Vodafone UK powers British Gas smart metering


Vodafone UK is working with British Gas to help Britons save money as well as reduce their energy use.

Vodafone UK will support British Gas in the roll out of smart metering in the UK. A multi-million pound contract will see Vodafone UK provide nearly 1 million GPRS connections within household meters to help families monitor the energy they use, leading to cost savings and reduced CO2 emissions.

Families will no longer need to wait in for someone to read their energy meter. Instead they will automatically receive a bill for exactly what they’ve used. Vodafone’s UK network can send real time energy use data from the in-home smart meter back to British Gas.

“As the UK’s best network we are always improving services to make our customers’ lives easier,” said Peter Kelly, Enterprise Director, Vodafone UK.

“We’re pleased to be working with British Gas on this trial to accelerate the roll-out of smart meters into British homes. Consumers can count on our fast, reliable network to help them manage their energy costs with British Gas and do their bit to help reduce carbon emissions.”

Vodafone UK rigorously manages its own environmental impact in order to contribute to the Vodafone Group target of reducing energy use and CO2 emissions by 50% by 2020, against the 2006/07 baseline.

In addition, Vodafone’s commitment to the privacy and security of customer data and its holding of the BS25999 continuity standard for both its 2G and 3G networks makes it an ideal partner for British Gas’ smart metering roll out.





Avatar director slams iPhone movie-watching


James Cameron, director of billion dollar hits such as Titanic and the recent 3D extravaganza Avatar, has dubbed the iPhone an unsuitable platform for watching his films.

In an interview with US cinema site Collider, Mr Cameron claimed that his movies’ lavish effects translate badly to mobile phone screens.

He said: “I don’t feel that I’m making movies for iPhones. If someone wants to watch it on an iPhone, I’m not going to stop them, especially if they’re paying for it, but I don’t recommend it.

“I think it’s dumb when you have characters that are so small in the frame that they’re not visible.”

Other members of Hollywood’s film-making A-list have criticised the use of mobile phones for watching movies in the past, including one particularly interesting rant from David Lynch, in which he laid into the iPhone on YouTube.

The directors’ ire is, however, unlikely to stop people downloading and paying for film content on their phones, particularly as many titles do not rely on explosions and motion capture technology to entertain the audience.



























Smartphone ownership to hit one billion


Analysts at Parks Associates have estimated that the growing popularity of smartphone technology amongst mainstream consumers will see advanced mobiles in over one billion pockets by 2014.

Social networking and simplified interfaces are making smartphones more appealing to a broader market and the younger demographic which currently buys into the technology will be joined by many others in the future, the group predicts.

Parks Associates’ Harry Wang said: “The diffusion of smartphones is accelerating, [and] as the base grows, users are becoming more heterogeneous in needs and use”.

In view of this trend, he urged network providers to take up low end smartphones and maximise their ability to profit from the surge in the popularity of the smartphone industry.

Those who are more interested in top-of-the-line technology will not be excluded by the expanding smartphone ranges offered by providers, Mr Wang anticipates, as it will be essential to cover all sections of the market

This latest report can be taken in conjunction with other recent studies which show that touchscreen technology is also growing exponentially – something that was highlighted by a Canalys paper published in February.





























Egypt bans VoIP services from operators such as Skype

peoples phone skype logo

Egypt has reportedly banned mobile calls made through services such as Skype.
Skype and other operators offering VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services bypass telephone networks in favour of offering free calls via the net.
Egyptian law states that all international calls must pass through state-owned Egypt Telecom. The ban reported by various news agencies, does not extend to voice calls made over fixed-line internet.
The ban applies to Egypt’s three mobile operators, Vodafone, Mobinil and Etisalat and came into effect at the weekend.
“The National Telecom Regulatory Authority issued a decision to stop VoIP and we stopped it on Saturday,” Khaled Hegazy, Vodafone Egypt’s external affairs director told AFP.
Skype has 500 million users worldwide. In a statement the firm said: “In general, we believe it should be up to consumers, not regulatory authorities, to choose the winners and losers in the communications space.”
Many mobile operators now offer Skype services, although it is still a relatively small market.
Egypt is not the first country to ban such services. Earlier in the month the United Arab Emirates said it would not give VoIP licenses to international companies such as Skype.

Apple to create iGroups social network


Appple has applied for a patent that will cover a variety of social networking functions on mobile phones, with the intention of creating its own iGroups platform for communication.

The iGroups platform will be unlike other social networking services in that it will be created and hosted by many small groups of iPhone users to help share information during press events, protests, concerts and pretty much any other gathering.

According to fan site Patently Apple, the Cupertino-based giant apparently filed for a patent to protect this functionality in the US last week.

It hopes that iGroups will let iPhone users communicate via messaging and through the provision of GPS data, although it will also let them transfer traditional social networking material such as photos and videos.

The iGroups platform is not expected to be an iPhone exclusive, but will be compatible with different smartphones in order to reach a wider audience.

Personal information, such as contact details and emails, will be able to flow between the members of an iGroup and Apple intends to integrate location-specific advertising in order to help fund the service.

In the patent application, Apple states: “Concert attendees in a group can be sent coupons to purchase music or other items related to the concert or invited to join a fan club of the performer, etc”.

Even if Apple is granted the patent, iGroups could theoretically remain a pipe dream, but it looks to be an appealing platform from the point of view of the user.

Observers have suggested that Apple could have been gearing up for the iGroups service for some time, as it has so far resisted location-based services from rivals on its own platforms, whilst buying up mapping firm Placebase in 2009.






























Phone apps to supersede CDs


A new report has predicted that in 2012 the sales figures and revenue generated by mobile application downloads will overtake audio CDs.

App download service GetJar has compiled the figures which suggest that current growth rates will see more than 50 billion mobile apps downloaded in 2012, compared to just seven billion last year.

The study estimates that the app market will be worth a total of £11.43 billion in 2012, whilst CDs will account for around £9 billion.

GetJar’s Iija Laurs said: “The consumer appetite for mobile apps is rocketing, [and] the opportunities for developers are huge.”

As smartphones catch up with computers in terms of power and functionality, the app download market is said to be destined for continued exponential growth.

The report suggests that more apps will be funded through integrated mobile advertising, which will be a departure from the current sales model which relies on user subscriptions or paid-for software.

GetJar believes that 28 per cent of apps will be supported with advertising in two year’s time.

The average app price in 2009 was £1.25, but nearly a third is expected to drop from this cost by 2012 as advertising is implemented more frequently.

50 per cent of apps sold in 2012 will originate from third party developers according to the report, with just 23 per cent of the total revenue generated by officially sanctioned apps promoted by network providers.






























Android set Chinese market take-over?


The conflict between Google and the Chinese authorities could be coming to an end after an official at the search firm said that Android could ‘flourish’ if given a chance in the Chinese mobile market.

Google’s Patrick Pichette issued his optimistic projection in an interview that was broadcast online.

He said: “All the carriers, all the handset providers can actually use the Android platform, [and] China is obviously another great market in which Android should flourish so we look forward to that.”

The row over search engine censorship has been running since January and at one point it looked as though Google was poised to make an exit from the Chinese market altogether.

In a recent article published by the Wall Street Journal, there were still questions surrounding Google’s commitment to continued operation in China.

It was suggested that the firm could still make an exit in the near future if the disagreements were not settled.

Mr Pichette was not willing to make a comment about Google’s future in China when he was interviewed earlier in the week.































Mood-altering mobile phone ringtones created


A new range of ringtones claiming to offer a diverse range of impulses to Japanese mobile phone lovers have arrived are apparently inspiring people to do more housework and improve their skin.

The so-called ‘therapeutic ringtones’ have become something of a craze in Japan, particularly amongst the younger generation who use the melodies to get over hangovers and even cure sleeplessness.

There is minimal scientific backing being given to these new ringtones, with nothing but the word of the head of the Ringing Tone Laboratory to support the wild claims being made for their calming powers.

Matsumi Suzuki is backing the therapeutic ringtones and his previous work in the manipulative powers of sounds has included a high-pitched mosquito-like noise that was developed to stop teens “congregating in parks at midnight” whilst remaining undetected by older members of the population.

Japanese mobile software developer Index told the Times: “The number of downloads suggests the ringtones must be working to a certain extent” However, since it is behind the marketing and retail of the tones, it cannot be said to be totally reliable.

Index has also been responsible for an iPhone app allowing users to convert the barking of their dog into words that the owner can understand. Bowlingual was another pseudo-scientific audio application which captured the imagination of consumers.

Two Japanese youngsters were encouraged to try out one of the therapeutic tones for the Times piece and the results were less than conclusive.

When listening to a tone that was aimed to encourage productivity in the face of daunting housework, the pair were not particularly impressed.

A mixture of techno, Schubert and animal sounds is combined to alleviate skin problems and according to one teen “it might subconsciously make you think of washing your face and that is good for the skin”.

The latest in the outlandish line-up of ringtones is an anti-hay fever track that is claimed to be able to dislodge the pollen from the sinuses of an afflicted listener.

Since each nasal cavity responds to different resonance, there are various versions of this tone on offer, although it could work just as well as a placebo regardless as to its real scientific merits.































How long will a phone’s battery last?

About batteries:
It’s difficult to give an exact estimate of how long a phone’s battery will last – battery life depends on the phone itself, how often you use it and what you use it for. Checking the following specifications on a phone gives you a guide on how long the battery will last:
Talk time – the maximum amount of time you’ll be able to make a call on your phone before the battery runs out.
Standby time – the maximum amount of time you’ll be able to have your phone turned on before the battery runs out.
Having facilities like Bluetooth or the internet turned on means your phone will drain your battery more quickly. Top of the range smartphones often do as much work as a laptop, so it’s no wonder that they need charging more often.
If a long battery life is very important to you, you might be better off opting for a more basic phone.

Nokia patents automatic phone charging


Nokia’s researchers has moved towards patenting new technology that will allow mobiles to draw energy from freely available radio waves.

As well as charging wirelessly, future Nokia smartphones could automatically top-up from the user’s movements, relying on the kinetic energy generated by walking and fidgeting to keep a mobile battery charged.

A patent application filed in the US would allow the Finnish handset giant to develop a mobile phone that never needs to be recharged from the mains without fear of the competition catching up in the meantime.

According to mobile tech site Symbian Freak, the potential for such a technology could be significant, allowing for phone ownership to be cheaper and to come with less of an environmental impact.

Portable devices of all kinds could eventually come with Nokia’s intelligent charging technology.

The basic principle behind the use of kinetic electricity generation in mobile phones will involve suspending the weightier hardware on rails within the casing.

Strips of electricity-generating crystals will produce power as the components move, compressing them and allowing the user to charge their phone as they take a stroll.