and extremely well built. I firmly believe that the NC10 and its successors and imitators are currently the only way to go in the classroom, mobile working and just plain old social-wise.

Samsung NC10

Samsung NC10

And now comes the SMART phone. And I say now despite the existence of this marketplace for quite some time. It is really only over the past few years that these devices have become a practical mobile alternative to supporting short burst communication and productivity tasks. I started with the Blackberry Bold 9000… I wasn’t ready for touch screen and found the excellent keyboard and track-pad reassuring and surprisingly nimble to use. So, here I was in a position to downsize the manbag – well most of the time – email was a doddle, Facebook kept me socially connected and a decent web browser teamed with manageable screen size and GPS gave me access to most of the info that I needed most of the time. Battery life was also good enough – I’m quite happy for the overnight charging routine! Where the Bold fell down at the time was around the apps available and their true ease of use within the screen real estate and keyboard navigation.

iPhone 4_& HTC Desire

iPhone 4 & HTC Desire

With great trepidation (for me anyway), I took the slightly more expensive plunge for the iPhone 4… The closest competition seemed to be the HTC Desire with Google Android OS. Reviews suggested that there was little between the two; the main being that the iPhone just worked, was intuitive and had the best wealth and integration of apps. The Android OS gives you more geek factor in terms of getting under the bonnet.

I’m hooked! I can’t say that the iPhone replaces my little Samsung NC10. But it’s a 40/60 % split in use between the two. The iPhone is spot on for short tasks like viewing and small edits with Google Apps and other office tools.  I’m posting on WordPress, Twitter and Facebook. Photo stuff is a breeze with Flickr and Facebook. Dropbox and ZumoDrive keep everything stored and synchronised. And that’s without the many, many other apps that float my boat! Internet access with location services, music, talking and so on is all without effort – and I can go on a bit on the talking front! The option to pinch and zoom and switch between portrait and landscape at the flick of a wrist makes for a strong case for the size being really practical. Battery life still fits with the overnight charge regime and that’s despite comparatively far greater use.

More time spent with some of the apps that could be relevant to education is now needed to round this article off!

Cool video from Google

This video nicely sums up where the desktop is going…

A colleague and I have some ideas about how this could be taken to the next level to further reduce support and maintenance… I’ll post soon.