Friday, October 31, 2008

Give Your Cell Phone Its Own Halloween Costume

In case you didn’t get the note, it’s Halloween. While most of your cell phone activity is limited to prank calling, directions and pictures you hope don’t find their way to Facebook on Halloween, why not dress it up a little and let your technological companion join in the fun. Hey, if people can do things like this to their pets, you can put a free Halloween theme on your phone. Check out the links below for some of the staff’s favorite free, Halloween-themed cell phone downloads.
funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals
Halloween Theme Pack (PocketPC) – Give everyone a rest from having to look at pictures of your kid or your dog on the front of your cell phone and download this theme pack to re-skin your interface with something a bit more festive.

Pocket Brains Halloween Edition – It’s the same memory game you grew up with but with a few tricks and treats added for Halloween. Okay, so in reality it’s not that cool, but if you’ve got kids then you’ll probably see some use out of it. Our opinion: Just download the free trial. It only includes four different boards, but that’s about how long your kids will play it before they get distracted by something shiny.

Halloween Themes for BlackBerry – Don’t worry BlackBerry users, we didn’t forget about you. BlackBerry Theme Park has a modest assortment of Halloween themes for you to download.

Well there’s a few to give you a head start before your evening festivities. Check ‘em out and get back to us on what you think. And if you find any additional ones out there, let us know. Happy Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Verizon’s BlackBerry Storm Launch Party

Verizon sponsored a pretty big event last night in LA to serve as the launch party for the BlackBerry Storm. While the Verizon phone itself doesn’t actually launch until Nov. 15, the event put four demo units in the hands of a few hundred lucky citizens in LA. Oh yea, did I mention the Foo Fighters were there as well? Sure, that might have boosted attendance a little (or a lot), but impressions of the phone were overall pretty high.

Ironically enough, there were very few actual BlackBerry users at the BlackBerry launch. Blogs noted a heavy dose of iPhones, BlackJacks and LG’s being used in line. I guess you can take that one of two ways: there aren’t very many BlackBerry users (which is highly unlikely considering it’s still the leading manufacuter in the U.S.) or, the more probable scenario, RIM has finally made a device to infiltrate the mainstream consumer market.

BoyGenius has the full report on the shindig with a complete suite of images to make you feel like you were actually there. Unfortunately, there’s no audio from the Foo Fighters concert, but we’ve included some YouTube-esque concert footage below so you can feel like you were there.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Samsung and Palm’s Offspring?

No, that’s not the Palm Centro with Windows Mobile. It’s Samsung’s latest offering in Europe and with a nod of approval from the FCC, we wouldn’t be surprised if it hit the other side of the pond as well.

Currently, it’s being billed as the Samsung C6620 and is listed as an exclusive phone to the Italian cellular provider TIM. Unlike the Epix, this phone doesn’t have a touchscreen, but it’s still a fully-capable smartphone running Windows Mobile 6.1. I’m guessing this could go to some of the other carriers as an alternative to AT&T’s exclusive Epix.

The inside’s pretty nice – basic but nice. The outside, like the Centro, is either love it or hate it. If you loved the design of the Centro, but you thought the keyboard was a little too cramped and hated the idea of using Palm’s antiquated OS, then this might just be the phone for you.

We’ll let you know as soon as we hear more about its stateside release. Until then, you’ll have to make do with the Palm Treo Pro.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BlackBerry Storm – What You Need to Know

The world’s rumbling about BlackBerry’s latest entry into the touchscreen world. Before you start camping out at your closest Verizon (or Bell), we thought we’d give you a quick rundown of why there’s so much hype behind “another” smartphone and why we’re so excited for November 15 (hopefully).
  • Click Through – BlackBerry’s answer to Apple’s multi-touch on the iPhone. While there is very little difference between “clicking” and navigating on an iPhone, BlackBerry wanted to make sure its users know the difference. With “Click Through” you have to physically lift your fingers and repress to make another selection. While it sounds more tedious, it’s actually quite responsive and significantly cuts down on the mis-strokes and lack of precision we had to get used to with the iPhone. Check out this video to see what we’re talking about.
  • SureType – Pearl users are used to SureType and its word-matching greatness and, luckily, it’s coming to the Storm. When the phone’s in Portrait mode and you are typing an e-mail, you can enable SureType to enlarge the keyboard buttons and cause fewer mistakes. Of course, you can also TYPE AN EMAIL IN LANDSCAPE MODE if you want. I’m sorry, was that in all caps? I wonder why…
  • BlackBerry Apps – BlackBerry’s third-party applications have never been as numerous as their competitors, but for what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality. BlackBerry apps have always been of the highest grade and their incorporation into the phone and the operating system is almost always flawless due to RIM’s stringent demands and standards. We’ve already discussed a new IM service that we’re excited to see coming to the BlackBerry app store and we can only expect even greater things to come.
  • “Tactile” Feedback – When you press something, the image on the screen pushes back and then rebounds like you actually just pushed that part of the screen in. Combined with the click sounds, it’s a great optical illusion that really makes you think you’ve pressed a physical button. While current touchscreen users may be used to not having it, I think this will make for a much easier transition for physical keyboard veterans. If you don't believe me, check out the world's worst customer-reaciton video below and watch people ooh and ahh...and chuckle nervously.

These are the four things we’re most interested in, but we can’t lie and say there aren’t any limitations. If you’re looking to view anything and everything on the Web then you might want to try and find an unlocked iPhone. While the browser’s improved from the Bold and BlackBerry’s past attempts, it’s still somewhat barebones compared to other offerings. Also, the lack of Wi-Fi will be a dealbreaker for a few people. This is a feature a lot of people expect in a high-end, top-tie smartphone, but sadly it’s not there on the Storm.

Be sure to check out the Verizon Web site for some great shots and feature explanations as well as more ridiculous marketing videos! How many of you are planning on lining up on launch day?

Samsung Epix Review Round-up

The Samsung Epix has landed on AT&T’s network and, with an increase in attention toward BlackJack’s supposed successor, the new phone is being labeled as a budget-minded iPhone/Palm alternative. With a touchscreen, a revised WM 6.1 Professional interface, 3G, Stereo Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS, the Epix looks like the must-have Windows Mobile smartphone from the carrier – but is it everything its name implies?

Reviews have it so-so. Most are saying it’s a great phone if you need one, but you shouldn’t throw out your old BlackJack or WM 6.1 device for it. The optical mouse is a vast improvement over the Omnia’s and the addition of Wi-Fi and the skinned, customizable homescreen is a nice facelift on the aging Windows Mobile platform. The downside? The frame seems a bit cheaper than the previous BlackJack’s and the keyboard has some stiffness that may or may not ease with extended use. We love its support for 32GB microSD cards by the way, even though the card would cost more than the phone.

Check out the reviews below for a more extensive run down of Samsung’s latest addition to AT&T’s lineup.

CNET's Review

WMExperts' Review

InfoSync's Review

PocketNow's Epix/Palm Treo Pro Comparison

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cox Communications Emerges as a Wireless Provider

We were wondering what Cox was up to when it bought a pretty large block of the 700MHz spectrum this year. Their promise of a “differentiated product” was a little too vague to demonstrate what they truly meant by the purchase. Well, they’ve clarified things a bit, and it looks pretty intriguing.

Hoping to revive its stint as a mobile carrier in the 90s, Cox is integrating a cellular network into its host of services, including Internet, cable, television, radio and print media. Cox is planning on incorporating a slew of features to differentiate its network from other providers including automatic address book synchronization (without the need for an Exchange server), remote DVR programming, email/voicemail access as well as, possibly, the ability to watch your own cable TV straight from your handset.

Cox’s 6 million subscribers may not be enough to give the cable provider a substantial market position; however, this is definitely a movement that we’d like to see with other carrier/television providers. AT&T’s already got a complete suite with U-Verse, it would be nice to have a solution like this incorporated into its handsets. It seems like they’re pretty chummy with DirecTV as well, which couldn’t hurt things. Industry heavyweights, such as Comcast and AOL/Time Warner, could also have a pretty substantial impact in this area if they start throwing their weight around, too.

Of course, we’re always up for new capabilities and services for our phones, but how about seeing some basic features come back to our phones? All of these companies provide landline phone services, so how about adding some Caller ID features to our cell phones while they’re at it?

Bell, Solo Release Phone Details for Q4

The guys over at Boy Genius have done it again, this time convincing the team over at Bell to put some dates on the lineup of phones launching before 2009 – and what a list it is! While Solo’s lineup is a bit thinner, the inclusion of unlimited SMS on all voice plans over $25 makes it worth a second look as Bell’s value-minded brand.

It’s starting to look like our Canadian readers have at least one more serious option this holiday season. And before you ask, that’s not a typo; Bell really is getting both the Diamond and the Touch Pro. If you’re unfamiliar with Canada’s third-place cellular provider, they’re like Sprint except for the fact that they’re in Canada and they don’t waste their time trying to bash Google’s Android. Check out some of the juicy details below or click here for a complete run through from Boy Genius.

Bell/Solo Launch Details

  • BlackBerry Storm debut – November 21st
  • HTC Diamond – “early” November with 4GB internal memory
  • HTC Touch Pro – “early” December
  • Monthly roll-over minutes!
  • Unlimited SMS and Voicemail – $15
  • Ability to have data plan without voice plan
  • Unlimited SMS on voice plans over $25 – Solo

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Palm OS Sighted

Well it’s been years in the making, but we’re finally seeing images of what we believe to be Palm’s new operating system. Sure the iPhone-esque aesthetic doesn’t exactly scream new anymore since it’s been replicated in a dozen other phones, but any update to Palm’s aging platform is great news to us.

Access, the developer behind the new operating system, hopes to deliver ALP by late 2009, which is right in line with an earlier announcement this month from Palm that we’d be seeing a new operating system in about 18 months. Dumbphone and low-end smartphone users also can expect to see a mini version of the operating system on select phones, albeit with a few of the utilities cut out I’m sure.

What’s our verdict? The screenshots look interesting, and it’s always nice to see an update for the aging Palm platform, but I do worry if Palm will even have enough support in the industry in 18 months for this to be worthwhile. The other problem is ALP. The operating system has never actually found its way to a handset in North America. With a constant slew of derailments and delays, the OS has taken a back seat to another Linux-based operating system you might have heard of – Google’s Android. Check out the before and after pics below to see what all the fuss is about.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Five Great Smartphones Under $100

Times are rough and we all have to make sacrifices to increase savings and cut down spending. Fortunately for us, as newer models come out for smartphones, the price on older models is dropping considerably. Though you may have to sacrifice a touchscreen, these smartphones will still give you plenty of bang for your buck and you don’t have to sacrifice any of the essential smartphone features by settling with a basic cell phone that happens to have a QWERTY keypad aka dumbphones.

  1. BlackBerry Curve – It’s not the Bold, but it’s still a great phone. Those willing to sacrifice either 3G or Wi-Fi (depending on the carrier) can still get a great phone that ranges from $80 to $100. Different carriers carry a rendition of this phone, but each one has different capabilities. T-Mobile’s goes for $99.99 and has Wi-Fi, but lacks 3G and GPS. Sprint and AT&T give you GPS but you don’t get 3G and they don’t have Wi-Fi. You can get it from AT&T for $79.99 and Sprint for $99.99.

Rumor has it that AT&T is launching a new version of the Curve with Wi-Fi support alongside the Bold, although pricing details haven’t been released. We’re hoping for a sub $150 price point, but wouldn’t be surprised by $199.

  1. Samsung BlackJack II/Ace – They aren’t exactly the same phone, but they’re close enough. Both run off WM 6 and are based off Samsung’s BlackJack line. The big differences are that the BlackJack II has a 2 MP camera (the Ace only has a measly 1.3 MP) and the Ace has a slightly better battery life. Also, the Ace has an optical mouse in the center area for directing around while the BlackJack uses a scroll wheel and center button a la iPod. Also, the BlackJack comes in a few different colors while the Ace is only available in black. The choice comes down to your favorite carrier. The BlackJack II ($79.99) is exclusive to AT&T and the Ace ($99.99) is exclusive to Sprint.

If you’re too impatient for a mail-in-rebate, snag a refurbished BlackJack II from AT&T for $49.99

  1. Palm Centro – Considered by many as the best smartphone for first-time users, the Palm Centro combines trendy aesthetics with a simplistic interface. While the Palm operating system itself has aged quite a bit and won’t wow anyone with its brilliant visuals or stunning animations, it remains one of the easiest and intuitive systems you can use. The keyboard can get a bit cramped for “thicker” fingers, but its touchscreen makes up for it. You can purchase this one off of AT&T and Verizon for $99.99 or Sprint for $69.99.

Like the BlackJack II, if you’re never going to actually mail in the mail-in rebate, then go to AT&T’s online store and get a refurbished one for $49.99.

  1. Touch by HTC – If you’re on Sprint or willing to make the jump, you can get in on the touchscreen craze with the Touch by HTC. Going for just $49.99 after the $200 instant savings and the $100 mail-in rebate, this is a great deal on an adequate phone. While it won’t be winning any design awards and it was welcomed by mediocre reviews, this is still a great PocketPC for the price. It’s running WM6.1 and its got HTC’s patented TouchFLO technology so you’re not missing out on any features.

  1. Motorola Q9C – If you like the features of Samsung but hate its aesthetics, consider one of the Motorola Q’s. Like the Curve, each carrier seems to have its own rendition of the Q9 series, although Sprint and Verizon are the only two that have the Q9C which goes for under $100. The Q9C is a fully-featured smartphone, although it is lacking in 3G or Wi-Fi. What it lacks in data speeds, it makes up for in additional software. With a complete copy of Documents to Go and the Opera browser, Motorola went to great lengths to ensure you had a complete office suite at your fingertips. We’ve covered both of these products before if you’re interested in learning more about what makes them special.

BlackBerry Introduces Push Instant Messaging

While Nokia made the announcement that it’s turning away from enterprise support and moving towards mainstream consumers, it seems like BlackBerry is the one actually doing something. RIM’s latest onslaught of applications are really pushing the business smartphone manufacturer into the mainstream market and IM+’s latest creation looks to propel them even further.

IM+ and BlackBerry teamed up to shoot out a new, first-of-its-kind IM application that will push instant messages straight to your e-mail, allowing you to respond in an e-mail format. The reply then gets pushed back in the same format as the instant messaging service, and the receiver is none the wiser.

We discussed IM+ in our list of favorite instant messaging applications for Windows Mobile phones a few weeks ago, although this development shoots it to the top of our list. Having all the benefits of an IM program on your phone without

having to leave it running in the background and draining my battery all day is pretty nifty. At roughly $50, the program’s certainly not cheap, but if you’re an IM-aholic, check out the seven-day free trial and see if it’s worth it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cell Phone Technology Continues to be Nuance’d

Gone are the days of voice commands, such as “call mom,” on your cell phone. These days you can talk to your phone naturally to retrieve information from your mobile Web browser. Nuance has created a mobile application called Open Voice Search that transforms a spoken phrase into text using voice recognition software. The text is then entered into a search engine and the results are sent to you on your mobile browser. You can search for a person’s phone number out of a white pages search, find ringtones for your phone or find driving directions from the phone’s navigation tools or from online maps.

Rumor has it that Open Voice Search will be available on T-Mobile and Verizon, since the new technology was shown off using these two carriers’ branded phones, but no official announcement has been made. I’m not sure if this application adds to the preconception that we’re a lazy society or if it exemplifies how new advances can simplify our lives and make us more efficient. What I am sure of is that I can’t wait to chat with my phone instead of just on my phone!

Cellular Caller ID Available to MetroPCS, All Carriers

MetroPCS, a small cellular carrier available in eight states, including California, Florida and Texas, announced last week a caller ID service available to its customers. This service, named Screen-it, lets users know who is calling, even when the caller’s information is not stored in the contacts list. MetroPCS, which hired a third-party developer to create the service, is the first carrier to provide a caller ID service, which they claim will work on 80 percent of calls.

We agree it’s about time caller ID services came to the mobile phone industry, but MetroPCS’s service seems redundant to Privus Mobile’s launch in August. Privus Mobile works with all carriers, including the big providers, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. Privus Mobile’s caller ID service provides customers with previously unknown names and numbers 95 percent of the time and enables users to store new contact information with just a push of a button.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Wednesday Social – Tweeting with Pictures

While I still find it difficult to let the world know what I’m doing in 140 characters or less, Twitter has taken the social networking world by storm. It is an unfettered, simple way of keeping in-touch without the hassles of punctuation or articles. And with a simple shortened URL, you can share pictures and Web sites with all of your friends (known and unknown) from wherever you are. Windows Mobile has numerous Twitter applications, but there are three we think are worth shaking a stick at.

Twitpic is a picture function that allows you to attach a URL to a Twitter post that houses a photo you wish to share with your friends and followers. Twitpic itself is not a mobile application, although you can access it from any Web browser. There are some Windows Mobile applications that do support Twitpic as a feature, including Tiny Twitter and ceTwit. Tiny Twitter and ceTwit are both applications that use your data plan instead of your text messaging to send tweets, check your friends’ feeds, check reply and direct messages and include pictures in your tweets. Tiny Twitter also includes Geolocation, enabling you to pinpoint your exact location when you send tweets.

TwitterCam is similar to Tiny Twitter and ceTwit, but uses its own picture-uploading abilities (separate from Twitpic). TwitterCam was authored as a program specifically meant to send picture tweets, rather than supporting pictures with other Twitter functions.

Whichever application you use, you can pack a punch into 140 characters, whether it be with a sentence, phrase, word or picture (they’re known to be worth a 1,000 words—and since a word is on average five characters, that 5,000 characters, or at least 35 tweets).

And to the Highest Bidder goes… A Yet to be Released BlackBerry Bold?

BlackBerry fans have been waiting – and waiting – for the supposed summer-release of the BlackBerry Bold on AT&T. They grew angered with its European release, then relieved as it was recalled due to numerous bugs and glitches. However, the impatience is back, particularly now that the end is in sight. We know that the Bold will be released Nov. 4 (a Tuesday, for those of you counting down the days and weeks), but for one lucky (and outrageously high) bidder, the official, AT&T branded BlackBerry Bold will come a little bit sooner. eBay user underworldkid in New York City (feedback rating: 2, 100 percent positive) has listed an unboxed Bold that has about a day left in auction (it ends at 5:23:01 p.m. Pacific on Oct. 23). The bidding began at $500 and is already up to $730. The phone is unboxed, touched by human flesh, and it’s still pulling close to half of what underworldkid paid for it. Not to mention, anybody with eBay experience knows that all of the exciting, last-minute desperation bidding is yet to come.

Other than being amazed at the potential moolah underworldkid stands to earn from the sale, I have two thoughts. First, I really hope the Bold lives up to its hype and is worth every shiny cent the winner pays for it. Second, how can I get in on this gig? Anyone out there with yet-to-be-released phones I can sell? I have a 100 percent feedback rating, too!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Latest in Affordable Smartphone Options

The dawn of smartphone affordability is upon us. For the thrifty cell users, AT&T's newest smartphone, Samsung Epix, goes easy on the pocketbook. Epix has a lot of great features, including Windows Mobile 6.1 with 3G, bluetooth, WiFi, GPS and simultaneous voice and data capabilities (yep! Privus Mobile will work on this one!). For you phone paparazzi, the 2 megapixel camera enables picture and video sharing. It also comes with a QWERTY keyboard, touchscreen display and optical mouse, for multiple input and selection options. At just $99.99 with contract, customers can head to their couch cushions for this affordable phone. The Epix is looking like a great option for first-time smartphone users or a great gift for the gadget-ly inclined on your holiday shopping list.

As always, if you've already gotten your new Samsung Epix, we look forward to your first impressions and reviews.

Do you have the T-Mobile G1 Jitters?

If you're tapping your toes and twiddling your thumbs impatiently waiting for the T-Mobile G1 to be released (at 8 a.m., Wednesday), here are two suggestions to tide you over.
  • For the fiscally secure, catch a flight out to San Francisco, where G1s will be sold at the T-Mobile corporate headquarters a full 14 hours before all other T-Mobile stores. Go stand in (a really long) line and get your phone today!
  • For the more monetarily challenged individuals, check out this new rap video released by the folks over at The video is clever and fun, and if you play it enough, you might be able to make the time between now and tomorrow morning fly by.
For those after the early-bird special, let me know how long the lines are when you wake up at 3:00 a.m. to get to your T-Mobile store. First impressions would be appreciated, too.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cell Phone Power Rankings: Best of September 2008 Edition

You might love your cell phone, but does the rest of the free world? Depends on the type of heat your phone’s packing. Avian Research L.L.C. completed a monthly retail store survey, polling 100 service representatives at stores nationwide to find out what the consumers are demanding. RIM smartphones have held the top spot the last few months, and their domination continues with the Blackberry Curve taking Numero Uno for September. Apple’s iPhone and LG’s Dare took home silver and bronze, respectively. That’s a significant difference from NPD’s September findings, which listed the Motorola Razr V3 as the top-selling handset. Seemed like there was something kind of odd about the Razr V3 being the top phone. I mean, c’mon, the V3 is older than Methuselah in phone years. I know they’re popular, but still … .

Avian also mentioned that half of the Top 10 devices are smartphones, and four of the top six devices feature touchscreens. Evidently, people are getting extra “touchy” with their new phones. Is your phone on the list?

Avian Research’s Top 10 Most Popular Handsets
1. RIM Blackberry Curve
2. Apple iPhone
3. LG Dare
4. RIM Blackberry Pearl
5. LG Voyager
6. Samsung Instinct
7. LG Rumor
8. LG Shine
9. Palm Centro
10. Nokia 5310

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fun Friday: Sketching on your Smartphone

When I was much younger and even to this day, doodling and sketching have been a part of my everyday life. What started out as a pencil-on-paper distraction quickly made its way onto the computer after I discovered MS Paint. Laugh if you’d like, but there is something uniquely satisfying about using that pixilated paintbrush to tell a story. My doodling has finally caught up to my mobile world with the influx of drawing and sketching applications available on smartphones. And to indulge my artistic and creative side, this Fun Friday blog will inform you where to go to do some free mobile doodling of your own.

For Windows Mobile users, Mobile Sketcher is an application that lets you doodle on both blank pages (create your own from scratch) or on pictures already on your device. You can draw yourself into a beautiful landscape or put a funny face on a friend. All that’s left to do is save the picture and forward it to your friends. With Mobile Sketcher, however, you are limited both in your sketching tools and the colors you can use. Check out a video of Mobile Sketcher in action below.

iPhone has several sketching and doodling applications available in its Apps Store, but the best of the free choices in my opinion is iDoodle Lite. iDoodle Lite is similar to MS Paint’s capabilities with more color and tool options, as well as different types of pens and shapes that can be drawn. These pictures can be saved and sent to others or set as your phone’s wallpaper. You can also replay the drawing of your photo from start to finish.

If a game is more your style, there is a rather unique application called Sketcher for BlackBerry phones. The application uses rudimentary graphics (instead of doodling yourself, it looks like someone else has) and requires you to help a hand-drawn character maneuver through obstacles by “drawing” in slopes, bridges and jumps, although drawing requires a push of a button rather than any real skill with a mouse or touchscreen. This game doesn’t come free like the rest of our sketch-related applications, but you can download the app for less than $10. Need more convincing? Sketcher has been consistently rated as one of the most fun mobile games on the market.

No matter if you’re drawing a masterpiece or just whiling away the time, sketching apps are sure to inspire creativity and put a smile on your face, no matter your age. And to end this week in Fun Friday tradition, see what you can draw on your phone inspired by this week’s song by The Fall.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Smartphones Creating and Editing Documents

What is the next step toward your mobile phone replacing your notebook computer? Creating and editing documents on-the-go. If you’re using Windows Mobile, this is a luxury that you’ve had access to for quite some time. But any user on Windows Mobile, Palm OS, Symbian or BlackBerry platforms can open and edit documents from your smartphone. This technology not only increases mobility and ease of travel, but also increases productivity and efficiency.

Microsoft Office Mobile is available for Windows Mobile phones and allows users to access Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. Editing services are available for Word and Excel. Microsoft Office Mobile is available for $49.95.

Office Suite Classic 7 and Office Suite Professional 7 are available for Palm OS users, providing the same services as Microsoft Office Mobile, with the Professional suite allowing picture editing as well as document editing. Palm's Office Suite Classic 7 and Professional 7 can be purchased for $29.95 and $69.95 respectively.

BlackBerry and iPhone are alike in that they do not have their own services that offer document editing. BlackBerry does have its Attachment Service, which allows users to view Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, as well as pictures and PDF files. iPhone users have a similar experience in that they can also access documents, but not edit them. BlackBerry does have a distinct advantage, however, in that perhaps the most popular document editor, Documents To Go, has recently added BlackBerry to its list of compatible devices. Documents To Go is available on BlackBerry, Palm OS, Windows Mobile and Symbian and gives users access to Word, Excel and PowerPoint, with editing capabilities for all three. It also grants the ability to open compressed files and zip and send large documents. Documents To Go Premium Edition is available for $29.00.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Wednesday Social: What’s the Future of Social Networking?

We’re not asking if there is a future for social networking. That much is clear. We’re not even asking if there is a future for mobile social networking. With smartphone technology, social networking using your mobile device is a given. But what is going to happen to social networking as we know it? A Saturday New York Times article voiced what many of us have been thinking for a long time – the end is near for many social networking sites.

The trend in social networking sites has been and continues to be growth and expansion into new demographics and with new tools. The successful sites are creating applications, games and tools that make keeping in touch with friends and peers easy and efficient (such as having mobile applications or at the very least, mobile-friendly Web sites). Successful sites have also found niches, such as LinkedIn for business and professional networking, MySpace for bands and other performers and Facebook for students. Increasing revenue has not been a primary goal for many sites, with creators and executives believing that profits can and will come after developing an audience. While this will hold true for the leaders of the pack, other social networking sites are likely to fall into oblivion, and soon.

It will be interesting to see who survives and who fails, and which sites will be able to turn a profit in an over-expanded population of sites all fighting for the last piece of pie. I’d be willing to wager that the winners will have as many bases covered as possible, including mobile applications that allow users to access their friends wherever, whenever.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Getting Xtremely Xcited About the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1

These eyes bear witness to a lot of phones. I like the majority of what’s out there, but there are a few I wouldn’t touch with a 10-inch phone antenna. One phone that catches my fancy is the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1. When trying to imagine the perfect smartphone, save your brain fuel and behold – Sony Ericsson painted you a masterpiece with the X1.

The X1 has a super-sleek design with modern casing, unobtrusive buttons (at first glance, I thought they were decorative accents) and a 3-inch crystal-clear, Wide VGA touchscreen display. For those touchscreen keyboard-haters, the X1 let’s you slide out the full QWERTY with metal finish. The phone is GPS-enabled, allows you to link contacts to pictures, maps, phone numbers and SMS, and with its TWO cameras – that’s right, you phone paparazzi – taking snapshots, videos or participating in a video call has never been easier. Music, calendars and the Internet can be accessed with the touch of a button, and when you don’t want to use the touchscreen for scrolling, employ the optical joystick.

My only issue (and believe me, it’s minor) is the home screen. It houses nine panels that are easily added or removed, but I prefer the scrolling home screen of the iPhone that provides me with any button I might need. I can't complain too much though. It's a great, refreshing look at an aging platform (Windows Mobile 6.1). We haven't seen a U.S. launch date for the X1 just yet, but as soon as it crosses our international borders and hits the shelves, prepare for it to be smothered by yours truly.

Monday, October 13, 2008

FACT or FICTION: Windows Mobile Running on iPhone 3G?

Big news this morning in the mobile world: Norwegian Erik Kristiansen has managed to get Windows Mobile on an iPhone 3G. According to the video below, Kristiansen has enabled iPhone users to choose between an Apple or Windows Mobile operating system upon turning on the phone. In my experience, there are two types of iPhone users, although they are not mutually exclusive. There are those who are Apple loyalists (and these users probably have zero interest in applying Windows Mobile to their iPhone) and those who like the usability of the iPhone, which has been often-noted as the smartphone most fun to use. There are doubtless numerous individuals who would love to have Windows Mobile running on their iPhone, giving them the ability to cut/paste and run programs in the background, among other perks. If this breakthrough holds true, Windows Mobile-exclusive applications and services on the 3G iPhone could be just an unlocked iPhone away from becoming a reality.

What do you think about Windows Mobile on an iPhone? Does it increase the value of the phone or undermine all that is good about Apple’s often-imitated device? One thing’s for sure – if Kristiansen’s modifications are correct, the iPhone could be getting a makeover by a lot of users.

25th Anniversary of the First Cell Phone Call

On Oct. 13, 1983, the very first call from a commercially available cell phone was made from Ameritech executive Bob Barnett to Alexander Graham Bell’s grandson. The first call was made on the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, a phone that boasted 30 minutes of talk time and a static-filled sound due to its 1G analog signal. We’ve obviously come a long way in 25 years, but it is amusing (and amazing) to look back at what used to be. Considering the first “mobile phone” weighed 90 pounds, even the Motorola brick was a huge leap forward. Even with all the fantastic breakthroughs made to the mobile technology, we’re still lacking in many of the basic features offered on landline phones. Luckily, true Caller ID service to your smartphone is now available. With mobile technology’s exponential growth, we’re hopeful that within the next 25 years, mobile technology will not match, but exceed landline capability.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Friday News Round Up

A lot of interesting stories and rumors have been circulating today, and just so you don’t have to visit 10 different sites to get the information, we thought we’d catalog it right here for you. In no particular order (because how can you order stories like these?), check out today’s big stories!

Orange, the first European carrier to carry the new BlackBerry Bold, has now decided to pull the Bold from their lineup until they can get some software issues worked out. Some of the problems included: restarting issues, java errors, battery life issues, screen issues and problems with memory leakage. Meanwhile, AT&T is probably pretty proud of themselves after all the flack they received when pushing back the Bold’s release date because it couldn’t pass their quality and testing standards. It seems caution wins the day, at least today.

While the Bold seems to be having a few problems, RIM still has the enormous draw of the Storm to fall back on. Apparently, RIM is hoping to capitalize on the yet-to-be-released Storm. Rumors and reports have spread announcing that the smartphone manufacturer has ramped-up research and development of a new “super-phone” (meant to rival HTCs Touch-HD perhaps?). Does that mean a Storm II or Storm III? I think they should name one Thunder and the other Lightning.

Speaking of RIM, with stocks down from $148 to $60 in about four months, the hot rumor today is of Microsoft’s interest in buying the Canadian company. This isn’t the first time this rumor has been bandied about, but it’s probably the first time anyone has taken it seriously. Analysts are predicting Microsoft will offer roughly $50 per share for RIM.

A day in cell phone news wouldn’t be complete without a new phone rumor. A potential new LG phone could be launched on AT&T in the coming months. What’s unique about this LG is its Windows Mobile 6.1 platform, sleek metal casing with mirrored touchscreen and a 3 megapixel camera with autofocus. Picture the LG’s Prada, but with Windows Mobile in the background. The phone, so far named Incite, is still looking for a release date, but we’re hoping it’s not too far off as we’re hungry for another touchscreen smartphone from AT&T.

Mozilla should be releasing its first alpha version of Firefox Mobile next week, which has a lot of people on the edge of their seats. While this release will most likely be very limited, not to mention will probably be followed by several more alpha releases before being released in beta, the majority of us will have to keep our eyes and ears tuned to any news and reviews while we wait for its release. Let the Firefox and Skyfire comparison begin!

Along with the re-naming of several other unreleased devices and the usual slew of reviews, this wraps up the news today. It’s definitely an exciting time to be a part of the emerging technology in the mobile market. And if you’re just a bystander, you’ve got a pretty good show to watch!

Don’t forget, here on the Mobile Caller blog, it’s Fun Friday. So we’re going to send you out with one of our favorite call-centric videos. I think you all know this number.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Smartphone Security – How Safe is Our Information?

By now, you probably know my stance on smartphone—it’s easily the greatest technology in recent history and I am counting the days (weeks, months, years) until my phone is the only device or object I need to carry with me to get through normal day-to-day activities. I want it to be my computer when I travel, my credit card when shopping or eating, my entertainment when I’m bored, even my keys when I drive or get home. All of the while, I want it to still do what a phone has always done and I want it all done safely and securely.

This is where it gets tricky. The way things stand right now, we have virtually no security on our phones, not when you compare them to how stringently we secure our home and office networks and computers. The October 6 issue of Information Week featured a cover boasting smartphones as “your next computer” and had two smartphone-centric articles—one about smartphone adoption among businesses and another about smartphone security. The first article focused on applications necessary to make a device an acceptable alternative to notebooks, as well as the security risks and hurtles that IT departments face when “doing business” on a smartphone. The second article, a part of a Rolling Review series, goes more in depth into the specific problems that can be expected from smartphones’ lack of security and ways IT departments can begin to combat the impending problems.

If a phone is going to be the all-in-one device I want it to be, it’s going to have to do its best to guarantee my work and personal life are safe from the types of predators we’ve seen since information exchange over the Internet became popular. We’ll have to keep our eye on this Rolling Review as well as those who are controlling the security to ensure our safety. I’m not resting until I’m driving along in my phone-igniting car and using voice-recognition software on my phone to create a new blog entry, which will be posted to the Internet via the worldwide wireless networks available. Hey, it’ll happen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mobile Predictions for 2010

The year 2010 is both right around the corner and light years away. As 2008 nears an end, the reality is that 2010 is little more than a year away, but with the leaps and bounds technology has taken in the past years, who knows what we can expect from the mobile industry when the second decade of the 21st century begins? Here are some of my favorite predictions:
  • GPS as a standard feature – I have no doubt that this is a valid prediction for 2010. I don’t consider myself a geographically or directionally challenged individual, but there is something comforting about turn-by-turn directions. Before I had my own GPS-enabled devices, I spent months calling my friends and family riding shotgun “Tom Tom” in hopes that they’d know what to do when I was in an unfamiliar area. GPS on our cell phones lets us truly be mobile on our mobile, and who doesn’t want that?
  • Touchscreens will be the norm – As a loyal user of a touchscreen phone, I can see the appeal of this prediction. Particularly with some of the recent news about the swipe technology, which will reportedly make touchscreen typing even easier, I don’t think touchscreens will lose their popularity. On the other hand, there is something to be said about a QWERTY, so I think only time will tell if this prediction will come true.
  • 3D holograms will enter the market – That’s right. I’m predicting that 3D projections from cell phones will take off and be embedded in many devices. The degree of technical advancement differs depending on who you might ask. It might be a pico-projector, a miniature version of a media projector you might find in your conference room or home theater, or you may be able to impose a 3-D version of yourself into a room to give a speech when you’re three states over. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
We can make educated guesses all we want about what we’ll find in 2010, but an educated guess is still a guess, and it’s unlikely we’ll see a slowdown in the mobile market in the coming years. I can’t wait to see which predictions come true! To see more predictions like these, click here.

The Wednesday Social – Mobile Social Networking Hubs

Last month, AT&T and Verizon Wireless announced the latest in mobile social networking applications – one-stop hubs called My Communities and SocialLife, respectively. These apps both run on Intercasting Corp.’s Anthem platform. Intercasting is a mobile media company that has contracts with the top mobile carriers – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Boost, Virgin, T-Mobile UK and CSL Asia.

My Communities gives AT&T users access to MySpace, LiveJournal, Xanga, Photobucket and Rabble (a mobile-only community). Additionally, culture-specific social networking sites can also be linked, including AsianAve, BlackPlanet, MiGente, FaithBase, and GLEE, a gay and lesbian-based site. While using the application, users can view messages, check friend requests, post comments, check status updates and leave status messages/blog posts of their own. The application also can access the phone’s camera to automatically upload photos to the social networking sites. My Communities is available by subscription for $2.99 per month.

SocialLife offers the same experience as My Communities, except to Verizon Wireless users. One notable exception is that it lacks access to Xanga (a journal-based blogging site) and replaces it with MTV Tr3s. Verizon customers can participate in the service for $1.49 per month.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

News Round-up on BlackBerry – What Can We Expect?

BlackBerry phones and applications have been occupying much of the news lately. Not only are we still hearing (a lot) about the Bold and the Storm, but BlackBerry announced two app centers for its users.

First, the Research In Motion CEO announced that RIM’s top-of-the-line BlackBerry Bold is being delayed from its release on AT&T’s network in hopes that it can avoid the same glitches experienced by iPhone 3G users earlier this year. Meanwhile, advertising for the BlackBerry Storm, to be released on Verizon’s network, is ramping up. The first of the television advertising is scheduled to hit CBS primetime tonight. This leaves consumers wondering which will appear first: AT&T with the Bold or Verizon with the Storm? It should be an exciting race!

Meanwhile, two application stores have been announced for BlackBerry phones. The first, the BlackBerry Application Center, is the official application store for RIM and will work for new BlackBerry phones like the Storm. Similar to the Apple Apps Store, BlackBerry and its carriers must approve apps sold inside the store. The other app store, more interestingly named BerryStore is an unaffiliated store for BlackBerry users. Its unique name comes along with a unique characteristic—it will provide applications for all BlackBerry phones, not just the new ones.

Finally, for all of you BlackBerry users with a Mac at home, a BlackBerry Media Sync is soon to be available for you. You’ll be able to have all the perks the PC users have been enjoying since July.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Privus Mobile Named Best BlackBerry Evolution Application by Handango

We’re incredibly pleased to announce that out of a collection of over 140,000 mobile applications available on Handango, Privus Mobile was chosen as the winner of the Best BlackBerry Evolution. The award was part of the 2008 Handango Champion Awards. In less than three months since our launch, we’ve already been recognized by the industry’s leading cell phone software distributors as one of the most evolutionary programs for the BlackBerry. The award was given based on our outstanding customer feedback, sales, product marketing and product quality.

For those just getting to know us, Privus Mobile’s Caller ID service for cell phones displays callers’ names and numbers on the display screen for all incoming calls – not just those in your contacts. Privus Mobile stood out as an application that makes its users’ lives easier and more productive as it takes the guesswork out of incoming and missed calls. From business professionals to college socialites, Privus Mobile is happy to assist with simplifying the management of your contacts, an accomplishment we’re proud to say is worthy of a Handango Champion Award!

Greg Smith Discusses Cellular Caller ID’s Impact on Corporations in EMQ

President of Privus Mobile Greg Smith shared some interesting thoughts on how mobile caller ID is affecting corporate environments in Enterprise Management Quarterly today. Greg mainly discussed how critical cell phones have become in the modern workplace and how the increasing pace of the workplace has made every call count. Cellular caller ID allows access to a new generation of prepared workers, no longer forced to face indecision, and possible losses, when they miss a call from a number not stored on their list.

Privus Mobile will identify 95 percent of unknown callers (more than most landline Caller ID services) and will store the new names and numbers into the phone instantly or with a push of a button. It’s a pretty interesting article on how innovative technologies are enhancing productivity in the workplace. You can check it out here.

Nokia Sponsors Mobile Application Contest

Great news for application developers – Nokia and the inventor of Segway, Dean Kamen, are funding a contest just for you. In a time of powerful, impressive cell phone technology, mobile applications are dominating the industry. If you think you’ve got what it takes to create an application that revolutionizes the way we use mobile devices in the real (as opposed to conceptual) world you could be the winner of a $25,000 prize. Prizes will be awarded in the categories of Eco-Challenge, Emerging Markets and Technology Showcase.

Just a few notes on entry: The Eco-Challenge submissions should focus on building mobile tools to help users take care of the environment. Emerging Markets submissions should focus on ways to improve peoples’ lives in developing nations, including health care and agricultural implementations. The Technology Showcase encompasses all applications running on S60 or Series 40, whether it is commercial or casual, brand new or already on the market. Entries are due December 15, 2008 so get started now. With each prize awarded, one thing is for sure – we’re about to see a lot of innovation in mobile application development.

Check out the complete rules and regulations here then submit your entry here.

Friday, October 3, 2008

How to Change the Default Web Browser on Your Windows Mobile Phone

Internet Explorer Mobile is pretty much the bane of all Windows Mobile phones. Sure you can install another browser on your phone (check here for our recommendations), but anytime you click a link in an email, you’ll still be reminded that your phone’s default browser is about as useful as the I Am Rich app off the iTunes store. Luckily, our friends at XDA have come to the rescue yet again. Using JZ Smart Mort you can make any browser your default browser as well as switch between browsers with the greatest of ease.

The program can be downloaded at, but we’ve been kind enough to post the link at the end of the post to make your trip a bit easier. You can read up on how to go about installing everything as well as get some additional troubleshooting tips on the forum post here, as well. JZ Smart Mort does work with Torch Mobile’s Iris browser, Opera and Skyfire, which should be more than enough to suit your browsing needs. One note: if you’re using Opera, make sure to upgrade to version 4.1.

Check it out at XDA. Of course, if you’ve got any questions, you can always leave us a comment below or put a post up on XDA. After you’ve got it downloaded, head back here on your new default browser and check out what else you can be using your phone for, or I guess you could just click play below…but if you do it on your phone people will think you’re cool.

Download JZ Smart Mort

FACT or FICTION: New Nokia Concept Phone to Replace E90

We heard Nokia was planning on shifting away from targeting business users and concentrating on the consumer market with it software a few days ago, but everyone was a little fuzzy on how they were actually planning on doing it. Of course, they have the N-series, but would the E-series just die out? According to the latest concept for the E90 successor, not quite.

With the touchscreen-flip-action being detailed in these images, it looks like Nokia could have some interesting cards up its sleeve. There haven’t been any details on whether this new capability is in development or just for lookin’ pretty in a slideshow, but if the specs are right, this could demand a bit of attention. Touchscreen lovers get some love on the front and those who just aren’t ready to give up their tactile QWERTY keyboards can pop a smile with a simple flip. That’s all we know for now.

Of course, we’re guessing with Nokia’s new-found love for all-around users, we’ll see the full benefits of the open-source Symbian Foundation in there as well, although that’s just our speculation. We're still unsure what Nokia's going to do about business data syncing. Maybe we'll see a hint of Windows Mobile or, even better, Android in here?

What would you like to see behind that glossy screen? I’m thinking with Nokia’s already high-end status in the States, it could put some processing power behind this new innovation and throw in some WiMAX to replace the N810 Internet Tablet as well, giving it some distinction in the market and justifying its high price tag.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It’s Been a Good Year for HTC

If you’re the type of person who keeps up with mobile trends and the smartphone market, you’ve no doubt been inundated with stories about HTC. High Tech Computer is quickly becoming a leader in cell phone technology and is arguably the leader in phones running on Windows Mobile operating systems. Add its partnership with Google’s Android – the HTC G1 is set to launch on T-Mobile in just a few days – and HTC’s dominance rises even further.

The undeniable phone leaders are still Nokia and BlackBerry, but HTC isn’t complaining about its third-place slot. They’re predicting they will sell 13 to 15 million phones this year, largely thanks to its launch of the Touch line of phones. That’s quite the feat, considering that HTC wasn’t even in the top five phone manufacturers at the beginning of the year. Watch for HTC to continue its climb in the mobile industry.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Wednesday Social - Bundled Mobile Instant Messaging

Today at The Wednesday Social, it’s time to explore how some of the original online social networking – chats – have transitioned onto the mobile scene. To some it may make sense to start with the individual chat applications (AIM, ICQ, MSN) and work up to the more elaborate applications, but if you’re reading this blog, you’d probably rather we jump off the diving board into the deep end instead of sticking our toes in the shallow pool. The four applications we’ll focus on today all use your data plan (no text messaging rates apply!) and sync up multiple messengers into one, easy-to-operate chat machine.

Fring is a free talk, live-chat and interaction tool used with your Internet data plan or WiFi that bundles Skype, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, SIP, Twitter, Yahoo! and AIM. It gives you the ability to search your buddy list and add-on functions, such as Facebook, Gmail Notifier and Vtap Video Streaming. Perhaps what sets it apart from others is its ability to make local and international calls over an Internet connection without having to use your voice plan, potentially saving you money through the use of SkypeOut/SkypeIn. Also, Fring automatically logs your phone into your favorite WiFi hot spots, saving you the time and hassle. While Fring is not yet available for the iPhone, the tool is available on most handsets.

Palringo is another free chat service. It bundles ICQ, MSN Messenger, AIM, Google Talk Yahoo!, Gadu-Gadu and Jabber. Palringo also has its own chat service, which works on both your PC and your mobile phone. With Palringo, you can exchange text, photos and vocal IMs (think Walkie-Talkie), which can be especially useful for those of you who still can’t get the QWERTY keyboard or touchscreen typing down. Palringo allows you to create and join groups and is free for Windows Mobile, Symbian, Java, Blackberry and iPhone.

Some say free is best and others say you get what you pay for, so for those of you looking to pay for social networking, there are two options available to you. First, Agile Mobile includes your basic and most popular chat tools, MSN Messenger, AIM, Yahoo!, ICQ and Google Talk. Agile allows instant messaging, photo messaging, video messaging, and voice messaging. It is available on Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones, as well as all Windows Mobile and Pocket PC operating systems for $11.95 for a three-month period or $44.95 one-time licensing fee. Nervous about paying for the service? Start off with a free trial. Agile is also in a Beta trial for Java and is coming soon to an iPhone near you.

IM+ All-In-One Mobile Messenger bundles MSN Live, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber and MySpace IM. iPhone users receive free access to the service, while others have to fork out some dough. Prices vary between operating systems, starting low with Java ($9.95) and i-mode ($19.95) and capping off with Pocket PC ($39.95) and Blackberry ($49.95) at the high end. Windows Mobile, Symbian and Palm OS are $29.95. And for those of you looking forward to your new G1, IM+ for Android is in development.

There are plenty of options for chatters out there. For everyone who bundles their chats on their PCs, that same luxury is available on your cell phone. Especially for all the devices that run programs in the background – unfortunately, it’s a functionality that iPhone cannot perform – you can stay connected to your friends and colleagues no matter where you are. Chatting has never been easier.