Goodbye Three, Hello EE

A month ago I finally switched away from Three after a couple of years dealing with a number of issues with them. Mostly due to price and unlimited data I stuck by Three but at work I invariably would have limited data or no data connection at all.

The final straw was at the end of March when I couldn’t even make or receive calls at work. I’d leave the office and get a text saying I had a voice message. No missed call, no text or call at the time…hours after a call I’d get notified that I’d got a message. This wasn’t just one day and went on for a couple of weeks. As per the last couple of times I contacted Three’s engineers, no faults in the area and it must be my phone despite others in the office on Three having the same problems. I’d also call voicemail and get disconnected after 20 seconds – constantly. So frustrating.

So after waiting and getting 4G in Glasgow on Three it was time to move on and I went for EE as they had tweaked there prices to make it slightly more competitive and their speeds at my workplace were excellent. Monthly contract, 4GB of 4G data for £23. Unlimited everything else so not too bad.

The initial on boarding with EE was dreadful. I phoned up to see if there were any deals and got a price higher than the website. Mentioned the website price and was told to sign up there then. Charming. The signup on the website was awful. Multiple attempts to try and complete the form which kept resetting back to the start of the process. After 30 mins I’d finally got the application submitted to be told that I’d get a phone call from EE so they can check the order before it can be accepted – whats the point of that?

The phone call was quick and a couple of days later I had my new sim. 4G speeds in Glasgow are excellent and I’ve had no issues at all with connectivity over the last month.

4G speeds at work
4G speeds at work

One issue I did have was the initial transfer of the mobile number. It took three days instead of one and I kept getting text messages welcoming me to EE, then T-Mobile then finally to EE. Hey ho, it all worked in the end.

The last niggle was how much data would I use? The first month saw me use 3.2GB out of 4GB. So not too bad, under my limit although that included a week off work which saw me using less data as I was at home more.

One unexpected positive was a sharp increase in battery life. I’d typically come home from work with around 10-30% battery life and I’d put that down to iOS 7 and my usage of apps during the day. However the shift to EE has seen battery life of 40-70% when I get home. I’m assuming that the iPhone is wasting a lot of battery hunting for data while I was with Three that it isn’t now doing with EE.

So far, so good. Great 4G speeds, a reliable data connection, app’s are snappy on 4G compared to 3G and I can even make phone calls too. Bonus. I really do wish I’d moved from Three months ago but stubbornly I expected the issues to be resolved. They weren’t. If you are with a mobile company and having issues then change providers. Life’s too short.

How In-app Purchases Has Destroyed The Industry

Great post from Thomas Baekdal that has gained a lot of attention on Twitter and other blogs on In-App Purchasing and how it has destroyed, not just destroying, gaming. Many have focussed on the fact it has ruined iOS as a gaming platform. Looking at the top grossing app’s today it’s galling to see just how large some of the IAP options cost.





The screens above are from just a few of the top grossing games on the iPad. The amounts are horrific when you consider a PS4 or Xbox One full price game is around £49.99. Hard to see how this will change though. I don’t buy into the freemium games model and refuse to start a game that relies on IAP as a way to play. I’m sure many gamers are the same but it looks like the majority of casual gamers see it as a legitimate way to play.

What’s worse is the creep of IAP into full price gaming. Forza 5 for example has some shocking IAP’s for a full price game. I don’t think gaming on iOS or Android is finished, rather there’s a need for Apple and Google to make a stand against some of the ridiculous IAP offerings that developers are allowed to make. I also think the industry as a whole should be marking down these titles – use the app store reviews to mark these titles as 1 star, game review sites should be warning people accordingly too. Ultimately though it’s only by not handing over cash so readily that we will see a reverse in this trend. Wake up people.

GrooveShield Form

New CaseThe iPhone is a lovely device and I didn’t want to use it without some form of case. The day after purchasing the phone I picked up a Griffin Wave from the Apple store as there really wasn’t much else available on day one for the 3G iPhone. It did it’s job and protected the iPhone well but it was pretty ugly and also as the edge covered part of the screen it made cleaning the screen quite awkward. Shakeel was up last week and as soon as I saw his case I knew I had to change to it – the GrooveShield Form.

This clips over the back of the iPhone protecting the area which is prone to scratching and also gives slightly more grip than a naked iPhone. What I like the most is that it’s a hard case but also thin, so the iPhone doesn’t lose it’s looks which it did with the previous case. It’s also light and you hardly notice that a case is being used. The silver edging around the front of the phone is also still visible as is the whole front surface which makes cleaning the screen very easy. All the controls are easily accessible with the case on although the iPhone won’t fit in a dock unless the case is removed.

SmashedBest thing is that the case only cost £12 which is a real bargain. However it won’t protect the iPhone fully. One of my friends at work dropped his phone last week…onto a small stone. The result can be seen here – very nasty. He hopes to fix it himself – good luck! I don’t think it will be that straightforward.

iPhone 3 Months On

So how is the iPhone after a few months. The 2.1 addressed all my issues and since then it’s been great. Really enjoy using it. I know enjoy sounds a bit daft but I get so much more usage out of the iPhone compared to previous phones. It really does feel like a mobile extension to my Mac’s at home.

It’s missing obvious things like copy and paste, and sending sms to multiple addresses though. Browsing through Please Fix the iPhone also shows some of the niggles that could easily be addressed in a software update. Horizontal typing in e-mail, preferences on auto loading images in Mail, Safari crashes, the screen as a button for taking photo’s (at least make the button bigger!), changing backgrounds, adding custom text alert sounds etc etc etc. Instead the next software update is focussing on…public transit and street view additions to the Map app. While nice, it ain’t on my essential list. I guess the more obvious stuff plus things like bigger memory iPhone’s and a better quality camera will be kept back for next years new hardware upgrade.

Anyway, I was reading Gordon’s list of app’s so I thought I would do my own. Warning – it’s a long list as I do go through a lot of apps.

  • Evernote – Free – Syncs with the online notes, image and PDF capturing service. Updates have brought proper note editing and the voice notes and quick image snaps sync to the website and hence Mac and PC clients really quickly. Would be nice to select certain notes for offline storage on the iPhone.
  • Twinkle – Free – One of the three Twitter clients I have installed. Usually the one I use most as it lets me see tweets local to where I am. Also supports Twitpics and comes with a built in browser so it doesn’t quit out to Safari when viewing a link.
  • Locly – Free – Finds shops and services in your area based on your location. Quick and pretty reliable when I’ve been working away from home.
  • Exposure – Free or £5.99. A much improved Flickr viewer. First version was pretty slow but it is now a lot quicker. I like it for browsing the popular pics on Flickr. Uploading of pics to Flickr is coming soon. Allegedly.
  • Klick – Free – Another Flickr viewer. Faster than Exposure and also has a nicer browsing method – flick your finger to move between photo’s. Download this instead of Exposure, at least until Exposure let’s you upload photo’s to Flickr.
  • – Free – Excellent music player and artist finder. Based on your listening habits, radio station can be easily created and listened to over wi-fi and 3G. Using this far more than I thought I would. Lovely app.
  • Tuner – £3.49 – Browse and listen to hundreds (thousands?) of MP3/AAC streams. Works well although very little UK content.
  • Simplify – Free – Another audio streaming app. The difference is that your listening to your iTunes library and streaming it from home. Or your friends stream. To be honest I’d stopped using it due to buggy memory hogging Mac client but that is now fixed…and I’ve used it quite a bit over the last week. Who needs a large iPhone now.
  • Remote – Free – From Apple, control your iTunes playback from the iPhone. Does work very well but will only be useful if you have the Mac set up with speakers and you need to control from a distance. If it played back on the iPhone it would be far more useful.
  • Facebook – Free – Great client for Facebook, although I don’t use Facebook to often.
  • WordPress – Free – Allows you to post and edit your blog from the iPhone. It’s ok but could do with more easy roots into comments and admin of the blog. No real update since release.
  • IM+ – Free – Nice free IM client that connects to all the common protocols. Preferred to Palringo as it required a seperate login which IM+ doesn’t.
  • Bloomberg – Great business app. Allows you to track shares, show share price graphs dating back to a year and has currencies, commodities etc. Been a great bearer of bad news over the last few weeks.
  • 1Password – Free – Syncs with 1Password desktop client for sharing passwords and notes securely. I find this pretty invaluable.
  • AirSharing – Was free, now £3.99 – Drag files to the Mac and view via this client. Works OK although struggles with some file formats that A.I. Disk works with.
  • Twitterriffic – Free or £5.99 – ANother Twitter client. Updated version is very nice although doesn’t have location features of Twinkle or Twittelator. Nicest interface though.
  • Vicinity – £1.79 – An early purchase that I no longer use. Finds shops and services in your area based on your location but Locly does it better and for free.
  • Super Monkey Ball – £5.99 – Great game, reminds me of console version and gets very tricky. Recommended.
  • MotionX Poker – £1.19 – Bargain game. Shake the iPhone and roll the dice. Still playing it today if I’ve a couple of mins to fill.
  • Texas Hold’em – £2.99 – From Apple – a really nice poker game. Recommended.
  • Real Football 2009 – £5.99 – A great demo of what games on the iPhone can do. A football game with a transparent d pad and buttons on the screen. Actually plays a pretty good game of football. Teams and presentation are superb.
  • Enigmo – £1.19 – Now reduced in price this is a nice physics based game. The concept and graphics are great although the controls can be fiddly.
  • Aki Mahjong – £2.99 – I love Mahjong and this looks and plays wonderfully. Highly recommended.
  • Solitaire Top 3 – £2.39 – Klondike, FreeCell and Spider solitaire. Plays well.
  • Cube Runner – Free – Guide your spaceship by tilting the iPhone. Simple game and graphics but nicely done.
  • Band – £2.39 – Play drums, base or piano. Nicely done but I never use it. First day purchase spree!
  • Tap Tap Revenge – Free – Think guitar hero but on the iPhone. Plays well and has online scoreboards.
  • Trism – £1.79 – A great little puzzle game with nice graphics and sounds. Quite addictive.
  • Wurdle – £1.19 – Nice word based puzzle game. Recommended.
  • Units – Free – Unit converter with lot’s of conversion options including currency. Not used often but very handy.
  • Movies – Free – Shows what’s on at the local cinema’s, again based on your location. Also shows trailers for movies and DVD’s but those are for American release dates. Again not used often but very handy.
  • iFooty – Free – Great little app that lets you track scores, live games and team news for all the English leagues and Scottish Premier. Same info as on BBC website but better presented and easier to use.
  • ShoZu – Free – I use it to upload to Flickr but it connects to a load of social netwrok for sharing photo’s, commenting etc.
  • Trailguru – Free – Captures walks, runs, biking etc via GPS and allows you to upload to their website. Trying this and Runkeeper to see what one works out the best.
  • RunKeeper – Free – Very similar feature set to Trailguru. First test was very accurate.
  • AeroWeather – Free – Downloads latest weather readings from any number of airports from around the world. I love little weather app’s – this tells you currently what is happening but does no forecasting. Still, lovely little app that’s very handy.
  • SleepOver – £1.79 – Sends a magic packet over Lan or internet to wake a PC…or Mac. My iMac is always asleep but the router is configured to pass on the magic packet from SleepOver and wake it – I can then use it for streaming from Simplify for example.
  • Mocha VNC Lite – Free – Let’s me VNC to my home Mac. Very handy and very powerful.
  • Twittelator Pro – £2.99 – Yes. Third Twitter client and the only one I’ve paid for. Shakeel recommended this and it does have some unique features. It supports adding little icons (dingbats) to tweets, you can see threaded conversations, easily see followers of other users and nicest feature is you can see trending topics from other twitter users. Lot’s of features but probably the worst interface. Also lets you see local tweets, but those are different to the local ones in Twinkle.
  • AroundMe – Free – Similar to Locly. Find local services based on location. Handy to have.
  • Fring – Free – Nice IM client that also supports VOIP to Skype. Don’t use IM too often on the iPhone but this is now the client of choice for me.
  • Trapster – Free – Shows and alerts you to speed camera’s in the area your driving. Content depends on other users updating data. From what I’ve seen it’s not populated with too much at the moment. One to keep in case.
  • Lux Touch – Free – Simple strategy game. Nice alternative to other puzzlers.
  • TV Plus – £2.99 – Fairly new and quickly become my favourite app. Essentially for Sky users it lets you browse a TV guide of all the channels for the next 7 days. The data loads quickly and you can set a local region so that the proper BBC and ITV channels are viewed. You can see information about each programme but the feature I love the most is it support Remote Record. Press the button from anywhere in the world and the record request will be sent to your Sky+ box. used the remote record 8 or 9 times now and it hasn’t failed me once. A fantastic app which every iPhone and Sky+ owner should have.
  • Brightkite – Free – Another social networking site. App is very nice but there are very few users on it. If anyone wants a Brightkite invite let me know – I have a few I can give away.
  • PhotoSwap – Free – Take a picture and send it to random stranger – you then receive a picture. Nice concept but seems to be full of guys looking for guys. One to delete.
  • Google Mobile App – Connects to Google search and other sites quicker than loading up Safari and then finding bookmark.
  • XBLFriends – Free – Add friends from Xbox Live and see if they are online/what they are playing. Handy.
  • A.I. Disk – £4.99 – New for me today – Connects to MobileMe, or any other webdav server. You can browse and view the file contents of these sites on the iPhone. You can also e-mail any of those files. I’ll probably get a lot more usage out of this than Air Sharing.
  • rRootage – Free – A game that reminds me of Everyday Shooter. Has some really nice concepts but no sound at the moment. Gets so busy on the screen that it slows down.

If I was recommending a top five it would be Evernote, TV Plus, Twinkle, and Locly/AroundMe. There’s been quite a few more app’s downloaded, tried and binned. Too many to mention!

I also have home page links to iPlayer, Google, Flickr and Remember The Milk. I’d really like a Remember The Milk dedicated app rather than the Safari based solution at present. Rumour is that such a client is in development and isn’t too far way. iPlayer is used quite a bit as it works so well on the iPhone – I just wish BBC would hurry up and move away from Real streams for radio programs.

So that’s it from a happy iPhone user. I already have a waiting list for those that want to buy my current iPhone when the inevitable upgrade happens next year. How sad.

Some more app’s anyone?

More iPhone chat unfortunately. I threw on three more app’s tonight and all of them are working really well. The first is Vicinity. Using the location services on the iPhone it works out where you are and provides easy access to a list of local services.

VicinityThe first list is to Wikipedia providing snippets to articles from around your locale with links to the full Wikipedia articles. You can also see a list of nearby places. This is a mish mash of all the different important buildings and services that are close to you. You can then see different services in more detail – banks, hotels, restaurants. The list generated was pretty accurate for me and selecting a restaurant allowed you to easily call it and then get a map with directions from your current location. This will be really handy for me as I’m working away from home quite a bit more. Couple of issues though. The list of services is often missing results and those returned can be out of date. Secondly, reading the reviews on the Appstore shows that it’s results are very hit and miss. While it’s only £1.79 to buy, it would be nice to have a demo for some of these app’s.

Next up is Tuner from Nullriver (the people behind the excellent Connect360 and Medialink). Tuner has one role in life – let you browse and listen to internet music streams. The range of streams is massive. In fact it’s pretty bewildering just how many there are but you can bookmark favourites you find over time. Streaming worked really well over wifi and was pretty good on 3G too. What’s really nice is that for £2.99 I have easy access to almost any music I want.

lastfmFinally, some humble pie. I posted at the weekend that I was tired of and didn’t really mind not being able to scroble from the iPhone. The last bit is true but the free app for the iPhone is superb. Amazing. My favourite iPhone app so far. You login in to your profile and via the app you can listen to a radio station based on your previous listens. You can also see what your friends have been listening too and listen to stations based on their tastes. What I really liked was browsing to charts, seeing artists and listening to music from them or similar to them. It worked really fast on wifi with small buffer pauses only. On 3G it worked but was less effective. Buffering was longer and moving to the next track started the buffering process again. But the app is free, the music is free so hard to be too picky. No scrobling either but I’m sure that’s down to the background process nonsense from Apple. Music can be bought from the iTunes store with ease if you like what you hear. Did I mention this was free?

Do you need and Tuner? Probably not but each does generate different results and Tuner wasn’t to expensive. Lot’s of travel tomorrow so be interesting to see how the iPhone performs away from home with more usage and a different, less populated, location.

iPhone 3G – First Impressions

So after Friday’s fiasco yesterday went a lot smoother and I picked up my iPhone without a hitch. Apple called, I went in to the store, was taken by the queue’s and processed within 10 minutes. Sweet but a shame that couldn’t have happened on Friday. So how is the iPhone? Beyond expectations so far.

Front ScreenSetup was straightforward and unlike Friday Apple weren’t activating in store. I popped in the sim, plugged the iPhone into the dock and registered the iPhone via iTunes. O2 then sent three texts with O2 logins, passwords and welcomes. The phone came half charged so you could use it right away. That all took 5 mins. Using the touchscreen for the first time is a joy. The phone feels great in the hand. It’s not too sllppy but it does grease up very quickly. The screen is easily cleaned but the back isn’t. It collects fingerprints and dust/dirt which is hard to remove. Anyone who has a PS3 will know what I mean. I’ll be picking up or ordering a case protector – probably won’t bother with a screen protector though. It looks really durable and if it’s like the last iPhone will be good at resisting scratches. What’s also notable is how loud the speakers are and how clear the reception is. I was impressed and according to Shakeel it’s a step up form the original iPhone. So what did I do first? Hit the Appstore.

I guess I went a little bit crazy and picked up a fair few app’s. I did this via iTunes and they sync’d quickly…but then again they are all pretty small. Since that first splurge I’ve downloaded via the Appstore application on the iPhone. Works really well even over 3G. The nice thing is the Appstore will tell you when updates for your purchases are available. Previous phones have depended on me to update the software which I never did. So, some quick thoughts on the apps.
Continue reading “iPhone 3G – First Impressions”


Took receipt of my new phone today – Sony Ericsson K750i. Since getting a T68i I can’t see past Sony phones – the T610 was next and now the K750i. I’ve only had a few hours to charge and play with it but already it’s very impressive and certainly the most feature rich phone I’ve owned. What wins it for me though is the connectivity.
Continue reading “K750i”