Powa-Tag is a UK based start up that helps you buy things on your mobile while you’re in store (or outside) – and it’s got some powerful big retailers on its side, too.
240 retailers, including HarperCollins, Reebok, Argos and Adidas, are all in partnership with the Point and Click app, which uses QR codes so that you can make instant purchases in a shop without having to queue for the tills. Or you can buy when a shop is closed, or have stuff delivered to you if the store you’re in is out of stock. Basically, you can point your phone at a shop window and buy stuff at midnight when it’s shut. WEIRD.
The app also allows stores to bombard target customers with special offers – which won’t be irritating at all!
But…aren’t QR codes a bit 2009? Wouldn’t it put sales assistants out of a job? And if you want to buy on your mobile, wouldn’t it be easier just to go home, put the kettle on and browse the online store, rather than lurking about outside an empty shop in the middle of the night, waving your phone about?
This old lady is confused.
Are you completely neurotic about your health? Well, join the growing army of the worried well who are using technology to plan, plot and monitor every breath with this new iPhone case from Azoi.
We’ve seen enough wearable health tech in recent months to clog up landfills for millions of years, but this is the first phone CASE that can check your blood pressure while you’re on the move.
The Wello case looks like an ordinary, boring black phone protector, but inside there are multi-purpose sensors that can accurately measure your ECG, blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen and lung function.
It’s a must for health freaks or just people with an abnormally high rate of self-absorption.
All you need to do is hold it in your hand, wait a minute and see whether it flashes red and starts beeping the Funeral March. (Actually, your readings are transferred to an app, which you can show to the doctor when you arrive at A&E, clutching your chest.)
The Wello case is out this summer and will cost £120 – which would probably be better spent on pies because you’re going to DIE ANYWAY.
Volvo recently showed off their new Tablet Crammed Into A Dashboard Thing, and now, Apple have decided to show off their new technology which takes them into the world of motoring.
Basically, Apple are taking iOS into your motor with CarPlay. In short, it is a version of the iOS interface, but simplified so you don’t crash your car while using it. It’ll have voice-controlled stuff, obviously, and interestingly, there’ll be no virtual keyboards.
CarPlay is able to sync up with your calendar and emails, and as a result, will anticipate meetings and give you suggestions for relevant destinations and direct you there. Siri will read your text messages too, while allowing you to dictate a response.
This is all furiously bad news if you’re having an affair.
Of course, you’ll be able to listen to music through iTunes and Spotify and, as yet, Apple aren’t letting many apps through that they don’t own. CarPlay is driven entirely from your phone (iPhone 5, 5s, or 5c). If you’re getting a Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, and have an Android phone, this is a bit useless to you.
More on all that, over at Apple.
The chief exec at EE is irritated by roaming charges and thinks the whole thing is “completely outdated” and that the EU is wrong to have them, meaning that Europe is falling behind everyone else, technologically speaking.
Olaf Swantee wants to get rid of charges for incoming calls in other EU countries by July this year and abolish all roaming charges by 2016.
“I believe that the enormous focus on just roaming charges is wrong. It is completely outdated. Clearly the industry, and I count myself in that, has had big issues in this space in the past, but nowadays it is much, much better,” Swantee said.
“The European authorities should be more concerned about the fact that Europe used to lead mobile telecommunications in terms of networks and new technologies, but now they are trailing Asia and the US. That has an impact on jobs and innovation, which is very important.”
You may have noticed how far behind we all are with the 4G rollout. In North American, upward of 25% of devices are on the 4G network. In Europe, it is as little as 2%. In the UK, EE’s 4G network was described as “poor, but fast” according to independent research. Altogether, it is a poor show seeing as Europe was ahead of the game when it came to 3G.
If you’re getting sick of people looking at their phones while you’re trying to talk to them, then steer clear of Barcelona this week. The Mobile World Congress has begun and it’ll probably be more irritating than a Dom Joly sketch.
But the MWC is a big deal for companies rolling out their new toys, and today sees the unveiling of the waterproof Sony Xperia Z2, with an 5.2inch HD display and Android KitKat software (Mmmm, Kit Kats.)
There are also a lot of wearables, smart watches and health monitoring bands that look like really lame Swatches, and tons of ‘phablets’ – a really annoying word that makes me want to kick a hole in the wall.
And the other big news today is that finally, Nokia has woken up to the 21st Century and actually designed a phone that runs Android, rather than the woeful Windows. Hurray!
But unfortunately, the Nokia X is a bit crap and clunky and has an interface like one of those plastic cracker puzzles where you move the tiles around. It looks cheap because it is – retailing at around 90 euros. And it doesn’t even run Google Play.
Later on, there’s rumoured to be the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5, and tonight Mark Zuckerberg will be delivering the keynote address. And there’ll be ringtones, finger swiping and demonstrations galore from Glassholes in casual shirts. For the next 4 days.
Which is all very well. But does anyone have a battery for an Ericsson?
Seeing as Google just got spurned by WhatsApp, who decided to get in bed with Facebook instead, they’re showing off all the interesting things they’re doing like a jilted groom copping off with everyone in the eyeline of his ex.
With that, Google have showcased a new phone that makes real-time, 3-D maps of environments. The phone will have “customized hardware and software”, which includes sensors which gives the device the ability to make hundreds of thousands of measurements every second, you can map a building or something. It could help those who are visually impaired, which is nice.
“We are physical beings that live in a 3-D world,” says Google says. “Yet, our mobile devices assume that physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen.” Watch the video below if you find written words boring.
So there you go.
A prototype of the device, developed by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects unit is being doled out to 200 developers to play with and is going by the name ‘Project Tango’. If drinks and 80s footballs are anything to go by, Tango is going to be ace!
Like going for a run? Wear your iPod or iPhone (or even, your iPad because you’re a maniac) when you do? Well, Apple are aware of the amount of white earphones you see when people in Lycra charge by, and are looking at getting in on the fitness action.
You’ll no doubt be aware of the volume of people who are keeping fit, thanks to the profoundly annoying social media updates from various fitness wristbands and the like (note – if you’re one of these people, feel free to run into the nearest lagoon and never come back), and Apple have patented their own approach to it all.
They are planning on tracking how fit and well you are through your ears, thanks to some fancy headphones.
The sports monitoring system would put some sensors and accelerometers in the earbuds, which would track your physical activity, how much you’re sweating and what rate your heart is going at. There would also be a separate monitor which you could clip to your clothes or headphones. If Apple get on this, there’ll be no need for Apple Fanboiz to buy separate kit from Nike or whoever.
Here’s an image from the patent, via venturebeat.
The sensor will apparently work with a vertical swipe of the pad, while you keep your finger flat and at a medium swipe speed.
Basically, it is the same as the iPhone 5S from Apple.
S5-havers will be able to register their own fingerprint, as well as seven other prints (you could try a dog’s nose or your nipple) and assign them to various app shortcuts or other tasks. There will be the usual PIN code if you don’t like the idea of using your fingerprints or, indeed, don’t have fingers.
Reports have said that Samsung are also looking at iris-scanning security technology, and execs at the company have confessed that they’re looking into it, but alas, it won’t be appearing on the Galaxy S5.
Landlines aren’t as essential as they once were, but BT have hit on an idea for those who still want a home phone which isn’t bad at all – make a phone that acts like a smartphone.
BT’s new Home SmartPhone S device has a bunch of apps, can access the internet and features ‘Nuisance Call Blocking’ technology that, according to them, allows us to block 80%of unwanted calls.
As well as internet access, the Android-powered phone comes with 2GB of expandable memory to store music and photos, and of course, you can piddle about on Twitter or watch videos on YouTube or whatever. You’ll be able to download extra apps via the Opera apps store.
BT Wifi and Devices director Erik Raphael says: ”The Home SmartPhone S makes the home phone central to family life again, allowing you to look up numbers online and communicate with friends and family via email, Facebook or calls.”
BT launched the BT6500 Nuisance Call Blocker in February last year, but this new handset is clearly one of their better ideas.
Another day, another way to pay for stuff your smartphone. The race to create a secure mobile payment system has been long and arduous, full of unscheduled toilet breaks, but the most convincing platform so far is the dreadfully named Weve, which will be unveiled today. (Weave? We’ve? We HAVE?).
The reason it’s convincing is simple – Mastercard is helping to develop the system, and Vodaphone, 02 and EE are backing it.
Paypal, Google, Zapp, Orange – they’ve all attempted mobile payment platforms, but so far, we’re still not paying for our bread and milk with our iphones.
But Weve was formed by a triumvirate of British mobile companies – which cater for 80% of UK mobile customers – and Mastercard are currently building a system which will link bank cards to SIM cards. Then, they plan to sell the system to individual banks, so that customers can pay using their branded apps. All you do is tap your phone onto a card reader (like an Oyster card) and you’re done.
So will Weve finally put pay to plastic?
‘Mobile payments are the thing that everybody’s talked about but nobody’s managed to do,’ boasted Weve chief executive David Sear, possibly from the saddle of a white steed. ‘It’s been a mess. We bring scale and people with mobile devices. Mastercard is doing the same for bank customers – one infrastructure provided by Mastercard talking to one infrastructure provided by us.’
IT CAN’T FAIL.
Vodafone aren’t Mr Popular at the mobile phone party, especially in Europe. They’ve been dodging tax, helping out the baddies in the Arab Spring and mucking customers about for no reason.
As such, it looks like Europeans are looking elsewhere to get their contracts and it has been reported that Vodafone’s Euro revenues have fallen by around 10%. The company are confident this is just a blip and that everything will be fine once they roll out 4G properly.
“The environment in Europe remains challenging and we have continued to experience intense macroeconomic, regulatory and competitive pressures in the quarter,” said chief exec Vittorio Colao. “The shift to 4G is gaining momentum and we have seen improving mobile customer net addition trends. We are therefore optimistic that our revenue performance will begin to improve as regulatory headwinds ease and customer appetite for video and content services increases.”
Performance in Europe is twice as bad as it was in the September quarter. Germany, Vodafone’s biggest European market, revenues fell by 8% while in Spain and Italy, they fell by 14% and 17% respectively.
Faster mobiles speeds and better coverage are one thing, but the level of hate that Vodafone get compared to their competitors is quite another. Are we getting to the point where people have had enough to such a level that they’ll actually do something about it?
Nuisance phone calls, texts about PPI, mountains of ads through your door – direct marketing has gone haywire recently, and the Direct Marketing Commission says the industry needs a complete overhaul.
The DMC has found huge amounts of phone calls and texts were made by direct marketers in the last year, and that companies were overstepping the mark with the sheer volume of pestering messages they were sending.
And it’s not just the nefarious ways direct marketers try to contact us, it’s how they got our information in the first place. Who gave them your mobile number so they could bombard you about personal injury claims?
Well, a lot of companies are very shady indeed about where they’ve accessed personal data. George Kidd of the DMC said: ‘It’s not acceptable for businesses in this sector not to be able to explain where their data and the permissions on its use came from – or for firms to dupe those they mail and call with mock surveys and ‘research’ – that open the door to sales and marketing calls, texts and emails from total strangers.’
At the moment, Ofcom and the Information Commissioners Office have shared responsibility over the telemarketing industry, but the DMC thinks there should be a separate regulator to tackle the problem of unwanted emails and texts.
May I suggest ‘FuckOffcom?’
We’ve not had any phones blowing up in people’s pockets for a while, almost like it has gone out of fashion – be it the fault of people not making stuff up or phone manufacturers taking the jeopardy and thrill out of phone buying.
So thank the stars for the throwback fun of 13-year-old student from Maine who is now suffering from first and second degree burns after her iPhone exploded into flames while in her pocket.
It has been reported that the young woman was sitting in class when she heard a weird noise coming from her pocket. Then she saw smoke coming from her pants. It wasn’t burning loins, but rather, her gadget was ablaze.
Two fellow students leapt to the student’s assistance while the rest of the class went to find help to put out the fire. Apart from that weird kid at the back of class who probably enjoyed the spectacle.
While trying to help the girl out of her trousers, the iPhone fell out of her pocket, all molten.
There’s no known cause for this incident but obviously, it isn’t the first time it has happened. No matter. The good news is, is that the girl in question was taken to a local treatment centre and was discharged without much fuss.