Smartphones Archive

DLNA now part of Nokia Lumia WP7 phones with Play To app


Nokia’s Play To app now available for Lumia devices, enables DLNA-connectivity – Engadget

“Play To” DLNA App for Lumia’s Already Available in Marketplace | My Nokia Blog

My Comments

A feature that Microsoft should have provided as part of the Windows Phone mobile operating system but provides as part of the Windows 7 desktop operating system is the “Play To” function. Here, it allows you to push pictures, audio content or video content from your device to a DLNA-compliant network media player that can be controlled by other devices.

A question I have pondered about this operating environment is whether one could play content held on the phone or on a DLNA-compliant network media server through that smart TV or network-capable home-theatre receiver using one of these phones. Now the question has been answered with this app being available for the platform.

But, personally, I would like to see this available on the Windows Phone MarketPlace as an app for any WP7 phone and work in a “full” manner with network and local content. This means that it could download content from a DLNA NAS to the phone, play out content to a DLNA device, upload photos and video content to a NAS with DLNA upload functionality as well as cause content held on a media server to be played on a media-renderer device. This could them prove the Windows Phone 7 as part of the industry-standard media management landscape.

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A vehicle hands-free kit offering access to apps on your iPhone


Clarion Next Gate hands-on (video) – Engadget

Clarion Next Gate puts iPhone control, app integration on your windshield | CNet Reviews

Clarion Next Gate brings iPhone apps (and distractions) to your windshield | Engadget

My Comments

The CTIA mobile-technology show in the US has become a launch-pad for Clarion’s “Next Gate” car hands-free kit.

The kit works in a similar manner to Pioneer’s “AppRadio” concept, where an iPhone that has a specific handler app is connected to the car-audio system and selected apps are exposed to the car-audio system’s touchscreen display and control surface.

But this unit implements it in the form of a “walk-up” hands-free kit that has the main unit temporarily mounted in the car and powered from the vehicle’s cigar lighter and connected to the auxiliary input of an existing car stereo. 

There are a few questions that need to be answered concerning these car-audio setups. One is why the device doesn’t support a Bluetooth device class or application to permit this kind of “remoting” of specific applications held on a platform smartphone, such as Internet-audio, navigation and traffic-information apps from an external control surface. This may help with people who may not want to bother cabling up the smartphone to this device.

Of course there is already a standard available to the market for this kind of remote control of smartphones from a dashboard-based control surface. This is in the form of MirrorLink, valued by an increasing number of other vehicle infotainment companies operating in the OEM and aftermarket space, and Samsung is running with this standard in their latest Galaxy S III smartphone.

But Clarion and Pioneer may prefer having these devices work as a discrete user interface to the apps themselves and the data they expose rather than the phone as a device. This may provide the ability for the device manufacturers like them to have greater control over what apps appear on these devices.

If the direct-app-link approach is preferred for vehicle-smartphone integration rather than the “terminal” approach offered by MirrorLink, the industry could work on a standard for facilitating this kind of link.

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Samsung Galaxy S 3 intending to compete against the next iPhone


Samsung Galaxy S III | Samsung Galaxy S 3 | The Age Technology

Samsung Galaxy S III signup page goes live | Engadget

Samsung launches new services for the Galaxy S III: Music Hub, S Health and more |  Engadget

Samsung Galaxy S III vs Galaxy S II and Galaxy S: meet the family | Engadget

My Comments

There was a sense of hype being built up around Samsung’s latest Galaxy smartphone that was to be launched in London today (5 May 2012) but I was wondering whether it really had a lot more to look forward to.

It is an Android Ice Cream-Sandwich phone that works with the user in a natural manner such as supporting “Smart Stay” which works with eye-tracking to keep the display on while you are looking at it; as well as a “direct call” option which starts dialing the number on the screen if you pick it up to your ear; as well as voice-recognition that is intended to answer Apple’s Siri in its capabilities.

Oh yeah, it is still with an AMOLED screen but larger and with high resolution, but not as large as the Galaxy Note “PDA-size phone”. It also has the expectations of a desirable smartphone such as an LTE variant; Bluetooth 4.0 “Smart Ready”, near-field communication.

What is in my favour for the Galaxy S II is that it has inherent support for MirrorLink so that it can use the display and control surface of a compatible automotive infotainment system as its display and control surface. The 8Mp rear camera also impresses me due to implementation of auto-focus.

Samsung are also running a comprehensive accessory suit including a wireless charger and an AllShare wireless link to video display equipment.

The press reckons that the Android-based answer is the HTC One X but they see this also as Samsung coming up with a phone that beats the Apple iPhone and has cause for Apple to work harder on the next iPhone iteration. It certainly is an example of the way mobile-computing has come of age, in a similar way to how GUI-driven desktop computing has come of age in the late 1980s when GUI operating environments appeared for computer platforms other than the Apple Macintosh.

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The full-featured wristwatch has come back thanks to Sony


Sony unveils ‘Dick Tracy’ Android wristwatch

Sony unveils the SmartWatch, syncs with Android phones |

From the horse’s mouth

Product page – Sony UK

My Comments

Since the late 1970s, some Japanese firms like Seiko and Casio introduced multi-function digital wristwatches. These typically had an integrated calendar, alarm clock and stopwatch as well as the time display with a seconds count; and showed this information on a liquid-crystal display. There were some economy models that came with just a time display and a calendar.

Infact, through 1980-81, these were a “must-have” and people could impress each other by showing that new digital watch they had bought. They would even step their watch through the functions that it could do.

Through the 80s, manufacturers gradually added extra functions to these watches such as hourly chimes, musical alarms, phonebooks, four-function calculators and even games as a way of differentiating their product. This trend started to peel off through the 1990s due to various factors such as an effective “innovation ceiling” for this product class as well as the mobile phone becoming a commodity.

Even now, the smartphone has displaced the wristwatch as a personal timepiece, with some people wearing a quartz analogue watch as a “dress watch” or not using a watch at all. This is due to the smartphone implementing a clock that works off an Internet-based or mobile-network-based master clock and setting up for daylight-saving automatically. They also have the same functionality as the most tricked-out 1980s-era digital wristwatch, if not more.

There have been a few attempts at implementing a digital watch that works as a remote terminal for a smartphone but Sony have released the latest in the form of the “Smart Watch”.

This is an Android-powered wristwatch that is paired with an Android smartphone using Bluetooth technology. The phone runs a special communications app that allows it to be a display and control surface for that phone. You control this watch using its OLED touchscreen rather than pressing one of the buttons on the side of those watches, There is the ability to upload apps to the watch via the communications app so you have the right functions on your wrist.

At the moment, there needs to be work done on providing a level playing field for data communications between smartphones or similar devices and remote-display devices like these watches. Devices like watches would also need to keep the time independently of the phone when they are offline from that phone so they can do what a watch does best.

This could become an interesting return to the watch just like what has happened in the 1980s where the desire for many functions on your wrist made this accessory earn its utility value rather than fashion value.

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We can sell the Samsung Android tablets in Australia–for now


Samsung tablet ban lifted | The Age IT (Australia)

My Comments

This latest development is part of the patent war taking place concerning mobile devices, with this round of legal action by Apple against Samsung being more of a “patent on style”. Here, the goal of the Apple lawsuit was to prevent the sale of the Samsung Galaxy tablets and smartphones because they were seen as valid competition to the iPhone and iPad and it has been known that Apple aren’t keen on licensing their patent portfolio to others.

Now the Full Federal Court in Australia overturned an injunction prohibiting the sale of the Galaxy Tab series of tablet devices in in that country; as long as the sales were accounted for. But Apple intends to go to the High Court to maintain an injunction against further sale of these devices

While the initial Federal Court injunction was in place, there were attempts to parallel-import the devices in to Australia but these were met with threatening letters from Apple’s legal team. This is even though it was feasible for people to buy or have others buy the Galaxy Tab devices in other countries that don’t have an injunction in place against them, then bringing them in or having them posted or shipped in to Australia.

This case may have the soundings of similar action that Apple took concerning GUIs and the Macintosh, with it being resolved in a more competitive manner thus allowing for a level playing field.

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Should mobile carriers charge a premium for tethering your mobile phone to your computer?


BBC News – Mobile web users at the end of their tether

My comments

This article is pointing to a common practice amongst most US and European mobile-phone carriers concerning the tethering of mobile phones.

What is tethering?

This is where one uses a mobile phone as a wireless 3G modem for another computing device like a laptop computer or a tablet. It can be done wirelessly using a Bluetooth link or the phone operating as a wireless router when certain software is run. On the other hand, it can be done simply by connecting the phone to the PC using a USB cable and running a driver set on the PC.

Why tether than use a separate modem

Tethering has an advantage over using a separate modem to service a device’s data needs. Here, one doesn’t have to manage different data plans for each device – the mobile phone, the tablet computer or the laptop. Instead, they can work with a larger plan that is shared amongst all the devices.

Laptop users also benefit from tethering. This is because, unless they have a 3G-enabled laptop, they only need to think of one device i.e. the mobile phone rather than making sure they have a 3G USB or ExpressCard modem with them.

The common practice with mobile carriers

Most of the US phone carriers like AT&T or Verizon, as well as some of the European carriers treat the tethering as a distinct “wireless-modem” usage compared to using a phone for integrated Web browsing. Here, they insert premiums for this usage in to their tariff charts for this kind of usage and the US carriers even implement software to discourage tethering unless the user subscribes to a plan that specifically allows tethering.

My experience with Telstra

I have maintained a mobile phone service with Telstra since 1997, working through six subsidised-handset contracts over this period.

Last year, before I went to Sydney, I went to a Telstra store to ask about my data options with respect to my then-current phone contract, Here, I asked about whether I should tether my handset to my laptop or buy a 3G “stick” either as an extra service on my bill or as a prepaid service. They suggested that I consider tethering and increase my plan’s data allowance and I had paid for the extra data allowance.

Here, Telstra offered lower-allowance data plans as part of their mobile phone plans but allowed customers to “buy on” more data allowance. Here the tariff charts don’t discriminate between using your phone as a modem for another device and using the phone as its own Internet terminal. This is although they sell a range of 3G “sticks” and “MiFi” devices alongside the mobile phones.

I didn’t need to do anything to the phone to enable tethering and was able to be sure it worked on a “utility” laptop that I had and was intending to take to Sydney. This was before I was lent the Dell Inspiron 15r laptop which I reviewed as part of the trip. Here, I had made sure that the Inspiron had the necessary drivers for the phone before I had left.

Recent steps with some European carriers

Some European carriers have taken the same step that Telstra has been doing for the many years. That is to modify the tariff charts to remove the distinction between tethered (modem) and handset-specific data.

It is to cater for the reality that the same device uses the same bandwidth whether it is for its own use or another device’s use.

Tethering can benefit the carrier as well

Mobile-phone tethering provides a financial benefit for the carriers as well as a utility benefit for the users. Here, it allows the carrier to see increased per-service revenue. Typically this can be brought about by customers increasing their data allowances in the same way that I did – buying on extra data capacity to their plans where the tariff chart allows.

This is although most customers don’t “burn up” their call or data allowances that they pay for. Rather, if they anticipate extra use, they would increase the allowances. One reason is to allow the customers to budget for a predictable amount for their communications.

Tethering and the Internet-enabled car

When one starts to think of Internet-based infotainment like listening to Internet radio while driving or Internet-driven synchronous traffic-status updating for navigation systems, one would think of how they get the data to the vehicle.

I had touched on this previously in the article about Internet radio in the car and have mentioned that tethering a mobile phone to a vehicle’s infotainment system would be one of the pathis. Infact it may be a logical path as Bluetooth is used to facilitate handsfree calling in the vehicle.


What I would see is that tethering shouldn’t be treated different from phone-specific use and that users should be aware of this as an alternative to operating separate modems and accounts.

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Do we need to patent the style or interface of a device?


Apple v Samsung just the tip of the iceberg

My Comments

What the Apple v Samsung court case that is being litigated around many countries in the world is about is the attempt by manufacturers to patent the style or operation interface for classes of manufactured goods, i.e. tablet computers and smartphones.

A manufacturer may work out the style for a particular class of manufactured goods or determine a user interface that is going to be the way this class of goods will be operated. But do they need to patent this style or user interface and chase down to sue other manufacturers who implement this user interface or style.

Established design practices that I have observed

In the case of how manufactured goods are styled, I have seen a large number of device classes that have a very common style and user-interface in place. Take for example, Henry Ford who determined the layout and role of the pedals in a car with the clutch on the left, brake in the centre and accelerator (gas pedal) on the right. This was gradually implemented by other vehicle builders in the early days of the car and became the standard for foot control in the car. Here, you didn’t need to relearn vehicle-control skills and practices just to suit particular manufacturers’ vehicles. For a tablet computer, the multi-touch operating procedures like the “pinch-to-zoom” procedure are really about achieving a consistent user interface. For Apple to patent the multi-touch interface is utter nonsense.

Similarly, there have been devices that used the same or similar industrial design, usually with a few variations. A common example are the interlocking rim deadbolts used in the USA and Australia. A lot of these units have a very common styling, with the turn-knob being the only part that differs between manufacturers in most cases. There have also been the earlier “IBM clone” computers with a system box and monitor styled like the original IBM equipment. In one example the “clone” monitor had a third “on-off” knob as well as the brightness and contrast knobs that were part of IBM’s design. Of course the monitor had the same fascia as the IBM design.

I often find that the use of common designs or user interfaces can work to gain increased acceptance of the device class, while the manufacturers take tome to work on a unique industrial design or different features.

The Samsung Galaxy S smartphone – is it the same as the iPhone 3GS?

I don’t see the Samsung Galaxy S smartphone, which I own, as being a copy of the Apple iPhone 3GS. The differences that I would notice include the installation of the headphone and microUSB jacks on the top edge of the phone, a removeable back to gain access to the microSD card, USIM card and battery as well as two extra touch-buttons at the bottom of the screen that are part of the Android user interface.

A person may think that this phone is an iPhone clone due to the use of the black bezel around the display, a hardware “home” button and a faux-chrome strip around the phone’s edge. This would be more so when the phone is in a hibernation state. Similarly, a “swipe to unlock” user interface which may use different prompt graphics to Apple’s “slide-switch” graphic may still be considered as mimicking Apple’s user interface.

Ramifications of this legal battle

I would suspect that if Apple wins the legal battle on user-interface grounds, it could affect all touchscreen computing applications, whether with a smartphone, tablet computer or even touchscreen implementations in regular computing devices. This could even go as far as Microsoft’s touchscreen computing table or dynamic whiteboards that allow touch interactivity.

It may also affect the abovementioned design practice associated with implementing similar industrial designs in most manufactured goods or the user interface in computer software. It would be more so with the positioning or styling of visual cues in these designs and can even affect how buildings or interiors are styled in case they cross over a brand’s territory.


This issue of using patents to protect the style or user-interface of a manufactured device or computer program shouldn’t be used to stifle the creation of competitive devices and the exploitation of the technology. The concept of patents should be more about providing a way of exploiting the protected technology in a competitive manner but with proper attribution.

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Apple iOS 5–To be updated without the need to tether your device


Apple iOS 5 Updated Over the Air –

My Comments

The latest incarnation of Apple’s iOS platform is intended to be about integration with an Apple-based iCloud cloud-based computing environment. This is alongside the dream that Steve Jobs has about less reliance on the desktop computing environment. But there is an advantage that will benefit users of any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch whether they just use their device alongside a regular computer or independently.

This advantage is about “over-the-air” software updating for the operating environment. Some mobile phone platforms, such as a few Android installations, were able to be updated without the need to tether the phone to the computer. As well, iOS users could keep their device’s app collection up to date independently of the computer, a practice similar to adding an app to these devices. Now this will be implemented across the iOS platform so you don’t need to connect up that iPhone or iPad to your computer and fire up iTunes whenever Apple revises the platform.

One benefit that I would see out of this is if one’s computer is down for any reason, they can still update the iOS device. Also you don’t need to know where that white USB lead that connects your iPhone to your PC is.

Similarly, the update experience is more reliable for most Mac or PC users. This is because there is less risk of the device being “bricked” (put out of action) due to reasons like a software crash or hang; a slow computer or the USB cable coming out of the device’s Dock connector.

There may be disadvantages with this setup, especially for devices that are primarily operated on a wireless-broadband network. This is where the update may become a significant cost due to the data allowance on most low-end wireless-broadband plans. This may not be of concern for those of us who use the iPhone with Wi-Fi networks associated with most home or business wireline broadband services.

A good question with this update that may concern owners of existing iOS devices is whether the device needs to be prepared for “over-the-air” updating or not. This may be dependent on what version of the iOS system you are running. Here, the device could be enabled through an operating-system update or the installation of an “enabler” app from the iTunes App Store.

It will be interesting to then see whether all the iPhone and iPad users will find it easier to keep these ubiquitous mobile computing devices up to data.

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Simplifying login and authentication processes for WiFi hotspots


Wi-Fi body wants hotspots to override 3G • reghardware

From the horse’s mouth

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ Hotspot Program to Ease Subscriber Connectivity in Service Provider Wi-Fi® Hotspots  – Press Release

Wi-Fi Alliance Webpage

My comments

One main thrust behind the Wi-Fi Alliance’s new initiative concerning authentication, authorisation and accounting on public hotspots was to permit a wireless-broadband carrier to use Wi-Fi hotspots as a complimentary cellular technology. This is to avoid the need to buy cellular-telephony spectrum in order to increase service capacity and is increasingly necessary as the available radio spectrum becomes increasingly scarce.

Here, a cellular carrier could run their own Wi-Fi hotspot networks like what Telstra is doing or they could form a partnership with a wireless Internet service provider like “The Cloud” in the UK as a way of providing this service. They could then allow for a customer to seamlessly hand over from a 3G network to a Wi-Fi network that supports these credentials.

The way this is going to operate is to use a SIM card in a smartphone to store credentials for Wi-Fi networks. This card is typically controlled by the cellular carrier and may be only used for login credentials that continue the carrier’s partnerships.

A limitation I find with this is that the carrier could implement software locks so that the customer can’t use public networks other than those provided for by the carrier or their partnership. As well, there are other issues that haven’t been looked at properly with this goal for improved authorisation, authentication and accounting on these networks as I list below.

Venue-controlled hotspots

It can also make life difficult for customers who use hotspots provided by venue owners like hotels or cafes. Here, the login experience is typically managed by the hotspot owner and this may require information like a session ID in the case of a hotspot at a bar or cafe, or a room number for a hotel. These may apply for hotspot service where you pay the premises owner for that service or the service is part of the business’s main operation. In some free hotspots, you may have to click on a form to assent to terms and conditions of the service before you continue using the service.

As well, a user could use a hotspot run by an independent wireless hotspot operator and buy their access themselves through a Web-based user interface before using the service.

What I would like to see is support for these kind of hotspots because the user interface that is provided by most of them can become awkward for people who use handheld devices. This is typically because most of these user interfaces are designed for devices like laptops rather than handheld devices.

The improved interfaces could support “app-style” login experiences including “remember-me” login experiences where applicable. Other improvements that could be facilitated include the use of barcodes that are scanned by the phone’s camera to load “session keys” for docket-controlled hotspots or MMS direct-load support for login tokens for “SMS login token” WISPS. It could then lead to a venue-branded experience which some users may find as a “safety net” for their hotspot experience.

As well, a branded experience can be part of a “walled-garden” of sites that a person can visit free of charge or can be a sophisticated experience with such things as an online menu or the ability to order food and drink from your computing device.

Similarly, the idea of “franchising” WISP service to owners of venue-controlled hotspots hasn’t been worked out fully with this technology. Here, a person could have the rights to resell a WISP’s service under varying risk-return models and have the clients associated with that service use their hotspot in exchange for a cut of the costs paid by the clients.

Selective device-cluster creation

It is also a preferred standard to have devices in a public network isolated at lower network levels in order to prevent unwanted peer-to-peer discovery of the devices on these networks. This is typically achieved through functions like “AP isolation” or “Wireless Network isolation” and makes it appear to the devices that they are connecting directly to the Internet privately.

There are situations where a person may want to provide local connectivity between their own devices or devices owned by other users that are in their trust circle. Examples of this include LAN-based gaming over a wireless hotspot network, workgroups sharing data during a cafe meeting; one shifting data between a smartphone and a tablet computer at a coffee lounge or simply uploading pictures from a Wi-Fi-enabled camera to a 13” traveller laptop at their favourite “watering hole”.

Here, the authentication needed for this could be achieved through “same-token” login for devices with integrated Web browsers to entry of MAC addresses or WPS PIN numbers into a “cluster-creation” screen provided by the hotspot gateway. The Wi-Fi Alliance could examine the feasibility of using the new authentication methods as a way of creating selective network clusters across a device-isolated public wireless network.

Authenticating hotspots at the SSID-discovery level

The other question that has not been answered as far as I am concerned is whether there will be a system for authenticating hotspots and public networks in a similar manner to what is done when a user logs on to a banking site for example. This is to verify that the user has discovered a “safe” network before they select that SSID and begin to login to the hotspot.

The data that would be verified would be the MAC addresses of the access points as well as the gateway device’s  IP address and MAC address. This can be used to verify that the user has logged in to a network that is operated by the venue that is providing the hotspot service. For a WISP like “The Cloud” or FON, this may be useful for verifying that users have logged in to the WISP’s network. In this case, this information may pertain to the locally-installed hardware for the WISP.

Here, this could be achieved through a private-key / public-key exchange setup where the successfully verified hotspots could at least be highlighted in a wireless network with a ?key” or green-light icon. If this system does also support the transmission of logo icons, the client device could also show a company logo for that hotspot host.

It can also work as a way of encouraging customers to be sure of where they are surfing the Web through. As well, a business could have a Windows 7 laptop or Blackberry smartphone that supports this kind of verification for public wireless networks to prohibit logging in to public wireless networks that don’t have this kind of verification.

The main issue with this is that independently-run cafes and bars may need to be able to have access to any certification setups at a modest price, preferably through a government business-support agency or their bank.


Once these issues are ironed out concerning the provision of public Wi-Fi Internet service to the hordes of users with notebooks, netbooks, smartphones and tablet computers, then they can use these services to full capability in a secure manner.

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At last a free iPhone app for controlling the UPnP AV / DLNA Home Media Network


Bergin-IT Gizmoot

Direct link to iTunes App Store

My comments

This happens to be the latest DLNA controller program for the iPhone or iPod Touch and is available for free from the iTunes App Store. This program also is ad-supported through the iAd network that exists for iOS software. At the moment, it isn’t designed to work well with the iPad.

The functionality is basic in that it allows you to browse your media on a DLNA (UPnP AV) media server and have it play on a DLNA (UPnP AV) Media Renderer. This would be considered basic compared to the likes of PlugPlayer in that it wouldn’t allow you to play the media from the Media Server through the iPhone, nor would it support downloading or uploading between the Media Server and the iPhone’s local storage.

It can support playlists and slideshows so you can have your Samsung TV or WDTV Live run a sequence of media under the control of your iPhone.

I would still recommend this app for people who want to get going with UPnP AV / DLNA “three-box” setups and they have equipment that can be controlled through a UPnP AV / DLNA control point. This would be more so with network AV media adaptors which you want to press in to service for audio playback and you don’t necessarily need to have the TV on so you can select music to listen to. You may even think of using this program with that iPod Touch or iPhone 3GS that you have set aside because you have moved to the ultra-cool iPhone 4, so that the old phone can be part of the DLNA Home Media Network.

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