Posts Tagged ‘mobile’


Microsoft Tag, Not Just Any Old Tag

May 5, 2009

I was tempted to write about Microsoft Tag when Long Zheng mentioned it over on his blog in January, but other than being a new format in the tag-space there wasn’t much else to it other than carrying more data in a smaller area than say a standard QRCode.

QRCode and Data Matrix Codes (for reference not size comparison: qrcode

Here is a Microsoft Tag (again, for reference only): Microsoft Tag

What makes Microsoft worth writing about this time around, is the way the use of colours in the tag can be exploited to place tags in pictures or to generate tags from pictures. So, instead of a dirty great QRcode on your product, or even a bunch of harshly coloured triangles on the front of a product, website or advertisement, the tag can be integrated into an image or colouring that blends in more with the branding of the location it is placed. Below is an example and an animated gif showing how an image can be created around a tag.

CustomTagCreation - Courtesy of JellyBeanTag - Courtesy of

You can read more about custom Microsoft Tags here.

To download the Microsoft Tag app for your mobile device go to from your phone


Microsoft Vine, the Social Emergency Tool

April 29, 2009

vinelogo Microsoft have been working on what at first glance, might look like a Live Messenger like utility. What differs with Vine is that it is focused on staying in contact with those that are close to you in times of need, such as natural disasters, maybe riots or any situation where you might want to make arrange a quick plan for safety or survival. With the communication features that are built in, it could be used beyond this into everyday group organisation.

Consisting of a single window with three main panes/tabs: Vitals; Places; and People, the dashboard can receive emergency or news updates and these are displayed on a map in the Vitals pane in the form of push pins. Below the map is also a number of pushpins representing your contacts who may have alerts of their own which you can see.  Hovering on the push pins on the map, as with online mapping services, provides a small popup with more information about the event/situation. Clicking on the popup will open up the source in a browser window. You can view any area of the map where you have specified a contact or location important to you. The application can pull in headlines from over 20,000 media sources as well as safety information from the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Hopefully this will provide a heads up of impending events before one gets in contact with another news source or the event itself.

Microsoft Vine Dashboard The Places window allows you to set up locations that you would like to have available to you on the main Vitals map. In the People window, individuals and groups of people can be added. These could be friends and family, your local football team, maybe even the local bar who could use it to advertise their offers at short notice! With the ability to add people into groups, one can message an entire group without having to add each contact one by one, instead using a short code/name that can be assigned to a group.

When creating an alert, the dashboard pane changes layout akin to that of an email with ‘Subject’, ‘Message’ and ‘Send To’ fields.

The Post Report button allows contacts to respond to alerts or send out their own unsolicited report on their own situation such as ‘Okay’ and ‘Not Okay’ with further detail if required as well such as being able to select one of four types of report: Check in safe and well; Report upcoming plans; Report a situation; and General information, allowing recipients to evaluate the importance of the report.

When receiving an alert, much like other instant messengers, a small window pops up with the message/alert and a box enabling you to reply. These reports can be received via mobile and email also, with mobile alerts being chargeable.

Microsoft intends to make this service available through other mediums such as Facebook and Twitter etc. No doubt one will be able to send out as well as receive alerts via their preferred social networking site.

Microsoft Vine People I care about The few advantages this application has over a dedicated instant messenger, such as Windows Live Messenger and existing contact methods is the availability of a map and incoming reports on selected areas. The map and reports can provide alerts ahead of time, providing someone is watching the application at the time of an alert and the updates provide a notification to the user if the application is minimised or in the background.  Additionally the four simple reports and Okay, Not Okay option gives a clear message of someone’s status, as long as it isn’t abused in non-emergencies.

What could be done is to incorporate GPS data of those willing to transmit their information, à la Google Latitude. This GPS information would allow the important Places to be updated dynamically on a concerned contact’s desktop app, without the user having to keep tabs on the movements of their contacts and thus receiving news and emergency alerts on the new location of their contact. Of course, this GPS option would require a privacy option allowing users to limit which contacts are able to see the dynamic location updates in their Vine application.

With GPS in mobile devices becoming almost the norm, a mobile version of this app would integrate well with a mobile internet connection. A message, via SMS or preferably through the app, could be sent to the mobile user if they move into an area with a warning or if a warning comes up in the area they are in.

At present, without the early warning information sources, this just becomes a basic messenger service which can be rendered equally useless should existing methods of communication such as mobile, internet and telephony services go down in an emergency event.

Currently, Vine is in beta and you can see a brief video of it in action at


MWC 2009 Barcelona – Best of the Rest

February 17, 2009

HTC had a conference of their own at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in which two new handsets were unveiled. The HTC Touch Diamond2 and the HTC Touch Pro2 were presented with the theme that 2009 is going to be about simplifying how we communicate with people. The handsets will both have the TouchFLO 3D interface which has been integrated even further into a customised Windows Mobile 6.1, this should bring features, that were previously only accessible by leaving the TouchFLO interface, into TouchFLO.

Both handsets feature a touch-sensitive area below the screen that can be used as a zoom control for webpages or documents and messages.

As part of the connecting with people agenda, communications between people are shown in a list regardless of how the contact was made. If you received an email from Jim, and then an SMS text message this would show in the one list, rather than having to check your email client and your SMS inbox individually.


The Touch Diamond2 features a 3.2 inch VGA screen, 50% better battery life and gravity sensor as well as expandable storage. Expected in Europe and Asia in Q2 2009 and global release later in the year.

htc touch pro2

HTC’s Touch Pro2 has a larger 3.6 inch VGA screen and a slide out Qwerty keyboard over the Diamond2. The feature that is most interesting on this handset is the Straight Talk and speakerphone function. Turn the phone over and it becomes a conference call system. Available from early summer in major markets.

Sony Ericsson are showcasing the Idou which ups the camera megapixel race to 12MP although I’d like to see the image quality improve on mobile devices as opposed to the size/resolution. The SE Idou sports a 3.5 inch 16:9 widescreen at a with a resolution of 640 x 320. The screen is touch sensitive and this video at Engadget Mobile gives a great demo of it and shows how responsive the interface is. Also the device has in built in GPS and the whole caboodle runs the Symbian operating system but with the SE interface on top.

Samsung’s touch screen Memoir, whose casing on the front looks similar in design to the Idou (maybe I need my eyes tested), sports an 8MP camera and according to Engadget Mobile is being released in the USA on the 25th of February so that slightly trumps the Sony Ericsson handset for now. As with many handsets of this range, the unit includes GPS and an accelerometer. There is also face and smile detection for the camera. Another hands-on video courtesy of Engadget Mobile.

Staying with touch screen devices, Samsung’s OmniaHD features an OLED screen a whopping 3.7 inch screen at a resolution of 360 x 640. Accelerometer, GPS, face and smile detection on an 8MP camera. This handset also runs a Symbian OS. Expected release sometime Q2 2009.


Having seen people create concepts for phones that are totally transparent, looking like nothing more than a plate of glass which doubles as an LCD screen with etchings for a keypad, it was surprising to see LG going after such a design. LG have announced the GD900, due for Q2 2009, which features a transparent keypad made from a single piece of transparent material and is illuminated by a ‘glow’ of light. With the transparent and flexible battery already invented and flexible displays available how long before we see a see-through roll-up phone? It would make a nice communicator wrist unit or bracelet, would it not?


Remember LG’s touch screen watch phone, the LG  G910? Yesterday Orange announced that it would be the first network to carry the device in Europe. No word on pricing in the press release but it says the device will be available “…later this year.” If that’s the bezel they’re going to use, then count me out, I’ll wait for it on another network! On the other hand, you may like it.


During the rest of the Mobile World Congress, other handsets and services besides those from Nokia and Microsoft were announced. In particular, HTC revealed another handset, one of which may be perceived to be the G2, successor to the T-Mobile G1. The handset hasn’t been labelled as such and is instead the HTC Magic. The Magic will be exclusive for a limited time on Vodafone – thank goodness, last thing we want are network exclusive handsets to limit competition between networks.

The HTC Magic doesn’t have a physical keyboard other than the buttons below the screen, one has to rely on the touch-screen keyboard. It has the trackball as seen on the G1 and a 3.2 inch screen with a 320×480 resolution touch-screen and a 3.2MP camera. As Engadget Mobile noticed, there isn’t a 3.5mm headphone jack on the handset, again.

HTC Magic 

It looks like the Android bandwagon is gaining momentum and a buyer looking for an open source mobile operating system won’t be limited to the G1 for much longer.

Also spotted on Engadget Mobile (since I couldn’t go to the MWC) was possibly the ultimate Android handset, well, it’s more like the size of a desktop calculator. Texas Instruments’ OMAP3420 device has a 4.1inch touch-screen display, 16GB built-in storage and SD card slot, full qwerty keyboard, HDMI out(!), wifi, 8MP camera and the option of a 3G model. It will set you back $1150 for the wifi only model and $1399 for the 3G model and that’s probably data only. Still, I think I have a coat pocket big enough for it. See more of this unit at Engadget Mobile.

tags: MWC 2009, mobile world congress, conference, Barcelona, HTC, Touch, Pro2, Diamond2, Samsung, Memoir, OmniaHD, LG, GD900, G910, Sony Ericsson, Idou, Mobile, touch, screen, concept


Google Latitude now lets you stalk friends!

February 4, 2009

I’m trying out a different post method for this one in an attempt to get to the point!

Today, Google launched Latitude, which is a location based feature integrated into Google Maps and accessible from the iGoogle and most expandable mobile devices.

Who: Google

What: Google Latitude – a location aware app that lets you see where your friends/contacts are on a map and lets you provide your GPS location information via a GPS enabled device for others to see. Manual location selection is available.

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