Big platforms such as Google (Drive), Apple (iCloud) and latterly Microsoft (SkyDrive) are driving customers towards cloud services. The move to use these resources is almost certainly inevitable, for the consumer. The constraints are largely down to cost and privacy concerns. For the business user replace the word “privacy” with “security”.
I buy into the future. I have almost universal connectivity, at a price. I also have a growing amount of data being stored on my laptop. My data is currently backed up to two external hard drives, one at home and one in the office. The time is fast approaching where the laptop will run out of hard drive space. It is only a year old so I’m not going to replace it just to get a bigger hard drive.
It’s getting close to decision time on a cloud based strategy.
I started to look at mobile VoIP clients a good 8 or 9 years ago. At the time the handsets were near enough useless – battery life was rubbish and the processors lacked the oomph to properly run a SIP user agent.
The advent of the modern day smart phone has changed all this, together with years of development effort put in to improve the soft clients themselves.
Now, most of us have a VoIP client on our phone – almost certainly Skype, maybe 3CX, Bria or Eyebeam. I stopped counting the number of low cost VoIP calling services that you might use as the target for the mobile VoIP client.
Many desktop VoIP clients are not supported on mobile. So if you use MSN or Facebook or Google+ or Lync even their mobile clients almost certainly do not support voice but are just used for presence and Instant Messaging.
The dwindling list of vendors of Unified Comms equipment offer their own mobile VoIP clients, which necessarily have better functionality than those I’ve just mentioned from the major platforms. Ask Avaya or Mitel about it and they will proudly show off their solution. These vendor specific solutions usually use a third party soft client tailored to their specific need. Bria from Counterpath is one and MobileMax is another.
I am very proud to announce that Timico has introduced its own mobile VoIP client . There are some clear differentiators from the generic soft phones mentioned earlier and used with hosted solutions.
First of all the user’s account is tied to the employer’s VoIP subscription, so the desktop extension and DDI is the same as the mobile. The user interface is also similar to that of the soft client running on the desktop and is controlled using the same familiar portal. Mobile users can not only speak and do video calls with other users of the network, but are able the see the availability of others
There is more to the technology that goes in to making a successful mobile VoIP client than is at first apparent. A little technology primer might serve a useful purpose here. When you speak into a telephone you are using an analogue broadcast service, i.e. your voice. In order to get to the telephone at the far end this analogue signal is converted into data packets (i.e. digitised) and then transmitted using computer networking technology, in our case Internet Protocol and the layers of networking technologies that come under its umbrella.
The sent packets have to traverse a number of hurdles in the guise of different networks and routers before arriving at their intended destination (next door, Australia – anywhere connected to the internet). Voice is very time sensitive. You really notice the difference if there is a delay between the person at the other end speaking and you hearing it, and vice versa. Slow or poor quality hops in the network can affect the quality of the user experience.
Use of mobile networks for VoIP transmission comes with its own specific issues. 3G is a notoriously latency ridden data service and a number of mobile operators actually block VoIP services (although they are far from transparent in their approach to this). It is too early to assess the practical usability of 4G because there is only one service provider in the market and that network will be only lightly used. The issue of cost of bandwidth over a mobile carrier network has also historically made VoIP impracticable in many cases.
WiFi is the sensible alternative. Although even WiFi comes with its own issues with Ethernet style best efforts transmission. Packets that collide with other packets don’t arrive at their destination. The busier the local WiFi network, the more likely you are to suffer from poor quality voice.
In practical terms this is likely to mean if you are sitting in an office with many hot desks where WiFi is the principal means of connecting to corporate resources, then that network is likely to become congested. This congestion may not be particularly noticeable to laptop users just doing emails or general web use.
A congested WiFi network that is ok for most uses might not be good for VoIP. In an office environment this can be engineered around, by creating more cells/hotspots each with fewer users. At home there is far less likely to be a problem although VoIP packets in this scenario are more likely to be using the open internet for transmission.
A VoIP phone is actually a computer that looks like a phone. Fortunately the lost packet compensation and packet processing techniques used in modern mobile VoIP clients (smart phones/computers) are able to overcome many “noisy” environmental scenarios, or at least go a long way towards mitigating their effects.
Timico’s announcement today comes after some time working with partners (Genband) to develop the soft-client. The app is available on the Apple App Store to existing (and new!) Timico VoIP customers and is a piece of cake to install – use of our Mobile Endpoint Provisioning (MEP) portal means all the user has to do is enter a username and password and they are up and running.
The MEP is worth further mention. With the MEP comes the ability to change mobile client settings on-the-fly which provides the Timico operations team with a critical tool for managing your mobile VoIP solution in near real time. There are over 200+ settings that the MEP controls, including default codec selection, NAT traversal settings and the keep-alive timer value.
There are often deployments where we might initially need to make adjustments to these settings to suit the environment in which you use the service. We can do this transparently and without requiring interaction with the end-users.
Another feature to our service that is designed to provide the optimum user experience is our Client QOS notification. The mobile client analyses the RTCP statistics in real time. Should these stats fall below predefined thresholds then the user will receive a notification informing them of ‘network quality issues’.
I’ve been around polling some of the early users and got the following comments:
“I’ve ditched my deskphone and now just use the iPhone app”
“Connects very quickly”
“I was sat in Starbucks in Canada and used it to call the office”
I’m sure that I will have previously mentioned that last year we won the ITSPA Award for the best Enterprise Unified Comms service. This mobile client adds nicely to that existing feature-rich service set. It’s going to be a terrific tool for people who need to make calls out of the office but don’t want to pay extortionate roaming charges or use their own phones.
Because the VoIP service is tied to their company’s business account then all calls just appear on the standard monthly bill. Calls to other internal VoIP users are of course free.
So there we have it. The mobile VoIP client has finally come into the world of reliable, serious business strength communications. If you want to try the service check it out here . Press release yurr1.
Just scanned through a review of the Google Nexus 4 Android handset in the Grauniad. One of the things that caught my attention was the decision to not support an external SD card. Apple has lead the way with doing away with SD cards on the basis that they wanted everyone to do everything through the cloud.
The argument for a removable drive is that you can easily move data on and off the handset. My Galaxy S3 does support an external (micro) SD card but I have to say the only time I ever remove it is when I change handsets which, repair jobs aside, is less frequent than once a year.
Proponents of removable storage also remind us that we are using more and more space for photos and games. The former is certainly true for me but my needs would be accommodated with a large enough internal storage in the first place. What currently happens is that I run out of space on the phone (say) and have to adjust the settings to save media to the SD card which is a manual step that should be unnecessary.
All my pics are automatically backed up the the cloud using Instant Upload over WiFi. Once Instant Upload has done its stuff I then also shift them off the phone via USB to my laptop and once a month (ish) back up to one or two external hard drives. I’m not sure I’ll ever rely totally on the cloud for the backup.
So on balance I agree that we no longer need to support external SD cards as long as the phone itself has a suitably large capacity in the first place which, considering the low cost of memory, should not be difficult. Any growth in storage usage is likely to be down to a change in habits that accompany the use of a new handset so I can’t see that running out of space should be a problem – just make sure you have enough from the off.
EE is doing a good job at building up market expectation. Today the mobile network operator launched its pricing plans, available from the end of this month.
Consumers can have unlimited calls and texts with 500MB of data for £36. Remembering that I used 60MB of data in one minute on the O2 LTE trials I suspect that not many people will stay on this plan. The options are:
I assume that this comes with a phone though it isn’t clear. Their site suggests you can get the Nokia Lumia 920, 820, Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE and Note 2 LTE, HTC One XL and the iPhone5 plus a few other also rans (sorry).
If you use up your data allowance you won’t be able to access the internet until you buy a data add-on (ok). It isn’t entirely clear but it looks like the cost of a data add on is £6 for 500MB or £15 for 2GB so it makes sense to get your plan right in the first place.
I note there is a roaming package for £5 a month though this doesn’t seem to apply to data which in my mind is what I am most likely to use when roaming – checking restaurants, bars, local attractions (library locations etc).
The speeds are quoted at 8 – 12Mps on average.
It also looks as if they will not be blocking VoIP
We have an excellent team in our logistics1 department. Phillipa has efficiently found me a temporary HTC One S whilst my trusty Galaxy S3 is sent back for a new screen. This time it wasn’t a fault of Samsung – the last two times were faulty headset socket and a faulty connector that meant the phone wasn’t charging, or at least only intermittently.
This time the phone was accidentally dropped on a hard floor and unfortunately the display smashed. Ok s*&t happens. It’s gone off to the menders for a week or so and in the meantime I have a temporary HTC One S. The One S is ok but smaller than the Galaxy S3 so I keep hitting the wrong keys. It’s also not quite as high a spec but hey, I only have it for a week or so.
Setting up the One S was very simple, as for all Android phones though I note that with Samsung all the apps I have previously downloaded are re-installed on a new phone whereas this hasn’t happened with HTC. This is probably a Samsung service that might well be replicated by HTC but I clearly haven’t signed up for it.
Anyway when I handed the S3 in to Phillipa in logistics1
One of my beefs with Apple has been that you have to give them your credit card details when setting up an iTunes account. For the uninitiated, the independent of mind majority, you need to sign up to iTunes to be able to download apps onto your iPad/Pod/Phone, even if the apps themselves are free.
The signup process involves filling in payment method details which I have always objected to.
Last weekend my dad acquired an iPad at the tender age of 78. He understandably didn’t trust Apple with his credit card details. We set him up without iTunes but it was clear that he would need to install some apps to make full use of the device – Facebook, Google+ and Skype in particular.
The www told me it should be possible to not to have to provide the card details but none of the instructions seemed to match what I could see on the sign up screen.
The iPhone5 est arrive. This year has seen a long list of major events come and go. Now it’s the turn of the iPhone5. Ordinarily this would do nothing for me. From what I can see the spec, in the main, is no better than the Samsung GalaxyS3. I’m not a zombie fanboi, activated by keywords in Apple marketing material, programmed to obey unquestioningly, asking only how much money to profer on the altar of the fruit.
The one feature that the iPhone5 has that makes me think about getting it is support for 1,800MHz. This is a massive coup for EE (eh?). We don’t have a real list of LTE alternative handsets yet. All the main manufacturers are on the list. I don’t want two S3s (my current phone is an S3 on O2) and I don’t see a compelling enough reason to go Lumia.
My attitude to Lumia might change when Windows8 is properly launched but for the moment it aint. So it looks like iPhone5 then.
I’m not totally convinced. Do I really want to toss my principles aside for the sake of using a LTE service that won’t work in my home town using a handset that won’t roam on any other network?
The list of new generic Top Level domains applied for has been published. 1930 of them all together including Chinese, Arabic etc. It makes for interesting reading. There are quite a few duplicate submissions including 13 applications for .APP and 11 .ARTs. I didn’t get past the “A”s before giving up on listing them.
Having said that there are even 9 applications for .BLOG. Huh! Not sure if I like the idea of trefor.blog though I suppose it could be trefors.blog. I did also note that there seem to be duplicates amongst the Chinese names.
Amazon has applied for 76 gTLDs. Wow. Google seems to have applied for 101 (via Charleston Road Registry Inc. which seems to have Google written all over it)!! These include all the obvious ones such as .YOUTUBE, GOOGLE, GMAIL. HANGOUT but also .MOV which will raise an eyebrow or two. .mov is an extension used by QuickTime the media player developed by Apple Inc. As far as I can see Apple seems to have only applied for .APPLE. Are the digital wars about to move into gTLDs?
There are some interesting names in the list Bentley, Buggatti, Ferrari, Jeep (it’s in there – I’m not saying its in the same league as the first three but it’s my car :)). The BBC is also in there as is only right and proper.
This does make me wonder whether companies are going to continue registering their business domain with all the different extensions. It’s going to get expensive and out of control.
You need to read the list yourselves to fully digest it. There is presumably a mechanism for deciding who gets the name where more than one organisation has applied for it. This is going to be an interesting one to watch.
In a dramatic statement made after hours1 last night Apple announced a complete re-branding exercise under the new name “Kumquat”.
“The Apple brand has served us well and has made us the unbelievably big global giant we are today” says CEO Tim Cook. However with Steve Jobs no longer around, the share price at over $600 and the Market cap approaching $600Bn this can’t go on forever.
“There is a limit to how many iPods, iPads and Macs our fans are willing to buy so to sustain the growth we need to give them something else.”
That something is the Kumquat. The Kumquat is everything that Apple was but as a more upmarket and exotic fruit we expect consumers to be willing to pay even more for their addiction. Existing sub brands (iPod, iPad etc) will remain unaffected though replacement stickers will be available online and at Apple Kumquat stores and greengrocers in your locality.
The announcement has been greeted with some surprise
Following yesterday’s Apple iPhone5 stunt we conducted a huge1 survey of Newark mobile phone users to find out how many of them would want to buy the gadget when it goes on sale. The results are as follows:
No I’m happy with my current phone (49%)
Maybe but not for a while (20%)
Yes can’t wait (16%)
Maybe I’ll wait and see confirmed specs (8%)
No I hate Apple (8%)
1A massive total of 51 people responded to the survey which was exclusively conducted on the Timico intranet. This is the biggest ever survey of its kind conducted by Timico at Timico for Timico. However I thought the results were too exciting to keep inside Timico so I’m sharing them with y’all.
If Apple want to send an iPhone5 demo model over before the launch I have an 11 year old who is totally unhappy with his newish Nokia N97 with occasionally working touch screen (ungrateful wretch).
Wouldn’t touch it myself though. I’m one of the 49% who are content with their lot – in my case a Samsung Galaxy S2.
Interestingly Wikipedia tells us that Apple had 18.5% share of the smart phone market in Q2 11 which isn’t a million miles adrift from our “Yes can’t wait” number. Presumably their research is somewhat more scientific than mine 🙂 .
The 44% market share forecast comes from the total of yes and maybes, in case you didn’t get that – somewhat tongue in cheek I know but in keeping with the rest of this post.
Jfyi I am moving operations from the HTC Desire HD to a Samsung Galaxy S2 (I’m just so with it!). This is going to generate a blog post over the next few days because in my mind this should be a straightforward migration but I’m finding this is not totally the case. I am also coming across User Interface differences that in themselves are not major but are interesting in that they show that there is definitely some differentiation in this market other than just processor speed, pixel count and battery life.
I’m sure that the Apple fanbois out there will snort in contempt at such issues but all I can say is their blissful state of “Jobs dependence” comes at a price that many are not prepared to pay. More anon 🙂
Last week as the Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry approached Douglas harbour I “checked in” on Foursquare to a location called the “Sea Terminal”. I also uploaded a lovely picture of the watery reflections of the multicolour harbour lights. Beautiful it was.
Then as I got into the car to drive off the ferry I received a text message telling me I had just run up £17.02 (ex VAT) on data roaming charges. Ooo! That was before I had even set foot on the Isle of Man. The notion that I might leave data roaming switched on for the week was out of the question.
I was fortunate in having free WiFi where I was staying. I did however occasionally switch on roaming in order to check in at various Foursquare locations and am now proud to announce that I am Mayor of Peel Breakwater, Fenella Beach and The Grove.
Once upon a time there were fixed line communications and mobile communications. Then the internet raised its hand and believers said Internet Protocol communications will rule, OK. This we all know and in the early days at least the fixed providers were shaking.
Nowadays IP is everywhere. We are bombarded every day with new websites, services and products promising to revolutionise our lives. So much so that I have actually pulled back a yard from experimenting with the latest and greatest. This is because if I let it happen I would spend all my time looking at new services, most of which will never see the light of a second round of funding. These days I let other people’s ideas take proper root before getting interested.
Notwithstanding all this there are some clear trends. Smart Phones and tablets are taking over our lives. I’m particularly surprised at the latter,
When I was a lad I used to sit around listening to music, chewing the fat with my pals. Nowadays I hardly listen to any music other than on the rare occasional night in on my own with a steak and a bottle of red wine.
It may be a generational thing but I don’t actually have time for it. I don’t often watch TV so in the evenings I am on my laptop doing whatever I am doing. Most of the time music would break my concentration so I don’t have it on.
I use twitter a lot in the evenings. That’s instead of Facebook which I now only dip into every now and again. Sometimes I note that people I follow on twitter are listening to music. @jobsworth for example commutes into London and often tells us what he is listening to.
So when Apple announced a new TV service and Ping, a new social network based around music I found it difficult to get excited.
My mobile phone, an N97, ran out of battery yesterday. It normally lasts 2 days but there was a network problem and it kept searching for a GPRS signal. It wan’t really the phone’s fault but it does go to show that battery technology has still some way to go with mobiles, especially as we are trying to do more with the device.
The N97 is supposed to be targeted at consumers. It has a 30Gig hard drive so all my music fits on it. It also has a nice Facebook widget and I regularly use the camera, the voice recorder and make notes.
I don’t really see a difference between consumer and business applications for these high end phones. People want to listen to music whilst on the move with work. Business people take photos (mine are usually for the blog), make recordings and notes (I do it because I can never remember things otherwise), update twitter, pick up mails, VPN into the office network etc etc etc.
At Timico there is an increasing demand for the iPhone from our business customers. In fact I think that consumer technology has outpaced what is provided specifically for business use so it makes sense that business people want to use consumer tools.
The iPad is not currently a business tool but that type of device will soon be used by business for all sorts of mobility applications. Whether the Apple device specifically is it will depend on the applications that reside on it – I suspect not.
It is all going to be highly reliant on connectivity, and battery life, and cost, and functionality, and ease of use, and I’m sure the list goes on… Anyway all that stemmed from the battery running out on my N97 – streams of thought:)
Google is launching its new mobile handset, labelled the G1, in the UK on Thursday 30th October. This is Google’s first phone and is based on a new open source operating system named Android.
I haven’t had a play with it myself yet and am unlikely to in the near future as T Mobile has an exclusive deal in the UK. In anycase it is initially going to be a consumer play and I use a mobile phone for business rather than listening to music etc.
The exciting thing here is that Android is open source. Anyone can write an application for it. I’m sure there will be gotchas that benefit Google but that is understandable. Why otherwise would a company make such an investment.
If you don’t understand the implication here of “openness” look at Facebook. Facebook has had thousands of applications developed for it, good and bad.
Nokia is making its own Symbian OS open source and Apple allows developers onto its iPhone although not with complete freedom. The mobile revolution is about to move onto its next phase.