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Archive for the ‘Mobile Applications’ Category

Glove app review: how to find the best mobile network

Friday, August 8th, 2014

It’s always super annoying to deal with a crappy mobile signal – not least because it’s never clear what the exact issue is. Is your phone just bad? Maybe you’re on the wrong network? It’s maddening, and with the long commitments inherent in mobile contracts, you don’t have the luxury to switch carriers willy-nilly until you find one that suits you.

Glove is an app that attempts to solve this problem, allowing you to find the best mobile carrier in the places you actually use your phone. Here’s how it works.

Finding a carrier that fits like a glove

For three days, the Glove app runs in the background of your phone, using GPS to note down your location. Ideally, during these days you’ll be at home, be at work, and be anywhere else that you spend a decent amount of time. It compares your current signal strength with crowd-sourced results from other mobile carriers in the same area.

After three days, it presents you with a selection of carriers; ideally these recommendations will provide you with the best possible signal strength and data speeds in your area. The app also shows you deals for each carrier to give you an idea of what’s available should you decide to switch.

My experience using the app

I ran Glove for three days, encompassing a pretty standard pattern for me – working at home, traveling to the Mobile Fun offices, and spending time in town. Once the three days are up, I got an excited notification… stating that the results would be coming soon.

A few minutes later, and the results were actually available. O2 (including giffgaff) were rated as the best (score 4.33/5), followed by EE (3.29), Vodafone (3.15) and my current carrier Three (1.68). I’ve had some issues with signal strength with Three, particularly indoors, compared to O2, so the ratings seem at least somewhat realistic.

The offers promised by the app were only available for O2, and required that someone actually call you up and give them to you (which I didn’t acquiesce to). There was also an option to ‘see plans’ for each carrier, but these merely took me to each carrier’s generic web store, without any specific recommendations. It was a bit disappointing after running the app for three days; I had expected something more personalised at this latter step.

Of course, it’s hard to tell how accurate the final results actually are. The cynical side of me suspects that the app will just refer you to the carrier that it gets the best bonuses from; ultimately this is a free app without ads so these referrals are the only way the developers will get paid. Hopefully though, the value of providing an accurate (and ethical) service will eclipse that of short-term money-making for the company.

Wrap-up

Ultimately, I’ve got mixed impressions of the Glove app. While the app is easy to use and seems to produce an accurate picture of carrier signal strength, there are still only four carriers it can compare between, none of which you’re likely to have overlooked.

I would have also liked to see a better final step. It would have been brilliant to have it include tracking of calls made, texts sent and data used in order to produce a few recommended contract or pay-as-you-go plans on the carriers it suggested. Instead, you’re just left at a carrier’s generic store page, where there’s still an almost overwhelming amount of choice.

Regardless, considering the app is free and requires no interaction, it’s hard to really knock it. You may as well run it on your phone, and see what carrier recommendations it produces – you may just find you get a recommendation that you didn’t expect.

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Stop those pesky aliens with the appBlaster gun

Friday, October 28th, 2011

There’s aliens trying to attack Earth and there’s only one person who can stop them…. you!  Use your appBlaster gun and your iPhone to fend off the aliens, by stopping them in their tracks.

Combining augmented reality and a fun game from the appstore, the appBlaster lets you track down and shoot aliens who appear to be invading your home and the entire planet  - don’t let us down!

The appBlaster gun is lightweight and comes with a shoulder stock, meaning you can comfortably play for hours and make sure every one of those aliens is sent back to there home planet.  There’s two triggers on the gun too, a rear trigger which fires lasers and a front trigger which fires missiles, so there’s no excuses for missing the aliens.

appBlaster gun

Here’s the clever augmented reality bit: the appBlaster app uses the rear facing camera of your iPhone to overlay the game against your environment – transforming your iPhone into a high-tech sight complete with cross hairs and game data.  This makes the game completely feel like it’s happening all around you, bringing the invasion closer to home.  This is definitely one of the best iPhone accessories for gaming fans.

The augmentation is teamed with your iPhone’s accelerometer, making the game play at the same speed as you – if you turn fast, so will the aliens, but if you move slower, the game will slow down too.  Even re-loading your gun is incorporated into the game, as you have to point your gun to the sky then bring it back down to re-load; all before those pesky aliens attack even more.

Playing with the appBlaster can lead to hours of fun and you can even play to the Mission Impossible theme like in this video

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Just your type – an iPad 2 case with in-built Bluetooth keyboard

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The KeyCase Folio Deluxe with Bluetooth Keyboard was one of our most popular iPad cases of all last year, so we’re very pleased to announce that the manufacturers have now brought out an iPad 2 version!

iPad 2 keyboard case

For many of you, the idea of an iPad 2 having a physical keyboard may seem somewhat redundant – after all, there’s already a virtual one right there on the screen!  Others, on the other hand, will be wondering why no one thought of it sooner – there’s just something about the tactile feel of buttons under your fingers that you can’t get from a smooth capacitive screen, not to mention the fact that typing’s simply faster on a physical keyboard.  It also helps to cut down on those annoying smudges and greasy fingerprints that inevitably build up on the surface of your tablet display!

At first glance, the KeyCase looks like any other iPad 2 case, albeit a rather stylish one.  It’s made of hardwearing leather, to protect the tablet from bumps and scratches, and a magnetic clasp gives it that extra bit of security as well as finishing off the professional look.  There are specially-designed cut-outs in the case to allow access to all of the iPad’s buttons and functions, ensuring that the case doesn’t impair usability.

iPad 2 keyboard case

Inside, though, there’s a secret – a full QWERTY iPad 2 keyboard, just ready to pair with your iPad 2 via Bluetooth and let you type away to your heart’s content.  The keyboard features quiet keypress technology, pairs automatically with your device and has a 10-minute auto-sleep function to help preserve battery.  The battery of the Bluetooth keyboard will last for up to 45 hours off one single charge – probably longer than the iPad itself – so you don’t have to faff around charging it up too often.

iPad 2 keyboard case

All in all this is a gorgeous piece of kit, especially suited to commuters who need to do a lot of typing on the hoof, and people who prefer a more tactile experience.  It’s one of our favourite iPad 2 accessories so far.

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Weekly Round-Up

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

So, there’s only a week to go until the UK launch of the iPad 2!  Who’s planning to be in the queue? I’ve put together a blog post on how to prepare for the arrival of the newest member of your family (aaawwww) which goes through what sort of iPad 2 accessories are available to get the best out of the tablet.

For those who are planning to grab an iPad 2 but already own an original iPad, we’ve got some really cute children’s iPad covers for people who have decided to pass on their iPads on to their kids (we just didn’t get hand-me-downs like this when I was little!).  There’s an Elmo iPad case and a Cookie Monster iPad case available.

For big kids as well as small:

The Angry Birds iPad 2 case has been announced and is coming soon!  Mega-fans can kill two birds with one stone (or two pigs with one bird!) and pick up the Angry Birds iPhone 4 case at the same time as the iPad 2 case over on the main site.

And I also really like this Pinball Case for iPhone/iPod, which brings a spot of retro-chic to your iDevice and lets you turn it into a real-life tiny pinball machine, complete with flippers.  Of course there are no actual balls involved; this is a completely modern version of the game which works by downloading a (totally free) dedicated pinball app.

For Kindle:

The M-Edge Executive Jacket with e-Luminator Light for Amazon Kindle is a nice bundle which combines a stylish faux-leather executive Kindle case with a handy Kindle light, to keep the e-reader illuminated on dimmer days or at night-time. The light attaches easily to the case itself.

Until next week,
MF Nat


iPhone Bike Holder Wirelessly Connects to Sensor

Monday, March 14th, 2011

This is an iPhone bike mount that does more than just hold the phone in place on the handlebars. The LiveRider has two killer advantages that make it stand out from the crowd, for not only does it protect the phone, whilst making the screen accessible to the rider it also records the riders performance like a bike computer, and it also does this without the faff of connecting the sensor to the handlebar with wires.

iPhone Bike Mount

The iPhone app comes included and turns the phone into a bike 'computer'

The wireless connectivity part is cool as it makes it so much simpler to install, rather than having to route the wires from the rear wheel and securing it along the tubes of the bike. It works on 2.4 GHz radio frequency, (as do cordless phones) and the sensor is a self-contained battery powered unit that connects wirelessly to the iPhone bike holder, which connects to the iPhone through the 30 pin charging port.

iPhone Wireless Bike Sensor

This unit sends the wheel speed and pedal cadence to the iPhone handlebar mount

As the package includes the mount, sensor and an app. there are many possibilities for improving your performance or just recording your rides. One I particularly liked is the ability to see how you are doing compared to previous occasions on the same route. You can tell whether you are behind or ahead of schedule as your progress is therefore monitored.

While the holder protects the phone you would need to remove it from an existing iPhone 4 case, but I notice that the receiving unit is separate from the holder so in theory you could attach the receiver to your your phone and just pop it in your pocket while riding. You wouldn’t be able to read the speedo etc. but you would be recording your route.

Index of Mobile Applications