Skype has announced that it plans to acquire Qik. Qik provides software which allows you to instantly capture and share (live stream) video on a mobile phone. Qik is available for more than 200 mobile phones, including most Symbian devices. Skype say they share "a common purpose of enriching communications with video" with Qik, but Qik's technology, focused around optimising video transition over mobile networks, will also give Skype's mobile aspirations a boost.
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A recent post of the Nokia Beta Labs blog indicates that Nokia will be discontinuing its augmented reality test-bed application - Nokia Point and Find. However it goes onto say that the underlying augmented reality (and visual search) technology will be incorporated into "the future of key experiences like Maps and Search". The technology may also become available to third party developers, presumably through a service API or similar provision.
Nokia Big Screen, available through Nokia Beta Labs, provides a UI optimised for viewing media via HDMI-out, effectively turning devices like the Nokia N8 and E7 into portable media centres. Nokia Big Screen can be used to view photos and video and listen to music. Additional features include support for video subtitles and audio lyrics (karaoke style). For the best user experience, Nokia Big Screen can be used in conjunction with a Bluetooth remote control device (any HID device), such as Nintendo's Wiimote.
January is traditionally one of the quietest periods of the year for smartphone purchases. However if you are in the market price points have never been lower. For example, the C6-01, the mid tier Symbian^3 handset, can currently be purchased for £210 on PAYG in the UK. Similarly, at the low end of the market, the Nokia 5228 is currently available on PAYG for just £50. This downward pressure on smartphone prices is nothing new.
Having delivered sterling service over Christmas and New Year for my own family, I was interested to see Daniel Wexler's similar account of his holiday adventures with the Nokia N8. As for me, the pre-loaded Ovi Maps Navigation and camera and camcorder were the stars. Embedded below is one of his edited video mashups from the N8's output, see Daniel's blog for more videos and some sample photos. Also below is a typical photo from a sunset walk I did on Christmas day in the UK snow - again, it had to be N8 for me.
Just in time to meet 'released in 2010', Nokia's all-singing, all-dancing Ovi Suite has moved out of beta and into production code, becoming available as a 73MB download via 'Check for updates' in your existing PC or Ovi Suite installations (screenshot below). The main improvements for v3.0(.0.284) are to the Music and Maps modules, but there are also facelifts for most aspects and the inevitable bug fixes.
Visiarc has announced its cooperation with Nokia Beta Labs to provide a way to make Mobile Documents, integrating an email client with a document handler, more visible to the target market and to receive more feedback to improve it. Also worthy of note is the release of a new Mobile Documents beta for Symbian^3 (version 0.9.19) which comes with two new enhancements.
An interesting few thoughts from Pat Phelan (Head of Innovation at Cubic Telecom) based around SMS. The starting point is the impending tidal wave of text messages of “congratulations and all the best” and the realisation that while he personally can’t stand them, for network operators this time of year is a license to print money. Is SMS usage going down? Yes, but not in a significant number. The simple reason is that there’s nothing easy to replace it.
Just a heads-up that Real Golf 2011 HD, which received a rave review from me on the Nokia N8, is now available in the Ovi Store for other Symbian^3 smartphones (e.g. the Nokia C7). Note that the N8 version is free, part of a specific licensing deal by Nokia, but the C7 and C6-01 versions cost £3. Don't worry about this too much, it's well worth the small fee and has almost infinite gameplay.
Tomi Ahonen is widely respected for his macroscopic analyses of the mobile world, so it's worth noting this latest publication, exclusively in PDF/ebook form for 10 Euros. A "companion volume" to his Almanac, the new "Phone Book 2010 gives you 171 pages all about the handsets part of the industry, with over 90 charts, diagrams and tables".
Enough of me wittering on about how good the Nokia N8's camera is - have a look at the first set of Nokia Creative N8 Photo Awards, hosted by James Burland. Culled from almost 500 of the top camera phone photographers in the world, the top entries (one of which is linked/demoed below) in the December 2010 awards really show what the N8's Carl Zeiss-lensed, 12mp, large sensored camera can do.
It’s nice when a post with such a grandiose title like "The Unbearable Inevitability of Being Android, 1995" actually delivers. It takes a look at the number of “Android will crush everyone in 2011” articles and ponders what that actually means. Not directly for the industry as a whole, but what it means for Google as a business, and the hardware partners who have tied themselves to the Mountain View company?
Mashable has pointed out the latest AT&T campaign about the dangers of texting while driving. With the busiest day for text messaging almost upon us (Hogmanay), it’s a reminder that texting whist driving is dangerous, and if it is that urgent to reply or even read a text message, you should pull over and stop the car first.
I can’t resist pointing out another fabulous theme by PiZero I’ve just stumbled over. Called Digiflowers, it’s available for S60 3rd Edition, S60 5th Edition and Symbian^3 handsets. It works in landscape and portrait mode, looks fantastic and adds an artistic flair to your home screen and desktop. Well worth checking out from pizero.net.
Just when you thought it was all over by completing the festive variant, Rovio go and release an update to Angry Birds for Symbian^3 handset owners. With two new level packs (Danger Above and Big Set Up), Golden Egg support and some tweaks to the UI, the fowl flyers are set to keep you frustrated into 2011.