Tag Archives: mobile

Garmin launching Mobile XT

THERE is an ever-increasing number of mobile devices (phones and PDAs) being launched on the South African market that include global positioning system (GPS) receivers as a standard feature.

However, these devices rarely come bundled with accurate, high-quality GPS and mapping software – a deficiency that often makes the GPS feature an underutilised mobile option.

A GPS in your pocket
Garmin Mobile XT Version 5 is a new product Garmin are launching in 2009 specifically for cellphones with GPS receivers.

The product is installed on an SD card and transforms GPS-enabled mobile phones or PDAs into full-featured navigation devices, with all the functionality of conventional GPS devices (such as turn-by-turn voice prompts).

This is according to Andrew McHenry, head of mobile and content for Avnic Trading (the official South African distributor of Garmin and Garmap), who says that for very little cost users can take full advantage of having a “go-anywhere” navigation device in their pockets, which is as convenient and beneficial to use as it is easy to set up.

To enable South Africans to get the most out of their GPS-enabled devices, Avnic Trading has announced the retail availability of Garmin Mobile XT version 5 – the company’s full navigation application, which utilises the very latest Garmap Africa Series 2008 mapping data.

Points of interest
Garmap Africa Series 2008 Second Edition now includes over 750 000km of routable map data for 1 700 cities, towns and villages, as well as 55 nature reserves, in nine countries. To date, the map set also includes over 190 000 points of interest (POIs) and the list is growing on a regular basis.

“Garmin Mobile XT gives users the ability to check weather forecasts for their destinations, access flight details for many major airlines, and call a point of interest (such as a restaurant or coffee shop) using the phone feature.”

Social / community feature
“There are a number of community-focused features in Garmin Mobile XT that aim to add even more benefit to having a GPS in your pocket,” says McHenry.

Users can send a location message to another mobile phone – detailing their exact location in GPS coordinates. If the receiving mobile phone also has Mobile XT installed, the message translates into a destination point and allows the receiver to easily and quickly navigate to that point.

Safety feature
Being able to find someone also plays a huge role in safety and security. Mobile XT includes a “panic button”, which automatically fires off an urgent location message to three emergency contacts whenever the # key is depressed for more than 3 seconds in certain Samsung and Nokia handsets.

Panoramio
For tourists and pedestrians in South Africa, Garmin Mobile XT also includes a useful social feature called “Panoramio” – a tool that allows consumers to access user-generated content that has been uploaded to the web.

“Utilising Panoramio, users can download a list of photos that were taken by other users who had visited the same area before and uploaded these geo-tagged photos to the Panoramio website,” says McHenry.

“In Garmin Mobile XT, users see a list of photos, a short description of the photo and the distance to the place where the photo was taken. Users then simply select the attraction that they want to see and Garmin Mobile XT shows them how to get there.”

“This makes it easy to navigate cities and tourist destinations, using landmarks and tourist attractions without having to know the exact address,” McHenry adds. “It’s a great new way of discovering attractions in foreign cities, or maybe even in your own backyard.”

From point A to point Z
“There is so much more to the GPS feature on mobile devices than the glorified map book,” McHenry says. ”It’s not just about navigating from point A to point B anymore. There’s so much to discover out there, and you may just be carrying the very tool in your pocket to help you find it.”

• Garmin Mobile XT version 5 will be available in retail blister packs at leading retail outlets from the beginning of 2009, for a recommended retail price of R990.

Compatible handsets include:

  • HTC: Touch Diamond, Touch Cruise, Touch Pro, P3300, X7500, TyTNII, P3470, X7500
  • Sony Ericsson: Xperia X1
  • Nokia: E90, E71, E66, N96, N95 8GB, N95, N85, N82, N79, N78, 6220 Classic, 6210 Navigator, 6110 Navigator
  • Samsung: i560, G810, i8510, i780, i900

As someone who is somewhat renowned for getting lost in his own backyard, I’m writing to Santa and asking for one of these babys as a late Christmas present!

- issued on behalf of Garmin and Tribeca Public Relations

Will e-readers end the Age of the Book?

E-READERS: Electronic reading devices being developed in different shapes & forms at a rapid pace could galvanise the market for digital text in the way the Apple iPod did for digital music

THESE gadgets are small and light enough to fit into a small suitcase or handbag and eliminate the need to carry around overweight books and over-sized newspapers. Particular texts can be accessed on the Internet to be read on a display screen at the user’s convenience.

Amazon's kindleSome e-readers come with wi-fi, and the choice of devices on which to read e-content, ranges from e-readers and PCs to digital watches. It’s a matter of simply downloading the content to whichever device is preferred for reading those books.

Green enthusiasts may also be swayed by the argument for e-readers, as they are not backlit, use little energy and could contribute to reducing paper consumption. A Sony spokesperson explained that energy is only used when a page is turned electronically.

PUBLISHING COMPANIES GO DIGITAL
Sales of electronic readers such as Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader have been growing fast, prompting smaller companies to introduce their own prototypes and encouraging publishers to step up the digitisation of their books.

Publishing giant Penguin announced that they will now be publishing all new titles both as printed books and e-books and will further digitise its backlist.

At the recent Frankfurt Book Fair, Penguin publishers Chief Executive John Makinson said: “They [e-readers] have become mainstream in the sense that they are a genuine consumer product for which there is real appetite, so this is not the province of geeks any longer.”

Up till now e-readers were mainly used by scientists and early adopters, but are ideal for reducing the carry loads of commuters, students and travelers.

THE GLOBAL E-BOOK MARKET
Technology research firm iSuppli predicts that global e-book display revenue will grow to $291 million (roughly R2.3 billion) in 2012 from just $3.5 million (roughly R28 million) in 2007.

At present an e-book reader costs anywhere between $300 and $400 (roughly R3 000 and R4 000), which is why book enthusiasts are confident that e-readers will not replace printed text too soon.

However, specialists have already considered cheaper alternatives for South African consumers. They believe mobile phones could prove more popular as a display for reading digital content than e-readers as most people already have cellphones. Furthermore, cellphones provide opportunities for readers to interact.

South African publishers such as Penguin announced at the Book Fair that they are already preparing content for mobile phones.

In Japan, short stories especially written for cellphones are already being sent to readers in installments, and Apple’s iPhone are also allowing users to read their novels on a mobile.

THE DEATH OF THE PRINTED BOOK?
Many readers and writers say that the practicality and novelty of e-books will never replace what printed books offer to the senses. Nobel-Prize winning author Orhan Pamuk, who has collected 70 000 tomes told the press:

“When I look at the standard of today’s technology, then I can’t imagine using an e-reader, no. But one day … when technology manages to create the perfume of books, of old books, then yes, maybe” - Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk

Whatever the case may be this is certainly not the day and age to become burdened with poor eyesight!

- original text supplied by Reuters

Related post:
Save the trees with ipaper

Would you get with GetMo?

GetMo South Africa — SA’s newly formed multimedia platform, is being dubbed as the country’s first all-in-one online digital entertainment service.

A nationwide live music launch tour (to promote GetMo) was held in August, and saw leading South African artists perform 34 free shows at schools, universities and venues in seven cities across the country.

According to company director, Jehan Mackay, “GetMo offers South Africa a wide range of entertainment including music, movies, mobile content and more. The service is available to both mobile and PC users, making it South Africa’s first multi-platform all-in-one digital entertainment service.”

Getmo logo

There is no doubt that the digital entertainment landscape is changing fast, as are users of mobile and PC products. What GetMo aims to accomplish, according to Mackay, is to give South African’s fast and reliable access to value-for-money digital entertainment anywhere at anytime.

In addition to music and movies, GetMo offers consumers online access to ringtones, graphics, video clips, music videos, games and more, all from the same online service, says Klaus Renkl, GetMo Country Manager for SA.

Yet how good is this service in comparison to existing ones? Although there may not be many others that are uniquely South African and offer as much, who gets to decide who SA’s top artists are? I’m a big appreciator of local content, yet truthfully GetMo just didn’t seem to offer much that excited me.

*The following is from a Q+A with the peeps behind GetMo

CONTENT & QUALITY:
The content available on getmo.com is aggregated from the major music labels, as well other major or independent entertainment content owners and game developers. GetMo claims to be able to support all content types and encourages independent filmmakers, designers, creators and the like to make their content available.

The developers aim to set the highest quality standards, especially when it comes to mobile content. According to Mackay, “we demand the highest technical complexity to ensure that each content item works on each mobile handset”.

PRICING:
Whereas most other digital entertainment services offer a pay-as-you-use model, GetMo includes a unique all-you-can-eat service, which allows customers limitless amounts of entertainment on any device they choose for a constant monthly fee.

Consumers can either look out for various GetMo Club Card options (available free of charge and bundled with other products), purchase items directly via credit card on an item-by-item basis, or purchase GetMo Club Cards which allows unlimited access to content for one or more months.

UNIQUENESS:
What is rather appealing about the GetMo product site is that it offers pre-listening sessions, previews, movie trailers, descriptions and other metadata around the items available. This really helps make informed choices and helps ensure that consumers get exactly what they want.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of GetMo is its use of peer-to-peer distribution technologies, which allows users to share files between each other legally. According to Mackay:

“Our legal P2P (peer-to-peer) technology also allows us to use the individual hard drives of PC owners to help distribute large files more effectively (known as the bittorrent principle). This advanced technology has often been misused for illegal file sharing. However, we have designed and approved a platform that enables a legal service without losing any of the benefits.”

If you have ever heard of a nifty file-sharing program called Bearshare, GetMo uses pretty much the same principle. One is able to choose what files on their PC to share across the internet and is able to download zillions of files from others. It used to be entirely illegal and several existing loopholes allow it to remain so. How GetMo manages (or will mange) to keep it all kosher is something I’m waiting to see.

GRIPES:
I’ve been in possession of a Zen Vision mp4 player for about two weeks now. It comes with an introduction CD which includes a Britney Spears music video and some idea on what the games (which are considered as “mobile”) are like, but has no software. One needs to visit their site to download the required software (i.e. the GetMo media suite), which is a 47 meg download required if one wants to share media files with others across an internet network.

To be honest I haven’t felt the urge to use my GetMo media suite or download anything off the website. I am quite keen to get a few movies though. Unfortunately all the videos available so far are cheap Bollywood productions, which is possibly due to the fact that GetMo South Africa is owned by Arvato Middle East Sales (AMES). I’m not much of a fan of Bollywood.

Otherwise if music videos, ‘mobile’ games, wallpapers and ringtones are what you want, there is quite a good collection of those. I’ve been quite content with using my Zen vision as an mp3 player, flash stick and alarm clock (no software required! It’s all a matter of copy and paste).

I’ve also tried converting my favorite shows and movies into mp4 files to see how those tickle my fancy on the tiny screen without too much success. One can download trial versions of several mp4 converters, but these either only convert the first few minutes of a video file or bomb out after a couple of weeks. The full versions of such converters go for between $25 – $30.

Does anyone know of a free, full-version mp4 converter available for download?? Otherwise I guess it’s back to illegal file-sharing!

For more information visit www.getmo.com

PS: if your in the market for an mp4 player, and have some cash to spend, go for the ipod nano – you won’t regret it!

A whiff of the modern cellphone

*View this post in HD*

THE cellphone has become one of the most widely used digital technologies in everyday life. However, current cellular innovations appear to be both exciting and potentially dangerous at the same time.

one smelly phoneThe Health Concept Phone (pictured) is equipped with eNose technology, which effectively allows it to electronically “smell” what you eat and keep track of your food intake. It is able to ‘recognise’ food (and other things) by its unique chemical signature. Recommended for people who have a habit of eating with their eyes closed. Similar phones have the ability to emit a whiff of your significant other’s scent every time he or she phones.

New cellular features (and what one can actually do with a modern cellphone) are taking the lead in incorporating the latest and greatest technical innovations. Interestingly, cellphones equipped with such state-of-the-art technology are becoming increasingly popular in countries such as South Africa as opposed to those who one might refer to as the ‘digital elite‘.

The most striking (and perhaps most frightening) ideas are to create cellphones that come closer to human nature than we might like to believe. Electronic giant Samsung is planning to create cellphones that have “artificial chromosomes” built in them, and will be able to ‘think’, ‘feel’, ‘evolve’ and even ‘reproduce’. The concept seems close to the earlier invention of the Tamagotchi – a digital creature that adjusts its ‘life’ according to the personality and actions of its owner.

Other companies have already customised phones for social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, which they say “effectively allows you to carry your social life in your pocket”. No human contact needed.

The notion that we are living in an expanding visual and digital culture is becoming more apparent by the development of such technologies. Perhaps the most exciting cellphone feature that manufacturers are focusing on at the moment is video. Several companies are talking about making it possible for millions of people to simultaneously stream live video and TV channels via their phones. Music fans may receive the most recent music videos by their favourite bands instantaneously — a concept being coined as ultrareality.

As exciting as these developments sound the luddites (technology pessimists) will tell us that this is not all cream and cake. And no, these are not all hippies that protest against technology, but clued-up intellectuals who know what they are talking about. An article published in the Washington Times describes how digital experts in the Middle East are making use of cellphones to trigger off road-side bombs. James Bond films also illustrate how cellphones are, rather accurately, used in the spy industry for corruption purposes.

The pace that such developments are taking do have the danger of blinding one to their negative possibilities, however, the idea of getting a whiff of your significant other’s scent through your phone every time he or she calls is both crazy and exciting.

Links:
Mobbed by Mobile Media
Top popped on what cellphone technology can do for us
Cell-phone technology – an explosive tool for insurgents

Semi-related post:
Backup options for lost or stolen phones