Archive for category Mobile Phone

Free Go SMS Pro Themes

If you have an Android phone, you probably love the fact that there are plenty of apps that allow you to customise the look and feel of your Mobile device. Google Play Store hosts lots of different “homescreen launchers” that can easily be themed and modified exactly to your taste. My personal favourite is the Go Launcher homesceen launcher app. The problem with Homescreen launchers is that they tend not to replace the built in Email client, SMS or Phonebook, which means, your homescreen looks great, but once you open a message, you’re back to the dreary old Android default look and feel.

Thankfully, the developers of Go Launcher recognised this fact and developed a host of other apps to replace the default Android applications. So not only can you get a great homescreen launcher, but you can also get your hands on the great Go Contacts and Go SMS Pro.

The name “Go SMS Pro” suggests that this is a paid app and in fairness to the developers, I probably would buy this app, only that it is actually free. You can of course avail of additional functionality by paying a small fee, but the basic free version of the app will be enough for most users.

Once you have Go SMS installed, you can download thousands of themes from the Google Play Store. There are hundreds of free Go SMS Pro themes and plenty of high quality paid Go SMS Pro themes.

From time to time, I like to play around with Go SMS Pro by creating my own  new themes for Go SMS Pro – just to make my phone look, well… great! :)

I decided to release a number of the themes I created on the Google Play Store so everyone can enjoy the apps I’ve created. Here’s a selection of themes that you can download to your phone, but remember, you must have Go SMS Pro app installed on your phone before you can use these. Enjoy!

 

Free Go SMS Pro Theme

Download Go SMS Pro Underwater Theme

Go SMS Pro Summer Theme

Download Go SMS Pro Summer Clouds Theme

Go SMS Pro How at the Moon Theme

Download Free GO SMS Pro Theme – Howl at the Moon

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BreakingNews.ie Android App Review

If you’re a smartphone user, you probably have your phone full of apps that enable easy and quick access to your most loved sources of information. I know I do and one that I was delighted to see released was BreakingNews.ie’s Android App.

Typically, I had my mobile phone’s internet browser set to my Google IG page which listed my favourite news feeds on the homescreen when I opened it. I found after much use, I noticed that out of all the feeds I had listed, the one I used most was the breaking news feed.

The only problem with this that was that the content wasn’t mobile friendly when you visited the BreakingNews.ie website and therefore it was a bit annoying trying to navigate and read content.

After checking out the news again last night on my mobile, I noticed that BreakingNews.ie had gone “mobile” with their website, which was excellent. And to make things even better, they were advertising the fact that they now had an Android and iPhone App to boot! So off I went to download and install!

After installing the app, I fired it up and instantly noticed that the app was most likely developed with Titanium’s Appcelerator Development Platform – the “Restart is Required” message was a dead giveaway as it is a major bug bear for many Titanium mobile app developers on Android.

This is where I began to get worried about this app. A quick search on Google would have given the developer some very easy solutions to implement that would remove this message, but it appears they didn’t even bother looking into resolving this. Once I see this sort of laziness, I expect their to be more issues to come within the app.

And as expected, when the app restarted, I was instantly shown a runtime error. I’m given two options, Kill or Continue. If I wasn’t familiar with this error (as it’s not a “force kill” error that you’d come to expect with Android) I probably would have chosen Kill. This would have left me in an endless loop as the application would repeatedly restart until I choose the other option. I knew that I should be safe enough to choose Continue, so I did and continued to play with the app.

Again, it becomes blatantly obvious that the developer was either purely lazy or just had no inclination at all as to what way a user expects from a mobile app.

They presumed that people just want to see the latest articles when they land on the homescreen of the app. I sincerely doubt they did any sort of user testing and just went with their gut on how it should be presented. For me, I would expect the app to allow me to view a choice of categories from the homescreen or even given the ability to choose the categories that I would like to appear on the homescreen. Instead, I just get all the latest news articles in a list.

There is a “menu” button at the top left of the screen which allows you to choose from a radio buttoned list of categories, I’m not sure if this is just to select your default category or just choose a category from which you wish to view articles from. Either way, when you select an option from this list, you get a runtime error.

After playing around with it a bit more, in the hope that the app would improve (in some way), I noticed that they had another menu from the “menu” button on Android. Typically I would associated this with either extra settings or a refresh. In this case, it’s being used as a navigational tool. When you click this, it allows you to choose “News Menu” which brings you to a page which I feel in this app’s case really should be the homescreen.

As I continued through the app I received a number of “Force Kills”, which I just couldn’t take anymore of. I had to uninstall it.

This app could have been very useful to me, but unfortunately it’s just not. Apart from the errors, the user interface leaves a lot to be desired. They could really do with adding a widget or notification system to notify you over your preferred latest stories and make it worthwhile installing on your phone.

Let’s face it, all it’s doing for me at the moment is giving me an alternative way of viewing their news articles other than my browser. That’s just not enough to warrant installing an app on my phone. The space and memory on my phone is just too precious for me to give up for a pointless app.

In fairness to BreakingNews.ie – most news apps in this space leave a lot to be desired. I could name a number of apps that just don’t get it right, even the mighty Sky leave a lot to be desired with their apps.

In BreakingNews.ie’s case it’s as if a web developer has just decided one day that they can develop mobile apps. They expect the user experience to be much like the web but it’s really not. Mobile is different, people engage differently and expect a lot more than a web page from their mobile app.

At the moment there is very little reason for me to move away from using my browser to access this site. Their app is pretty useless to me. In fact, I have more control with a browser and their RSS feeds!

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Sencha Touch, Admob & Phonegap

Android Market

Image via Wikipedia

I recently created a small Android mobile app using Sencha Touch & Phonegap. The app was always going to be free as it does  little more than give website owners the ability to check how their website is performing from a SEO and Social Media point of view.

I thought I might as well try and make a few bob from the app (oh the app is called My Web Performance and is available on Android Market) so the obvious option was sponsored adverts. And no place more obvious to use for sponsored ads, that Google. Google offer a program for mobile developers called Admob. Admob works pretty much along the same lines as Google Adsense in that you place Google Adsense on your website and you earn a % of the amount the advertiser is paying to place their ads on Google. Admob does this for mobile websites and applications etc.

The dilemma was that I couldn’t find out how to get this to work with Sencha Touch and Phonegap. I figured out a little hack in the end that seems to be working out for me so far. So for all you Sencha Touch users, here’s how I did it…

  1. Admob Set Up
    In Admob – when adding a site, choose “Smartphone Web App”. This will present you with Javascript that we can use later.
  2. Sencha Touch
    Ok, the idea is to basically create a new toolbar that uses an iFrame to pull in a separate html file that contains the Admob code. So firstly, create a new HTML file called adverts and paste your Admob code into it.Then in your Sencha Touch application js file add the iFrame code where-ever you think it will sit best. My panel looks like this:

            var content = new Ext.Panel({
                fullscreen: true,
                id: 'content',
                scroll: 'vertical',
                dockedItems: [{
                    id: 'status',
                    xtype: 'toolbar',
                    dock: 'top',
                    title: "My Web Performance"
                	},
    				actionPanel,
    				{
    					title: 'The Latest',
    					html: '<iframe src =\"adverts.html" width=\"100%\" height=\"48\" frameBorder=\"0\" scrolling=\"no\"></iframe>',
    					id: 'feedTab',
    					border: false,
    					dock: 'bottom',
    				}
    			]
            });


  3. Phonegap
    There’s really nothing out of the ordinary to do here – follow the usual steps and you should be laughing!

Enjoy!

 

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10 million UK consumers have used mobile commerce, problems? Of course!

iPhone & Intel Mobile Device

Image by Frank Gruber via Flickr

When a survey commisioned by Tealef, showed that 10 million UK consumers have used mobile commerce to order products or services through their mobile device I was impressed. I maybe should have been shocked that up 83% of those surveryed had a problem when using their mobile device to order, but I wasn’t.

Even with the speed of adoption of people using mobile devices to purchase items online, many of the platforms or websites simply don’t take into account the usability issues when using a phone to shop. A lot of the larger retailers who have mobile websites have done a good job at presenting the information in an easy to use format, but fall down when it comes to paying or logging into a website.

One pet hate of mine for a lot of mobile websites or apps is the inability to recover a forgotten password. In most cases, the forgot password option isn’t available on the mobile version of the website. This is clearly a security issue in that you could pick up someones for, log on to any site, run the forgot password tool and have the password emailed directly to the phone and volia, you’re in and have the password to probably everything the poor person uses for his life secrets!

But we all know there are simple ways around this. But it seems to be easier for most to ignore this or build in a mechanism for it. That may well be because they’re not sure if mobile is the way of the future. They’re going through a stage of “let’s suck it and see” before putting too much effort into changing how things work.

The problem with that approach is that we are left with a lot of consumers who will end up becoming dillusioned with the whole concept of mobile commerce. If it becomes too labourious to order something through a mobile device, wouldn’t you just prefer to go back to using your PC to order instead?

And that clearly appears to be what’s happening according to this study. A massive 29% of people surveryed abandon the transaction to complete later on their PC! 16% would more likely prefer to use their PC in future and more worryingly, 13% are likely to abandon the transaction altogether and try somewhere else.

I know personally these statistics are not something that are strange to me. As recently as last Saturday I went to put a bet on the Grand National and decided to try out the Paddy Power website. As someone who doesn’t bet very often, in fact once a year, I had completely forgotten the username and password associated with my Paddy Power account that I had used, well last year! Since there was no option to retrieve my password on the mobile device, I had to take out the laptop and retrieve my information from the main website.

In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have bothered at all because I certainly didn’t win! :)

I really can’t blame retailers for getting things wrong on this front – it’s a brand new medium that hasn’t been fully tested. We can only use our experience on how people interact with a browser on a laptop and try to second guess what people will want on a mobile device. We need much testing to really see what makes people tick on a mobile device.

There is one key point in all of this, a lot of people using a mobile device to access the Internet or online stores have probably never even used the Internet or shopped online. This is a brand new experience for them and we should all take this into account when developing our mobile websites and apps.

 

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Google Keyword Tool goes mobile

Google announced last month that over the past two years, mobile searches have grown five-fold. An even better indication of growth in the use of mobile devices for searching is that in the third quarter of 2010, mobile searches jumped again by another 130%. This is a clear indication of the massive and rapid growth of the mobile internet.

I have in the past discussed how I feel it’s time to get your website mobile to make it easier for users to use your website, but more importantly, it’s probably time to start optimising your website to be found in searches by mobile device users.

Google are already a few steps ahead of us all and have added a new key feature to their much loved Google Keyword Tool. You can now use the Google Keyword Tool to build keyword lists for targeting mobile users. As part of the new feature the have given the ability to search for keywords searched for by “mobile WAP browsers” and “Mobile devices with Full Internet Browsers” or of course, just any mobile device at all.

Google Keyword Tool Mobile Search Options

Without doing proper analysis, I can’t tell you for sure if there are many differences in how people search by mobile device compared to a PC. I’d assume there are some significant differences and plan to do some proper research over the coming days.

One things for sure, it’s time to take mobile seriously….

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