TomTom launch free sat-nav app

March 26th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

TomTom 281x300 TomTom launch free sat nav appTomTom have gone a launched a free sat-nav on Android called TomTom Go Mobile. If you’ve just bought a sat-nav, gutted for you.

So what do you get with it? Well, it looks like it has more features than the competition, with live traffic updates and speed camera notifications and all that. Oh, and of course, you can navigate yourself with it. That’s pretty obvious though.

You can also take trips to millions of ‘points of interest’ and if you’re worried about hammering your data, you can download offline maps for the 111 countries covered by TomTom.

What’s the catch? Well, it is free to download, but that’s limited to 50 miles per month. If you’re driving in advance of that, then you’ll need to look at the £14.99 per year subscription (or £34.99 for three years).

Of course, you could just use Google Maps for free, or indeed, the Google-owned Waze which also won’t cost you a penny.

However, Google Maps can be a bit of a faff, while TomTom Go Mobile has big, clutter-free buttons, which is advantageous if you’re behind the wheel. Either way, sat-navs as we know them are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, so TomTom need to do something, and with this freemium model, they might be onto something.

Unless Google are scheming something…

BT and the £5-a-month deals

March 25th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Picture 2 BT and the £5 a month dealsBT aren’t messing about with their newly unveiled mobile deals. They’re offering super cheap deals which will raise a bit of interest (and scorn, naturally).

You can get 4G deals from £5 per month with BT Sport thrown-in, which ain’t bad. There’s also monthly spend caps if you want and, there’s a freedom to switch between BT’s mobile plans without having to take out new contracts.

So what deals are there?

- 500MB of 4G data, unlimited texts and 200 minutes for £5 a month if you have BT Broadband, £10 a month if you don’t.

- 2GB of 4G data, unlimited texts and 500 minutes for £12 a month with BT Broadband (non BT customers, £17)

- 20GB of 4G data, unlimited texts, unlimited minutes, for £20 a month if you have BT Broadband (non BT customers, £25)

If you’re crazy about these offers, then you can get 5 SIMs per household. Of course, these deals are SIM-only, with BT holding off on package deals until they take over EE (Ofcom decision pending). Obviously, you can’t do much with 500MB of 4G data, but y’know, that’ll be enough for someone and for a fiver a month, they’re not going to grumble.

Hopefully, some of the other providers have just shit their pants and will start lowering their prices.

mobile theft 300x187 Mobile operators agree £100 bill cap for stolen phonesIf your mobile phone gets nicked, there’s a small bit of good news – now, if the thief racks up a massive bill on it, there’s a new maximum limit of £100 that can be charged to you.

It’s still a hundred quid, but it could be worse.

This is a new voluntary scheme which has been backed by the government and Vodafone, EE, O2, Three and Virgin Media have agreed to sign-up with it. To benefit from this, you have to report that your phone has been stolen to the police and mobile network within 24 hours of it happening.

Minister for the digital economy Ed Vaizey is very pleased with himself and this scheme, saying: “Protecting hardworking families from shock bills through no fault of their own has been a priority for this government. By working with the mobile operators, we have secured an agreement that will provide consumers with real benefits as well as offer peace of mind.”

Three are already on-board and have implemented this policy. Meanwhile, EE will roll out their plans in the “coming weeks” while Vodafone are going to introduce it “in the summer.” Virgin Media have said that this will be a thing from July 1st and O2 will bring it in from September 2015.

So there you have it! Now, put your phone somewhere safe and stop leaving your pockets and bags open and you’ll never need to use this.

BT to launch 4G network this week

March 23rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

mobile BT to launch 4G network this weekBT are launching their own 4G service this week, throwing their weight around the mobile world once again. Their plans are to throw a load of aggressively priced deals at everyone in a bid to grab swathes of land back from their rivals.

It looks like BT are going to start trumpeting about everything in the middle of this week, so keep ‘em peeled on Wednesday.

It’ll be called, very surprisingly, BT Mobile, and will use the EE network after BT got in bed with them last month and, of course, BT are in the process of swallowing EE whole, provided Ofcom are alright with everything.

From what we can tell, to begin with, BT Mobile will only be offering SIMs and will be available to existing BT broadband customers. Presumably, they’re waiting for the EE buyout to go through if they’re going to offer more. Either way, competitors will be eyeing up BT’s pricing plan and reacting accordingly, which could mean that there’s a load of bargains on the horizon for everyone.

On the BT/EE deal, that looks like it will be happening before the close of the 2015/16 fiscal year.

samsung Samsung to finally lose the bloatware from Galaxy?One of the biggest bugbears with Samsung’s Galaxy mobiles is the sheer volume of bloatware – pointless apps that are constantly being updated and never used, taking up memory on your device, which you can’t delete easily.

On Google Play, most of the customer reviews complain about this very thing, but it might just be a thing of the past.

Of course, the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will be filled with pre-installed apps that you invariably don’t want, but now, Samsung are playing with the idea of letting you remove them.

Imagine that – a load of stuff on your phone, banished to some virtual netherworld so you can clog your phone up with other hugely useful things like photographs of your own undercarriage and 500 clones of Flappy Bird. Either way, the ability to easily rid yourself of these things would make for a smoother Android experience for users. And why is this being toyed with now? A new South Korean law has been brought about which says that all apps should be removable by users.

This could mean that Samsung roll it across all their devices, but there’s the small matter of them making money from licensed third party apps and all that.

If they do it, it could be a small, but brilliant game changer for Android users.

Apple remove misleading virus apps

March 20th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

whatsapp1 Apple remove misleading virus appsApple are apparently shutting down a load of ‘anti-virus’ apps over at the iOS App Store, as they think that they’re ‘misleading’.

Anti-virus software company Intego, said that Apple doesn’t want iHavers to believe iOS devices are at risk from viruses and malware, so they’re going to nix a load of applications, including Intego’s ‘VirusBarrier’ app.

Intego argue that their software scans external files that were stored in emails or in the cloud, looking for malicious things. While an email attachment can’t directly install a virus to an iOS device, these viruses can still be passed on through them, and VirusBarrier wants to prevent that.

Apple are said to have called the VirusBarrier App Store description ‘misleading’ and, according to Intego, Apple are refusing to reinstate it to the App Store until the developer rewords the description to make the app’s intent ‘obnoxiously’ clear. At the moment, it says: “Your iOS device can act as a gateway for malware and viruses. Infected attachments can transfer to your computer, or your friends, family, and colleagues.”

“Intego VirusBarrier iOS offers on-demand scanning for your iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, so you can catch malicious files and get rid of them before they spread.”

This isn’t good enough for Apple, clearly. Then again, nothing is.

Mobile contracts are failing us all

March 20th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

mobile Mobile contracts are failing us allCitizens Advice aren’t happy with our mobile contracts, calling for a big overhaul of the rules that surround them, noting that the state of things can take people “to the cleaners”.

They compiled a report called ’Calling The Shots’ (nothing to do with the Girls Aloud track, sadly) and they found that consumers are facing charges of (up to) £800 to leave maximum two-year contracts that fail to live up to the promises they made.

CA looked at 21,500 mobile phone complaints, and found that the most common problems involved faulty phones (39%), bad service and leaving contracts (17%), misleading sales practices (16%) and disputes over their bills (12%).

The charity pointed out that most contracts don’t specify a reasonable minimum service one can expect from their phone, which means that people then don’t have the right to cancel contracts that haven’t delivered what has been advertised. The noted toward consumers who had paid for contracts that included 3G or 4G, but couldn’t get coverage for them, and if they wanted out, they were asked to pay-up the full contract or pay for the remainder of as much as £800 to end it prematurely.

It was also found that some have been charged the full amount of their contract to cancel it before they’d even got their hands on a phone.

Citizens Advice were also unimpressed that the Government and providers haven’t put a cap on bills that have been run-up by thieves, while also noting that a lot of customers don’t know who to go to if their phone is faulty (it is the retailer’s legal responsibility, if you didn’t know).

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Consumers can be taken to the cleaners for ending a mobile phone contract that doesn’t deliver. Consumers should only be paying for the service they receive. For consumers to be guaranteed a good deal from their mobile phone providers, clear minimum standards of service and better contract exit rights are needed.”

“Nobody should be left to fall through gaps in regulation, so the Government should now look into simplifying how mobile phone users can get redress when they are treated badly.”

Google: now checking your apps

March 18th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

android apps 300x187 Google: now checking your appsGoogle have just tinkered with their Play Store policies, which means that from now, Android developers are going to have to wait for their apps to be approved by the Internet Behemoth once they’ve been submitted.

Before now, Google didn’t bother with such things and only looked at apps once they’d been reported for violating its policies or whatever. Now, they’re going to preside over everything like Apple do with theirs. However, Google say that no-one will notice much difference as they’ve actually been doing it for months now.

“We value the rapid innovation and iteration that is unique to Google Play, and will continue to help developers get their products to market within a matter of hours after submission, rather than days or weeks,” Google’s product manager for Google Play, Eunice Kim, wrote. “In fact, there has been no noticeable change for developers during the rollout.”

It seems that’s the main difference between Android and Apple – the time it takes for apps to be verified, as Apple is known for their lengthy approval process.

In addition to this, Google will also be issuing a new age-based rating system, so the kidz don’t have to be flooded with genitals and gore. Probably.

This means that developers are going to have to fill-in a questionnaire about their new (and existing) apps so that they can be given an accurate rating. The questionnaires are available to developers now and Google reckon that apps “may be blocked in certain territories or for specific users,” if developers don’t submit them by May.

Mario to hit your smartphone

March 18th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

mario 3d tanooki 229x300 Mario to hit your smartphoneNintendo has been struggling with sales for a while and, as everyone expected, their flagship character – Mario – is going to start appearing on a smartphone near you.

The gaming company are teaming-up with DeNA to develop games for smartphone devices. With Mario and Pokemon in their armoury, Nintendo could make a killing. As a result of this news, Nintendo’s shares shot up by 21.3%.

Their model of keeping titles to one platform has been desperately old-fashioned for a while now, and now they’re branching out, the market is very happy indeed. Could this mean we end up seeing Zelda on the PlayStation?

This is a big deal for Nintendo as President Satoru Iwata had previously stated that any moves toward mobiles and tablets would see the company risking a hollowing out of their core business and what has been described as ‘cannibalising’ the value of their creations.

Later this year, there’s going to be a launch for an online membership service which will be accessible on mobile devices.

“This will allow us to build a bridge between smart devices and gaming consoles,” Nintendo President Satoru Iwata told reporters, adding, “It doesn’t mean smart devices will eat away at gaming consoles, it will create an entirely new type of demand.”

2015 Budget predictions?

March 17th, 2015 No Comments By Thewlis

budgetcuts 200x300 2015 Budget predictions?George’s final Budget (of this parliament anyway, we can’t guarantee whether he’ll be here or not come May) will be delivered to the House tomorrow, and the grapevine is unusually light on rumours as to what surprises might pop out of that red box. However, the Chancellor himself has promised “no giveaways, no gimmicks” in this week’s Budget, but here are a few things we think we might see tomorrow, that might will improve your pocket’s prospects.

This time around,  falling inflation and lower interest rates mean payments on the national debt will be reduced, which could give the Chancellor room to provide a tax break for middle-income families- the OBR is widely expected to announce a £6bn cut in government borrowing for 2015-16. However, George has to balance the extra wriggle room he has available, with whether he wants to save the juicy stuff for election manifestos instead…

What he could do is raise the personal income tax allowance to  £11,000, a £500 increase on the previously announced £10,500 from this April.  People earning below that amount every year wouldn’t have to pay any income tax at all, and everyone else would save a little bit on their annual tax bill.

Other potential changes affecting individuals could see an increase in the inheritance tax nil rate band- bearing in mind earlier promises to get it to £1 million by 2020, which would be good news for all those owning property in London and the South East. However, on the flip side, it has been suggested that the Chancellor might look to raise cash by announcing the withdrawal of private residence relief on houses worth more than £2 million.  Under current rules, UK residents don’t pay capital gains tax when selling their home, but it could be limited to provide relief only on where proceeds are under £2m. This would also take the wind out of Labour’s mansion tax sails in an election campaign face off.

Finally, to help low-paid workers, George could raise the level at which National Insurance contributions kick in. This would help lower earners, as this has become a bigger issue for low earners than their income tax while the NI threshold remains so much further behind the income tax personal allowance.

 

Free LG smartwatch with LG G Flex 2

March 13th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

There’s people who really don’t see the point in smartwatches. We know this because they talk about smartwatches more than any other human on Earth.

For those quietly interested in such a thing, who just so happen to be looking at getting a new phone – here’s a thing you should know about.

If you’re eyeing up a new LG G Flex 2 curved smartphone, then you might want to look at Vodafone’s deal where you get the phone bundled with a free LG G Watch R. You’ll need to sign up for a monthly contract on Red 4G.

 Free LG smartwatch with LG G Flex 2

Of course, if the idea of signing up with Vodafone and having a curved mobile makes you vomit into your lap, then this deal won’t be for you. However, this isn’t a bad way of getting into wearable technology if you don’t want to fork out for a separate watch or whatever.

However, the cost of the actual G Flex 2 plans are quite pricey, so weigh that up first. 4G tariffs start at £39.50 per month (with an extra £19 for the hardware) which comes with unlimited minutes and texts, 4GB of 4G data.

If that all sounds like a complete swizz, then you’ll have to wait until prices start dropping on smartwatches when the competition heats up around Christmas 2015.

Ofcom kick off digital UK review

March 12th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

4Gmasts 300x168 Ofcom kick off digital UK reviewOfcom is conducting an “overarching review” of the UK’s digital communications markets after they noticed “huge changes” to the ways us lot use digital services.

They’ve realised that, over the last decade, the market for mobile, landline and broadband had transformed dramatically and that, under their review, they’d be looking at “various potential mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and partnerships in the sector.”

The last time Ofcom got stuck into all this, we ended up with new rules which allowed competing telecoms companies to access BT’s network on equal terms, so there’d be more competition with phone and broadband services.

“We have seen huge changes in the phone and broadband markets since our last major review a decade ago,” said Steve Unger, Ofcom’s acting chief executive. “Only five years ago, hardly any of us had used a tablet computer, high-definition streaming or 4G mobile broadband.”

“The boundaries between landline, mobile and broadband services continue to blur, and people are enjoying faster services on a growing range of devices. Our new review will mean Ofcom’s rules continue to meet the needs of consumers and businesses by supporting competition and investment for years to come.”

There’s been some furrowed brows about the whole thing, with concern thrown at BT’s acquisition of EE, which saw analysts worrying that Europe could be waddling toward a “remonopolisation” of the telecoms sector.

“A decade ago, Ofcom failed to break up BT and instead created Openreach,” said Dido Harding, the chief executive of Talk Talk. “Whilst the last 10 years have seen a lowering of prices and increased take-up, it is increasingly clear that the current market structure is not fit for purpose.”

Obligatory Apple Smartwatch article

March 10th, 2015 15 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Apple, as you’ll know, have announced things about their smartwatch. By law, we’re obliged to write about it or someone will kick down our door and thrash us to within an inch of our lives.

So, if you’re interested in the new Apple device and want to start queueing up right now, here’s what you need to know:

apple watch 500x334 Obligatory Apple Smartwatch article

- It’ll cost you $349 for the smaller one. $399 for the larger one.
- It’ll be available to pre-order in Europe and America on April 10th and you’ll be able to buy it from April 24th.
- There’s a solid gold one and which will cost you loads of money. If you need to ask ‘how much?’ then you’re not wealthy enough to buy one.
- The phone will be like a second screen for your iPhone, which means you can leave your phone in your pocket if you like.
- You’ll be able to control your settings and that via a dedicated iPhone app.
- There’ll be loads of voice controlled stuff.
- The watch will log the rate of your heart and an accelerometer which will track how active you are.
- Apple CEO Tim Cook says: “In addition to being a beautiful object, the Apple watch is the most advanced timepiece ever created; it’s a revolutionary way to connect to others; and it’s a comprehensive health and fitness companion. We make products that enhance people’s lives, and the Apple Watch carries that to a new level. [It] tracks your daily movement, and it even reminds you if you’ve been sitting too long. It’s like having a coach on your wrist.”
- The phone’s battery will last for 18 hours of typical use.

If you need to know anything else, then surely you know how the internet works so you can salivate over every single minuscule detail of Apple’s new smartwatch

Who is the biggest mobile maker in the world?

March 5th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

mobile apps Who is the biggest mobile maker in the world?

People, for some inexplicable reason, argue about mobile phones. Well, for those of you who do, who take stock in things like ‘most successful’ and the like, Apple have overtaken Samsung as the world’s biggest smartphone maker.

They sold more mobiles over Christmas than any other brand, thanks to the Chinese going crazy for iPhones. And there’s a fantastically large amount of sales going on too, with Apple selling 74.8m phones, pipping Samsung at the post with their sales of 73m.

It is good news for Apple as their sales were up nearly 25m from the same period the previous year, which saw them making a not too shabby £11.8bn profit.

Obviously, this is going to worry some people at Samsung who have seen their sales falling. They sold 10m fewer phones than the previous year.

Might be something to do with the collective ‘meh’ at the Galaxy S5. Still, at least they’ve got a pair of phones coming out soon, one which will be curved for seemingly no reason.

Another thing chipping away at Samsung is the rise of Chinese businesses like Xiaomi, Huawei and Lenovo, providing phones at lower prices, which is making them very appealing to younger consumers. Of course, Samsung are teetering on the precipice and still doing well for themselves across the planet, but they’ll be all too aware of the fact that a large mobile maker can fall out of favour very, very quickly. Just look at the state BlackBerry got themselves in.

EU to keep mobile roaming charges

March 5th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Mobile phone holiday beach GUIDE 01 EU to keep mobile roaming chargesWe reported a while ago, that the EU was all set to abolish roaming charges. However, that may not be the case now, as they’re going to be here for another 3 years.

The pointless and outdated charges were to come into play this summer, but now, roaming charges are going to stay until the end of 2018. And only then, the situation will be reviewed. With the average Brit spending £120 on these charges, this is a bit of a kick in the pants.

The telecoms industry aren’t happy about this either, as they say that this will affect their revenues, presumably because holidaymakers will prefer to switch their phones off while abroad, rather than use them. That said, they’ll happily take the money of those who do use their phones, so they won’t be too annoyed at all this.

A number of consumer groups across Europe, who have joined forces at the BEUC, have called this u-turn ‘outrageous’ and that ‘roaming is not justifiable in a single market.’

Only last year, the UK was planning on getting together with other European countries to sort out a fairer system which would abolish roaming charges, whereas now, everyone’s going to have to work out a common position with the European Parliament and Commission before any changes come to the fore.

“EU member states should hang their heads in shame,” said Belgian MEP and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group leader Guy Verhofstadt.