Category Archives: Wireless

BluePulse: widget or browsing?

If you follow my blog, you have probably seen that I’ve started to look at the concept of “Widget on Mobile”, Micro Widget (or Mobile Widget) with this: MicroWidgets is on the Way.

That’s why this BluePulse announce seemed to me quite interesting. The ideas seems to download “widget”, on your mobile, and get revenu from this. But after trying it, I’ve been a little bit disapointed. The so called widget seems to like more as Web pages. I did not take a look at the SDK yet, but seems to me more an attempt to surf on the Widget wave than a real innovative product. Yes, just like other said, I might be missing something but this is definitevly not Konfabulator for mobile phones.

One of the issue is that there is no caching between sessions, so you do have to reload each time the “pages”, and “pages” are not grouped together, so it really gives the feeling of a browser, without the features!

Regarding business model (which is from what I see not really in place, but planned), it seems subscription based par “channel”, similar to what others are doing (typically imode).

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Fun with GoogleMap

I’ve found this nace racing application just recently: it’s a small javascript that simulate a racing game on top of GoogleMap. As it’s in Japaneese, I’ve just grab the script to and make it run on top of SF, one of my favorite spot! ;-). Of course, there is no collision detection with “walls”, but this could be probably implemented using a specific client…If i have time, I would like once do it using my J2meMap framework (or if anybody interested by this?)….
But it’s an interesting example of one of the numerous game that game be done using google map API. I did not see a lot yet, there is this one, a Golf game (nice idea, but bad interface)….

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J2meMap update: issues with search

An update for J2meMap: it seems that Google changed recently the result of the “search” and “direction” requests, moving from XML to HTML.
Not sure if it’s an attempt for third party app (like J2meMap) to stop using their result. But in all case, the “search”, and “direction” feature of J2meMap does not work anymore.
I will try to fix it ASAP, hoping that they won’t do any change in the near future.

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The rationale behind ReqWireless acquisition

Google recently announced the acquisition or ReqWireless, done probably mid of last year. Several posters are questioning the rationale of this acquisition. My previous “guess” was the acquition of Opera (see my Predictions for 2006 ). But ReqWireles is probably cheaper than Opera, and has several interests for Google:

  • It provides a talented team of people. I would not be surprised the GoogleLocal has been partially made thanks to this team. Also, the fact that GoogleLocal client contains a mini browser is a good indication of this.
  • I think that this small browser wills be used to provide a better user experience to end user to access to the Google personalized portal. There is a full XHTML access, but user experience is still average . I would not be surprised if Google provides a “Google personalized client” to access to your email, buddy list, photos, etc in J2me, using partially some microbrowsing based on ReqWireless techno…

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FlashLite: is this really portable?

FlashLogoI’ve just started to look more deeply into FlashLite, as it reach more handset. I’ve found that my K600 haves FlashLite, and tried to get some application for it…I’ve been to MarcordmediaExchange website, and around fourty FlashLite1.1 were here….Great I was thinking..but was is this small notice near the app: SymbianSerie60, and here, Symbian UIQ? waoww…I thought that all FlashLite1.1 were more or less interoperable (just like J2ME). But in fact, all these files were “SIS” file, the one used by Symbian…The nightmare begin! Why? No clue…..

In fact, in the SDK example there were some SWF file to play with: not veyr impressing by the way, and not rendering very well on the K600.

So my first contact with FlashLite was not as good as expected….Please, do not do the same mistake than your competitors, and facilitate true interoperability!

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Google Mobile personalized home page

Google MobileApparently Google just launched a personalized home page. Unfortunatly, the link provided in the Google blog does not seems to work at this time, which is strange as several poster seems to have used it to read some rss feed….

Probably a short term anwser to the Yahoo!Go launch?

Update: it works if you do directly to your mobile to the following link: http://google.com/xhtml GoogleMobile  snapshot
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SyncML is a reality?

One of the most interesting things from the Yahoo!Go connect announcement from Yahoo, was the ability to use SyncML to synchronise your account with your address book, calendar, etc…
Waoow I was thinking, at least it happens….. Let’s try it…

And big disappointment:

What is really strange and weird is that the server seems to filter only to a subset of ten supported phones! Do not really understand why, as SyncML should be standard…. The users who are able to configure SyncML (which is in fact the real challenge) then are blocked because they do not have the right phone. What is the point here? Is there a technical challenge that we do not know?
But let’s assume it’s just a temporary situation, I really believe that SyncML then will be huge. Of course, there is a lot of remaining issues, like settings as usual. So Operator position on this topic will be quite interesting.

Can Ajax save mobile development?

In this post: why mobile AJAX will replace both J2ME and XHTML as the preferred platform for mobile applications development, Ajit Jaokar explains his view on this topic.

And like Tom Hume in this paper, I disagree with most of his conclusion.

I am a big fan of Ajax (even if I think it’s totally over hyped), and I also personally think that it haves a great potential on mobile, but this kind of statement can only make me react….
His argument is based on the fact Ajax will solve the three following issues:

a) The problem of market fragmentation
b) Porting woes (specific to downloading applications like those built on J2ME)
c) Application distribution without ‘walls’

That’s true that market fragmentation is a big issue on mobile. But he did not give any clue why Ajax (so browser based application) will do better than J2me to solve market fragmentation.

The porting woes are also a real problem in mobile world. But this statement is totally false:

To make your [30] games available worldwide in five languages and on only 50 devices, you would need to create 7,500 different builds. At $2,500 per build, you would require a budget of nearly $19 million simply to handle porting.

First, this is totally wrong. Usually porting costs represent around 100% of the price of the game development (in the Java world, excluding different version like 2D/3D). It’s already incredibly huge, but way below this!

But can Ajax solve this issue? For instance, is Ajax used today to do games? Except very simple casual concept games, not really. And on PC there is usually one binary for a game (and one per platform, PC, Xbox, PS, etc…) . While on Ajax there are already several variant depending of the browser (IE,FireFox, etc…). So if Ajax fragmentation appears already on PC, how can it be better on mobile? Ajax developer will face the same issue of usability, screen size, bugs, etc…on numerous mobile platform. Just like J2ME: it’s easy to write a simple cross platform proof of concept. It’s much harder to have a real application running on all devices.

I predict for “Mobile Ajax” the same pattern than for other mobile technologies:

  • first phase: the dream! (write once/run anywhere)
  • second phase: the deception (it does not work as expected except on developer device)
  • third phase: manual porting/adaptation for every different device
  • fourth phase: maturity (a mix of automatic porting with process, devices knowledge and improvements of client )

It happened with Wap, it happens with Java, and it will happen with “MobileAjax”….

So:
- Ajax can not be used to do all the application (and especially not games)
- It will NOT SOLVE the fragmentation issue

Last argument was about application distribution: again, I have no clue why a browser based app would be more widely spread than a downloaded app? The issue is not how to get the application, but how to make it visible: deck placement, advertising, etc… Again, Ajax,J2ME, Brew, etc…issue remains the same…

And do not forget one things also very specific to mobile: even if it’s a very connected device, it’s not always connected to the internet. The difference between offline/online content (through preloaded things, download, caching mechanism, etc…) is much more important than on a desktop. That’s also partof the intelligence of the application, specific to mobile.

Another interesting comment, is why Google (the one who put Ajax in the spotlight) and Yahoo did not choose Ajax to do their mobile client? (if you’ve ever tried to run Google Map on OperaMini, you know why! ;-) ).

And may be there are more creative way to evolve. I really think that Ajax and J2ME offers a perfect mix of technology to create much more creative application, Ajax for the purely “web based” part, J2ME for the more “client based” approach… Again, the MobileWidget experiment is another example of attempt to use this mix between J2ME, XML/HTTP request, and a scripting language in a different way…

Update: see C. Enrique Ortiz

Short feedback on Yahoo!Go client for Serie60

Yahoo!Go
Review of Yahoo ! Go client for Symbian :

Yahoo just provided the ability to download their client on numerous serie60 handset.. So here are a few comments from usage point of view:

http://go.connect.yahoo.com/go/on_your_mobile

  • First surprise, size: it’s huge, 1800kb……especially regarding the fact that it’s native code, and according to functionalities! And it seems that a lot of other stuff is downloaded at the first connection.
  • Once installed, I had very rapidly an “out of memory error”, and I had to start the application again” (I am using a Nokia6680)
  • What you can do: basically, provide an access to MyYahoo from a mobile. More concretely, this mean that:
    • Your address book is synchronized with your MyYahoo address book accoun
    • Your calendar is synchronized with your MyYahoo calendar account
    • You can read your Yahoo email (and being notified when an email is received)
    • You can send photo to your MyYahoo account
    • You can browse the same information than the MyYahoo pages: typically weather, quotes, rss feed you’ve subscribed, etc…
    • You can chat with others users
      • While in a chat session, you can send voice messages
      • While in a chat session, you can send photos
    • You can customize the phone with a yahoo skin (but does not seem that this skin can be updated).
  • From a usability, there is some good things and some bad things:
  • It’s a native symbian application. So no numerous security warning. An SMS is sent to identify yourself.
  • Synchronisation works quite well with, and all the internal address book has been filled with my Yahoo contact base.
  • But some of the menu yahoo categories (news, quotes, etc…) just open the web browser on the selected page. No way to browse off line for instance. Even worst, one page (stock quotes) you are asked again your password/id. But this might be more a bug.
  • The photos album is managed by Yahoo! Photo (and unfortunately not by Flicker, ☺ ).
  • Some more comments and view:
    • The synchronisation is really useful, and it might be a sufficient reason to switch from one service (ex: msn) to another, especially for people who use more IM than Outlook!
    • The link with the camera is also very nice! Might be an “mms killer”: why should a costly MMS to share my picture with others users.
    • And lastly, the chat with picture and photo are really easy and convenient to use!

    So it’s probably one of the first complete “WebToWireless” application.

    Next challenge will be to put such application in the Java world. Not impossible, but will be hard o achieve the same level of integration with the rest of the phone.

    Camera as input devices….

    Just discovered the “littlespringsdesign” blog, which pointed out some really interesting usage about usage of camera within phones, in this entry:

    Mobot does exclusively marketing, but they also have a more general image recognition technology. They target things like allowing users to take pictures of movie posters to get movie info or tickets, brand logos, CD covers, or any sort of printed advertisement to get information or purchase related merchandise (such as ringtones). I expect that the biggest issue with their vision of taking a picture of something like a movie poster rather than a special bar code is that not every movie poster would be in the database, leading to needing to put an extra message on the movie poster – or user frustration and eventual product abandonment.

    Neven Vision appears to have a technology that is similar to, but slightly more generalized than, PaperClick (who specializes in bar codes). Neven Vision’s marketing tool, iScout, uses visual hyperlinks to indicate “clickable” (pict-able?) items. They also have a more generalized product allowing users to take a picture of any product or picture of a product (such as TV or a print ad) that would allow the user to go to an internet site that has the product for sale. Again, until the majority of products are in the database this is likely to result in user frustration and abandonment of the product.

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    MicroWidget is on the way

    Mobile Widget I’ve just decided to start to work on something called “MicroWidget”. MicroWidget will be the equivalent for mobile of Widget, Gadget, or other inspiration source on the mobile….
    Basically, it’s an XML based rendering engine with a tiny scriping language. I’ve used FScriptME as a basis for the scripting language. FScriptME is very limited, but it’s a good start. I’ve added some pseudo object oriented faciclities, like myText.data=”some text”, and some usefull xml parsing function.
    As an example, here is the widget code for a Clock like widget:

    <img src="/clock2.png" />
    
    <script>< ![CDATA[  func onTimerFired() 	timeArr=explode(time()," ") 	hour=explode(timeArr[3],":") 	day.data=timeArr[2] 	secCl.angle =-toint(hour[2])*360/60+180 	minCl.angle =-toint(hour[1])*360/60+180 	hourCl.angle=-toint(hour[0])*360/12+180 	repaint() endfunc  	]]> 	</script>

    The code is pretty short and can be easily understood. The only difficulty is the function “explode”, who create an array from a string.

    Of course, there are plenty of other usefull function to retrive some xml data, to parse them, etc….

    First result are really encouraging, but generate some interesting issue about interface design…

    Technorati tags: JavaMe J2ME Ajax Widget Micro Widget

    Communicating with the external world….


    Interesting announce today:
    TIM unveils Z-SIM SIM card with radio technology“.

    So what does this mean? Another way (one more) for a mobile to communicate with the external world. Not only through GRPS or UMTS as today, but also to interact locally with your physical environment.
    The examples given in this announce are really interesting, like interaction with home appliance, purchasing TV content, parking payment, etc…

    This opens some great opportunities for mobile developers, and also for operators! ;-) Phone (or more accurately Sim card) could be more and more a way to identify yourself beyond just the area of phone calls, and to do transactions, mainly micro-transactions.
    Of course, operator will be the big winner in this scenario as it will manage the transactions, and I would be interesting to see what will be the bank reactions in this scenario. But that’s so annoying to get your credit card out if you want to by a 1€ songs….

    For those who are interested, take a look at JSR257
    , contactless communication API. It cover also things like Visual Smart Tags, a very interesting way to get information from you’re environment by taking a picture of a specific tags, or NFC, which is the extension of RFID in the consumer world…

    Technorati tags:nfc j2me javame

    Electronic Arts to buy Jamdat in $680 mln deal

    Important news for our industry, mobile gaming: EA, the biggest game publisher, just acquired Jamdat, the biggest (for now! ;-) ) player in this space….

    Jamdat Mobile (JMDT:Nasdaq – commentary – research – Cramer’s Take) surged in after-hours trading Thursday following news that Electronic Arts (ERTS:Nasdaq – commentary – research – Cramer’s Take) agreed to buy the cellphone-game publisher at a 19% premium to its close. Electronic Arts will pay $27 a share for Jamdat and assume outstanding stock options, for a total deal value of $680 million. The deal is expected to close during Electronic Arts’ fourth quarter. Shares of Jamdat were up $4.23 to $27 in after-hours trading, while shares of Electronic Arts fell $1.51, or 2.7%, to $54.24.

    The deal value Jamdat at 680$ million…At this price, a very good deal for Jamdat…. A few comments:

    “EA overpaid by $200 (million),” Piper Jaffray analyst Anthony Gikas said in a client note, adding the amount was not material

    “We’re not sure why the company would spend so much to get into the mobile market when it appears that they could have leveraged their content on their own for less money,” Wallace said in a note. He added that EA will probably spend more than $750 million this year on research and development.

    “That’s a lot of console games that could have been developed (or bought),” he said.

    Still, analysts liked the deal, saying that Jamdat and EA are each better off together.

    EA “has had some fits and starts trying to build its wireless division” and adjusting to a “buy” strategy resolves investor qualms about the company’s relative lack of presence in that market, said Paul-Jon McNealy, video game analyst at American Technology Research.

    J2MEMap Update

    Just to announce a new release of J2MEMap, with some great new features:

    • Support of GPS through bluetooth
    • Nice rescaling feature (similar to the GoogleLocal one)
    • WayPoint feature (nice to be use with GPS, in order to know how far you are from your destination, and what is the direction). Not yet really “driving GPS”, but quite cool.
    • Support of touch screen. On the P900, it’s quite fun to play with it…
    • Improved display of routes….
    • Support of GPX for the download of waypoint, track, etc…

    Just like this one:


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    Security, security…



    As I’ve explained, I’ve created also this J2meMap application to play and experiment with most of the J2ME JSR’s….
    After SMS (JSR120), Bluetooth (JSR85), Location Api (JSR179), I’ve played with JSR75 (PIM). The objective was to be able to use the file system of the phone to cache most of the image downloaded from Google. This work fine, except that some phone implementation ask permission to the user EVERY TIME that you access to the file system.
    So, when starting the application, after the first warning (do you allows the application to access to the network), you have another warning (do you allows the application to access to Bluetooth), and a third one (do you allows the application to access to the file system). Fine, unless that on SonyEricsson (my favourite target phone), the right are checked at EVERY access. One check for reading, one check for writing!
    So now, I have numerous user requests that make the usage of file system API impossible…

    How to solve this? Ideally, the midlet needs to be certified, but it’s a long a costly process. And there is no way for the user to say “once for all” that he grant access to the file system.

    So what is the conclusion: the JSR75 is a nice JSR, but current implementation (at least on SE phones) makes it impossible to use it right now….When too much security kill innovation..

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    JBenchmark on mobile


    SPMark now available on mobile… Not sure is it’s a great thing, but you can check by your self. I’ve downloaded the “high end” version, a jar file of around 500kb! I even did not know that it was possible to do such big app! ;-) The application by itself is not yet as impressive at it should be, and others benchmakrs (like www.jbenchmark.com/ ) are already doing some good job.
    And this one need to improve. It reported that my phone did not head the bluetooth API, which seems to bo obviously wrong (see below…)

    Support for Bluetooth GPS in J2ME Map

    This picture show J2ME Map communicating with a Bluetooth enabled head (this is the BETA vrsion, 07.03). This works quite well, and you are able to get your positionning while driving and display it on a Google Map/Virtual Earth Map… That’s quite fun, this probably needs to be linked to other features like direction. One things that is missing in Google Map is reversegeocoding, in other words the ability to get a street adress from your current position, feature which exists anyway in GoogleLocal for mobile!

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