iPhone Doctor Who & Top Gear apps incoming


Games based on the Repton Old Boys Reunion, otherwise known as Top Gear, and Brit Sci-Fi classic Doctor Who are coming to the iPhone, following a deal between BBC Worldwide and Tag Games.

Due to hit Apple’s smartphone platform before Christmas, the Doctor Who title, dubbed Doctor Who: Mazes of Time, has reportedly gone down a storm with testers, suggesting that, for once at least, we might get something worthy of the mega licence.

According to The Courier, Tag Games has yet to release much in the way of gameplay details, but has let it be known the Doctor and his glam assistant Amy Pond are both playable characters.

Alas, detail about the Top Gear title is even thinner on the ground. However, if it’s not a driving game packed with wanton auto destruction, we’ll happily eat Clarkson’s eye-wateringly snug jeans and dodgy leather jacket.




Virgin Media considers setting up public wi-fi network


Virgin Media is considering a multi-million pound investment in a public wi-fi broadband network.

The company is “actively exploring” plans to exploit its super-fast broadband cable network to create tens of thousands of speedy wi-fi access points across the country.

Virgin is considering copying US rival Cablevision, which has rolled out public wi-fi access across swathes of New York. Cablevision joined with TimeWarner in the $300m (£187m) project which provides thousands of Wi-Fi broadband “hot spots” in areas where mobile phone companies are struggling to keep up with demand for 3G mobile internet access.

The incredible boom in data-hungry devices, such as Apple’s iPhone and iPad, has left mobile operators struggling to keep up with consumers’ desire for constant access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Kevin Baughan, Virgin’s director of advanced technology, said public wi-fi could be the solution. “We have been inspired by what Cablevision has been able to do in New York and are actively exploring the possibility of creating a similar network here,” he said. “It takes the sheer power of the cable broadband network and puts it where people need it.”

Mr Baughan said the service would work by placing broadband routers in secure public locations and connecting them to Virgin’s network kerbside green boxes. The service is expected to offer five megabits per second (mbps) wi-fi speeds compared to BT’s Openzone, which offers up to 8mbps but only if you stick close to one of its 3,900 hubs. BT also offers slower 0.5mbps BTFON access by allowing customers to piggyback on the home broadband of 1.9m of its customers.

Mr Baughan conceded all previous attempts to provide blanket wi-fi coverage to UK cities have failed to come to fruition, but said Virgin’s idea will succeed because it will provide coverage only where there is sufficient demand.

“Previous attempts were to fulfil a social objective. This is to solve a real problem,” Mr Baughan said. “Steve Jobs [chief executive of Apple] has created phenomenal demand, and we’ve got the best fibre [optic] network in the country that could help meet it.

“This isn’t about building broad coverage, it’s about giving you fast, predictable, access where you need it.”

Virgin is considering making the service available free of charge to its home broadband and Virgin Mobile customers. The general public would be able to access it on a pay-as-you go or subscription basis. A third option under consideration is to provide the service to whole communities via agreements with local councils.

The scale of investment needed may raise the eyebrows of Virgin’s investors as the company had previously made cutting its £5.7bn debt burden its top priority.


iPhone reigns supreme in customer satisfaction


Apple’s iPhone is still king when it comes to satisfying its owners, according to the latest market study.

A poll by the bean counters at ChangeWave Research has revealed that a whopping 77 per cent of iPhone owners are “very satisfied” with their blower. Motorola came second with a none-too-shabby 71 per cent, followed by RIM, which only managed to please 44 per cent of owners in the past six months.

ChangeWave also quizzed a total of 1,212 people if they would buy an iPhone if it was available on their preferred network in the US, where the handset is still exclusive to AT&T. Not too surprisingly, 34 per cent of the respondents said they would pick an iPhone over an HTC, Samsung, RIM or Motorola handset.

The figures clearly suggest a significant demand for the iPhone from customers of non-AT&T networks. The coveted smartphone has been long rumoured to be headed Verizon’s way, which is part-owned by Vodafone.

Fortunately, customers on our side of the pond have been able to pick up the iPhone 4 on multiple networks since Apple’s exclusivity deal with O2 ended with the iPhone 3G S.




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Angry Birds developer apologises to Angry Fandroids


Rovio, the makers of casual gaming phenom Angry Birds, has apologised to disgruntled Android users who have been experiencing problems running the game.

In a blog post, Rovio has asked for fans’ forgiveness for being “unsuccessful in delivering optimal performance” for low-end Android devices.

It turns out that older, less-powerful Android smarties such as the HTC Wildfire aren’t quite up to the task in running the physics-based puzzler smoothly. Some versions have been reported to display a black screen, while others fail to load up at all.

Rovio confirmed recently that it is working on a ‘lightweight’ version of the game. It said that it hesitated to create multiple versions of the game for the same platform to avoid over-stretching its resources. But after receiving feedback, it said it will continue to develop the lightweight version as a “favour” for the fans.

We definitely welcome Rovio’s determination to keep fans happy and to spread this amazing game to as many people out there as possible. However, we are also a bit saddened to see it having to apologise for a problem that is clearly Google’s fault more than anyone else.

Fragmentation continues to be a thorn on the side for Android no matter how well it is performing in sales. Eventually the frustration of users will catch up to its success and Google will have no choice but to follow Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 route and standardise the hardware requirements for using the operating system.



iPhone Twitter app gets push notifications


The official Twitter app for the iPhone has been spruced up with real-time push notifications.

This means that iPhone-owning fans of the micro-blogging phenom will be automatically notified every time someone one has mentioned their Twitter ID in a post.

Leland Rechis, product manager at Twitter mobile, wrote in a blog: “Whenever an account that you follow mentions you, you’ll immediately receive a notification.

“You’ll know who is talking to or about you on Twitter, and you’ll be able to continue the conversation in real-time.”

A future update will also add push notification for direct messages, which currently only works on Twitter for BlackBerry. Android and Windows Phone 7 updates will follow shortly.

Additionally, Twitter plans to extend the feature to text messages, so users can be notified of mentions via SMS, too.

The iPhone update is available for download right now from the iTunes Store.




BlackBerry to be dumped by US corporations


It seems that Research In Motion (RIM)’s smartphone woes are set to continue, as fresh reports of two more major corporations abandoning the BlackBerry range have come to light.

According to Bloomberg, both Bank of America and Citigroup are pondering a switch to Apple’s iPhone as the primary smartie for corporate email and are currently testing the iPhone’s security system with 1,000 employees, which may take up to six weeks.

If successfully tested, Apple’s premier blower could potentially replace the handsets of a collective 542,000 workforce and deal a massive blow to BlackBerry’s reputation for security, which is what has made it so popular with corporate users in the first place.

The smartphone giant has already lost support of computer giant Dell, which recently replaced 25,000 corporate smarties with Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7.

BlackBerry currently reigns supreme in market share stateside, but is facing stiff competition from Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platform. If Bank of America and Citigroup follow suit with Dell it may have a ripple effect onto other organisations.




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BlackBerry owners get iPlayer app


BlackBerry owners can now catch up with Eastenders and catch action from the Football League while they’re on the move, with the arrival of the BBC iPlayer app for select models of the messaging focussed handsets.

The app has been on the iPhone now for ages and with a sneaky around, on Android phones too, although it has yet to officially land on the platform.

Now BlackBerry types can join the party, provided you’ve got the BlackBerry Storm 2, BlackBerry Bold 9700 or the BlackBerry Torch 9800, that is.

However, unfortunately you’ll only be able to use 3G networks for streaming Auntie’s programming if you’re a monthly contract customer with 3 or Vodafone, which are the only carriers allowing it to be used over their networks.

Naturally that’s not to stop you using WiFi, but that does limit access rather.

The iPlayer app is available to download now free of charge from BlackBerry App World.





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iPhone Star Wars augmented reality game unveiled


Games behemoth THQ Wireless has showcased a new iPhone Star Wars game, offering would-be starpilots the chance to carry out raids on the Death Star in a galaxy far, far away or in their everyday surroundings.

Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner’s big USP is that it allows players to point the iPhone’s onboard camera at their surroundings and play out the game against that real-world backdrop.

Other than that it looks pretty similar to the likes of Trench Run – also from THQ – in the respect that it’s a shooter in the mould of the original Star Wars sit-in arcade number. But the twist this time out you’re in the Millennium Falcon rather than an X-Wing.

You’ll be able to get your hands on from around mid-November when it’s due to land in the App Store. Pricing is as yet unconfirmed, but we expect it’ll be in line with the £1.79 tax for THQ’s earlier Star Wars efforts.



iAndroid Twitter app gets update


The Twitter app for Android phones has been given a shiny new remix, offering Tweeters a much slicker social networking experience.

The new Twitter application, which coincides with the launch of a more radical update for the Facebook smartphone app, has been made significantly faster than before. Alongside this, the scrolling speed has been improved, so you’ll be able to run your way through the timeline quicker too.

Elsewhere, high-resolution avatars are now on offer, as is a swipe-to-reveal touchscreen command. And, in another nod to the iPhone edition of Twitter, a pull to refresh option has been added too.

Finally, there’s also a way better Tweet details page, which makes retweeting, clicking on links and replying to stuff a whole lot easier, and the option to quote a Tweet.

Alas, only Fandroids with tablets or smartphones running Android 2.1, AKA Éclair, or above will be able to use the new features. But the good news is that it’s available already from the Android Market and it’s free to download.





Apple sued over ‘iPhone to iBrick’ update


California-based iPhone 3G S owner has launched a legal action against Apple after the iOS 4.0 upgrade allegedly rendered her costly smartie unusable.

Briana Wofford filed a suit in the Superiro Court of California on October 29th, claiming that her handset was “virtually unusable” after she installed the update to the handset’s operating system.

The revamped phone apparently prone to constant crashes and turned into a “a device with little more use than that of a paper weight”.

Wofford’s complaint states: “Plaintiff estimates that after iOS 4 installation, she receives about 20 per cent of the functionality of the device as it behaved before with the earlier iOS 3.x system software and firmware.

“The true fact of the matter … is that the iOS 4 is a substantial ‘downgrade’ for earlier iPhone devices and renders many of them virtually useless ‘iBricks.’ “

News of her action is sure to reignite rather silly rumours that Apple deliberately pushed out a shonky update to its older phones last summer to give a fillip to sales of the latest, greatest iteration of its smartphone, the iPhone 4.

Soon after iOS 4 dropped, Apple rushed out a fix for problems with the earlier version. This included patches for over two security flaws, plus the meta-irritating performance problems with the 3GS and 3G.