Quick Tip To Avoid Losing Your iPhone

img_0031This is by no means a groundbreaking tip in my eyes, but having shown it to a few people, they suggested I should immortalise it by posting it for others to benefit from.

If you regularly travel or attend events, you probably pull your phone out of your pocket every few minutes. You also most likely rely heavily on it as your main means of communication, so losing it becomes a real pain.

What I did during SXSWi was create a note containing my contact details if my phone was found. As it was a total geekfest, my Twitter username and email address was enough, but if you’re staying at a hotel, you could ask them to leave it at your hotel’s reception desk, etc. As long as it fits within that single screen.

Set a PIN code on your phone to avoid anyone having a jolly by making international calls when they find it and hope that, if you do lose it, a Good Guy/Gal finds it who hands it back to you.

Quick handy tip, do it next time you go away!

[Update: Some readers pointed out they didn’t know how to get from creating a note to making it visible as wallpaper so here are some further details.

  1. After you’ve created the note, take a screenshot by pressing the top & front buttons at the same time. The screen will “flash” and the image will be saved in your Camera Roll.
  2. Go to your Photos app & to Camera Roll, and select the photo you want.
  3. Press the button with the arrow on the far left and select “Use as Wallpaper”
  4. Go to Settings and set your PIN code so that your phone now requires a PIN code.

When you’ll next wake your phone up from standby, you’ll see the wallpaper telling someone who finds your phone how to get a hold of you, while protecting your personal data by keeping it locked with a PIN.]

Browsing the Mobile Web: Anyone Out There?

Earlier this week, I published a post on the Taptu blog looking at the challenges of creating and selling mobile applications outside of the iPhone bubble, in particular at how developer Jan Ole Suhr released a Twitter client for S60, causing a stir around the pricing.

You know me, I love nothing more than a good ol’ rumble around the web, so when I came across some more tasty stats that didn’t agree with each other, I had to bite. Bango and AdMob both released recent figures for their top 20 handsets and there’s a Grand Canyon of difference in the top 3.


Granted there is a fairly straightforward explanation for this variation; AdMob, as an ad network, has been one of the chosen ad providers for many iPhone app developers, who choose to monetise their apps through advertising.

No Monopoly, Apple

What is enlightening however, is that the iPhone and iPod Touch don’t feature at all in Bango’s top 20. As a more representative sample of the mobile web than AdMob’s figures, it’s fascinating to see that a phone as basic as the Nokia 3110 Classic tops the chart. This is 2009. Weren’t we supposed to have hover cars, food in pill form and travel to the moon by now!? Yet a phone with less features than my microwave tops the chart with over 12% of the traffic to cross Bango’s service.

[Tangent alert] Before anyone crucifies me, I believe older phones have some wonderful benefits. My favourite phone of all times is probably still the Nokia 6100, which was small enough for me to mistake it for some futuristic pill form food and had about a century of battery life. (Ok, only slightly exaggerating) I’m a big fan of the iPhone, not so much of second-rate touch devices like Nokia’s 5800, but I try to be fair and give each and every new phone a chance first. [Tangent over]

Part of the appeal of the mobile web as opposed to apps is that, generally speaking, it’s much more accessible from a wide range of devices, without device, geographic or network limitations. But speaking to a number of smaller mobile website owners, it seems everyone’s missing a trick.

Stats Geeks Wanted

On desktop, most of us have caught on to Google Analytics and use it regularly to keep an eye on the ups and downs of our website. On mobile? Tumbleweed in most cases! Sure, Google Analytics and others aren’t suitable for mobile, but there are options. In fact, Bango’s mobile analytics service is not only simple to use, but has an admin area that rivals desktop packages.

Weirdly, these analytics could just as well be used on a desktop site. What, do you really think you don’t have a single mobile visitor to your desktop site? iPhone and other higher end phones will cope with Javascript (necessary to make a mark on Google Analytics, for example), but the majority of the devices listed on both AdMob and Bango’s top 20 won’t even register on your stats.

Personally, as a marketing gal and stats geek, I can’t imagine why a marketing manager wouldn’t want to improve reported numbers just by adding a new set of analytics. It ain’t cheating, it’s just usefully flagging up users you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Fly Me To the Moon

So while there are heinously bad phones out there *cough* motorolaimlookingatyou *cough* and site developers who forget that not everyone’s interested in a big Flash animation welcoming you to the site, we just can’t deny that it’s slowly becoming more or less enjoyable to browse the web on a phone, so it’s worth supporting that through good mobile design and smart tracking of what users coming from phones rather than 24″ screens get up to.

As far as I’m concerned, you’ll only find me browsing on an iPhone, since I’m not yet quiiite satisfied with touchscreen alternatives out there. Of course, I’m a willing guinea pig… at least while I wait for my brain implant, jetpack and weekend ticket to the moon.

[Disclaimer: Taptu and Bango are both clients with whom I work on community development. As for Apple and AdMob, I’m merely watching them evolve with great interest.]

iPhone 2.0: Does it really matter?

So it’s happened. Saint Jobs announced the Second Coming of his child, the Holy iPhone.

The 3G iPhone has arrived

Like Ben, I sat in front of my MacBook watching MacRumors, TUAW and Cali Lewis liveblog and report on the Keynote. Unlike Brian, I wasn’t mad (or privileged) enough to attend the Keynote at the Moscone Center, in SF.

Keynotes are a bit like circus acts. The event is rehearsed to the second, we all watch and wait with bated breath for the grandiose final scene, wondering whether anyone’s going to fall flat on their face along the way. While the keynote was light on substance, the short of it is the new iPhone hardware includes 3G, GPS, and there are a number of software changes – MobileMe particularly appeals to me.

However, the biggest change isn’t in the physical device. It’s all in the perception. Last time around, Apple was looking for early adopters, geeks and IWOOTs* to test-run their product in a giant, live usability testing session. Now that they’ve been able to watch us use the device, it’s time to reach out to the normobs with lower upfront costs. While the tariffs are still in the upper end of the scale, unlimited data makes it completely worthwhile.

As an existing user, I’m grateful that under O2’s reign I’m not given the “brand new customers only” treatment. I can upgrade without getting stung for breaking my contract. All first generation owners shedding their skin in prep for the Second Coming means there’ll be a number of orphaned first-generation iPhones floating around. Mine, for example, will most likely find a new home with my father-in-law, Roy. I’m curious to see what the trickle-down impact of giving second hand iPhones to unlikely buyers like Roy will have on the profile of future buyers.

I think Apple will continue to own marginal marketshare, because the iPhone remains too expensive, too complex and too closed for most, but it’s about to take a significant leap ahead. Are you jumping with me? Or kicking back and shaking your head at the fangirl* that I am? 😉

[* Def. IWOOT: “I want one of those”, otherwise known as saddos like me who can’t resist the latest gadget, even at exorbitant prices.]
[* A fangirl who began supporting Apple back in 1986 when it definitely wasn’t cool to own a Mac!]

[Cross-posted to the Taptu blog]

RAC Traffic report: More technology isn't always better

I love tech. I truly do. In fact, I’ve got a severe condition called “gadgetitis”, which becomes particularly acute around tech expos and Christmas time where all sorts of new techy goodies are released. And I love beta versions, even though they’re flakier than Paris Hilton. I love sneak previews, even if the app turns out to only be worthy of the TechCrunch deadpool. It’s a terrible addiction and as far as I know, there are no cures.

By the same logic, I almost always say that the more technology, the better. Almost.

Today’s an exception. This is my plea to the RAC, once my most reliable source of up-to-date traffic news, to step away from the Flash animations and return to this old technology called text. The wonderful thing about text is that it’s clear, succint and doesn’t require any fancy plugins. It’s easy to use when on the road with only a phone at hand.

RAC Traffic website goes Flash - ack!

This new animation completely fails from a usability point of view:

  1. It doesn’t respect the KISS rule: Keeping it simple means it’s more widely accessible. Not everyone has Flash enabled. My iPhone certainly doesn’t. :S
  2. It’s utterly useless to someone who isn’t local. Very few cities, towns and villages are identified, no matter how close you zoom in. Why aren’t the primary non-motorway roads identified? It’s certainly not because the map is too cluttered!
  3. The usefulness of the information displayed is questionable, especially in comparison to the detailed alternative that used to be available. Is the slowdown due to sheer traffic density or are we dealing with a 6 car pile-up where the motorway might get closed? That’s far more likely to affect my decision of what to do next than telling me vehicles are travelling at 10mph.
  4. The colours, which represent severity of traffic, aren’t accompanied by a legend, so the user has to guess what the scale is!

With the holidays coming and more people on motorways driving long distances to see family and friends, it can be a lifeline, helping us make a quick decision on whether a detour is needed. I’m afraid that the RAC designers didn’t do their homework here. Back to the drawing board, guys!

[Crossposted to the Taptu blog here!]

Geek update of the week

Sorry if posting’s been a bit on the lean side recently, I’ve been, shall we say, rather busy. So here’s the past two weeks in summary…

  • We got kittens, we got kittens, we got kittens! I’ve been spending nearly every evening entertaining them myself while teasing them with a silly stick with a green feather at the end.
  • I went to Paris for a very interesting Mobile Monday event, where Bob presented Taptu to the French and Zazie serenaded everyone.
  • I bought an iPhone. Yup. I was at the Cambridge O2 store on launch day. There was a big queue of like… 20 of us. Not a huge hit with the plebs, but I’m absolutely in love with it.
  • I went to the Future of Mobile conference, saw the usual suspects and met some new people while seeing Powerpoint slides being blown up bigger than ever before.
  • We’ve put our house on the market and have put an offer in on a bigger house just down the road. Comes with it, some serious tidying of the house in order to make it vaguely presentable to potential buyers!
  • Did I mention I got some kittens?

Right well… Good night my lovelies!

So I thought I'd talked myself out of getting an iPhone

The iPhone Pros and Cons list

When the iPhone came out in the US, I was drooling at the thought of getting one myself. When the UK contract deals were announced, and I started hearing about the difficulties people were having as far as upgrading to 1.1.1 while keeping their hacks, I got cold feet. I convinced myself that while I’m entirely unhappy with my N95’s performance, the iPhone wasn’t the solution to my phone woes.

I listened to friends reminding me that the iPhone was so much more limited than S60 phones, and that I’d miss the freedom if I took the plunge. I heeded their warnings and thought I’d make a personal short (very short) list of my drop-dead minimum requirements for a phone and try to take a level-headed look at the situation. Cost issues aside, the iPhone meets all my requirements.

  1. Faster camera than on my current phone: Well, that’s not hard to beat… To take the picture above and transfer it to my computer, the N95 took a couple of minutes. So much for catching that popstar driving by or a friend’s silly face at the pub. They’ll have finished their pint and gone home before the camera wakes up. Of course, the camera isn’t as high-quality, but then if I want quality, I’ll take the Canon 350D along instead!
  2. Better battery life than on my current phone: Again, an easy box to tick. My N95, with relatively heavy use, died in just over two hours last Friday. About 30-45 minutes were spent using the Jaiku application, a few emails were checked and a few phone calls made. But TWO HOURS? I need to be confident that I can go out on my own, and still have a way to ring home if something goes wrong.
  3. Jaiku works fine: This one could be debated, seeing as there is no iPhone variant of Jaiku available at the moment. However, the m.jaiku.com version works fine, albeit without the flashiness of iPhone-specific sites. [Note: I used Jaiku more as an example rather than a specific must-have. Social network sites in general need to work well for me]
  4. WordPress admin area works – comment moderation in particular: While my blog doesn’t get masses of comments, I like to know I can moderate them as needed. I’ve only had a limited opportunity to play with my WordPress admin section, but everything seems to be in working order. Doubt I’ll ever do much actual blogging from my phone, but moderating, correcting and updating entries does matter to me.
  5. Comfortably does email and hitchlessly syncs with iCal: No question there, box totally ticked.
  6. Painless upload of pics to Flickr: That’s one area where I have to admit the N95 does a fantastic job – if a bit slowly. The integrated Flickr uploader is one of my current phone’s best features, and I use it nearly daily. As I currently understand it, the iPhone would require me to email the photo over to Flickr, rather than do a web upload, but I can cope with that.

Conclusion: I want one. I really do.

I’m thankful that I don’t live in Canada anymore, as the contract with Rogers is a three year one, which is pants-on-head retarded and batshit insane, to put it simply. A three year contract is like… being married! And god knows I have no interest in marrying either Rogers, AT&T, or O2 in the UK for that matter.

So aside from the price issue – O2’s contracts aren’t exactly a bargain – the iPhone meets my requirements. I’m damn tempted to get one but I’m currently tied into a T-Mobile contract, so headaches ahead if I want to move my phone number over.

Ugh, it’s a hard life being such a gadget whore sometimes…

Tomorrow, the iPhone will change the world

On the eve of the launch of the iPhone in the US, I thought I’d finally come out clean with my views on it.

[Yes, I know you’re all sick to death of hearing about the iPhone, but bear with me; I’ve been quiet about it since the day it was announced, and even today, I haven’t completely made up my mind on how I feel about it, and I need to verbalise my thoughts.]

It’s going to be a shiny, sleek and unique gadget. It’s going to take the world by storm, and wallets by the throat. We’re all going to drool over it, have a flick at the screen and a poke at the SDK (well not me, but you know…) Oh and we’re going to hear about it for a few more bloody months…

I want to wish the iPhone into being as good as we all hope it will be, but I can’t help but have some reservations.

First, that’s one great big screen to try and protect. Don’t know about you, but my phone, my keys and my lipglosses often have happy little tea parties in the bottom of my handbag, and I’m not sure the iPhone would be keen on the company. Granted the plastic screen has been replaced with a tougher glass one, but even while protected in a big iPod sock-type-thing, it’s a big screen against which pressure can be applied by a not-so-careful owner.

Also, the battery life is bound to be pretty poor with such a screen to power, regardless of their claims (scroll down this article for the comparison). I already found Shitbrick* and my N95 to suck the life out of the battery something senseless the moment I used the web browser, so while they’ve upped the claimed battery life, I struggle to believe that it’ll really be that great.

But my main concern is really, honestly… just how long it’ll be before I can get my greasy mitts on an iPhone… Not necessarily OWN one, but have a good little play for a few days and decide whether we’re made for each other.

Until then, however, I’m thoroughly enjoying the company of my wonderful and versatile N95. *cradles N95 in her arms* Don’t worry you’re not going anywhere anytime soon, little thing! It’s lived up to expectations, and continued to amaze me. Will the iPhone also live up to expectations?

Well, I guess we’ll find out tomorrow morning, won’t we?

[* That’s the loving name I gave to my N70 after it started throwing a wobbly at random, telling me to “Close down applications. Running out of memory!” when nothing was open, then being too busy throwing that wobbly to let me calm it down. What a pile of crap, paperweight at best!]