Omio News Blog

Monthly Archives: February 2012

CloudOn: Microsoft Office App Available For UK iPad Users

If you’re tired of the “will they, won’t they” surrounding Microsoft releasing their suite of Office software on Apple’s iPad, CloudOn brings presentations and spreadsheets to your device right now.

Working in conjunction with cloud-based file sharing platform Dropbox, CloudOn enables users to edit Word documents, go crazy with V-Lookups in Excel as well as manipulate Powerpoint files.

Despite a reliance on Dropbox for file editing, the need for a constant web connection and support for only Office 2010 documents, CloudOn has at least made it to Blighty…cloud gaming service OnLive also offers an iPad app named Desktop which offers a slightly broader ‘Windows on a tablet’ experience, yet it is currently restricted to US folk.

Whilst laggy on occasion and a somewhat fiddly leap to a touch-driven Windows interface, CloudOn is free, here, and fairly robust for those looking for Office on the smaller screen.

Download it here.

LG Unveils Optimus Smartphone Trio, ‘L-Style’ Design Philosophy

Not content with spicing up smartphone aesthetics with their PRADA branded handset, Korean manufacturer LG has unveiled their new range of sleek and seductive Optimus devices – the L3, L5 and L7 (pictured above, left to right).

With all three under the the banner of ‘L-Style’ – a new design identity that promises to offer gorgeous mobiles with equally strong specs – the phone maker wishes to rekindle the affections once present in Black Label fashion phones like the Chocolate and the Shine.

“With smartphones, we sometimes took a more functional approach to design but with L-Style we’re going back to our roots as a company focused on how our products fit into the lifestyle of our customers,” said LG’s CEO Dr. Jong-seok Park, realising recent handsets might have lost their way a little…

It seems safe to assume from the image above that all will be running on a lightly customised Android operating system…the Optimus name cant be trusted as it has had dalliances with Windows Phone in the past.

Digging a little deeper into what L-Style means, the design philosophy is apparently comprised of five aesthetic elements: Modern Square Style (nice to hold), Floating Mass Technology (skinnier), Seamless Layout (putting buttons in the right places), Harmonized Design Contrast (metallic accents), and a Sensuous Slim Shape (looking nice).

Not too dissimilar from the five elements of hip-hop, really.

First up to bat will be the Optimus L3 which is currently scheduled for a March European launch, whilst features and functions of all three will be unveiled in full at Mobile World Congress later in the month.

Mobile Phone Review Round Up: Samsung Galaxy Note, Nokia Lumia 710, BlackBerry Bold 9790

Want to know the general tech consensus of some of the latest mobile phones? Check out  a pick of the top reviews, right here!

Samsung Galaxy Note Reviews

CNET -

The huge size of the Galaxy Note is the main reason to buy it: no other smartphone has such a big, beautiful screen.

However, the size also creates a number of issues, short battery life and sheer unwieldiness being chief among them. If you can live with these drawbacks, you’ll find that this is one of the most powerful Android smart phones around, tackling apps and media with aplomb.

 

Techradar -

There are very few things we can complain about with the Samsung Galaxy Note. Samsung has taken what is already a brilliant handset and built on it to make an even better one.

The problem is – is it a handset or is it a tablet? In our mind, forget the ‘S-Pen’ and just concentrate on this being a large phone and PMP and you can’t go wrong. And then, the only choice you have to make is “is it too big for me?”

 

T3 -

Large in size, humongous in potential, the Samsung Galaxy Note might not be a first smartphone for the masses, what it is however, is a device that will enhance the experience of many a business user.

The Note’s only downfall in popularity is in how much it has limited its prospective target audience.

 

- Check out all Samsung Galaxy Note deals at OMIO today!

 

BlackBerry Bold 9790 Reviews

CNET-

With its weighty price tag and corporate looks, the Bold 9790 is unlikely to be the BlackBerry you buy yourself…even BlackBerry’s faithful teenage army will either be priced out or put off by its steely feel.

For all other smart phone users, BlackBerry 7 OS on the Bold 9790 doesn’t offer anything show-stopping enough to make this handset worth considering over the vastly surperior Android and Apple operating systems — thanks to its paucity of apps and the dated, text-heavy interface lurking beneath its shiny surface.

 

Techradar -

If you were to take the BlackBerry Bold 9900 out of the equation and judge the BlackBerry Bold 9790 on its own merits, you could quite confidently say it’s a cracking little phone.

We’re not massively excited by it but, geek-speak aside, just the specs alone make it worthy of a £350/$450 SIM-free price tag.

 

- Check out all BlackBerry Bold 9790 deals at OMIO today!

Nokia Lumia 710 Reviews

CNET -

From £15 per month on a two-year contract, the Nokia Lumia 710 is a very respectable mid-range smart phone, with a beefy 1.4GHz chip and a slick OS. We welcome high-end features such as Nokia’s free streaming music and sat-nav apps, and Microsoft’s suite of Office and cloud storage services.

If you’re a huge fan of Facebook and are particularly partial to Windows Phone, the 710 is a decent mid-range choice. For everyone else, your money will go further if you buy into iOS’ or Android’s much more mature app markets.

 

Techradar -

Although we would buy the Nokia Lumia 710 over the HTC Radar, it’s overshadowed by the Nokia Lumia 800, which impressed us a lot more and makes the Nokia Lumia 710 feel more like its cheaper relative than we would have liked. We know that the phone costs less, but the cost savings feel too apparent.

 

T3 -

Don’t view the Nokia Lumia 710 as the poor man’s Lumia 800. This is a cracking budget smartphone in its own right: it feels more reliable and much faster than the average budget Android phone, and the tile-based Windows Phone 7 user interface is a joy to poke around.

 

- Check out all Nokia Lumia 710 deals at OMIO today!

INTERVIEW: Beat Hazard Ultra Creator On iOS Development, PSN Woes And German Techno

One recent highlight in the world of mobile gaming is indie musical shooter Beat Hazard Ultra, a crazy music-driven shooter which has just seen a port released on iOS devices…one which we loved, incidentally!

We took the time to chat with Beat Hazard Ultra creator and Cold Beam Games’ CEO Steve Hunt about iOS, being a one-man dev team and the possibility of an Android port. Enjoy!

What spurred the decision to take Beat Hazard Ultra to the App Store, also making it available on portable devices for the first time?

My strategy all along was to take Beat Hazard to as many platforms as possible. It makes good business sense, but it’s also very cool to see your own game running on so many different devices.

Where did the idea of Beat Hazard Ultra come from, in terms of integrating music so closely?

Well I’ve always been mesmerized by music visualizers, and I thought how cool it would be to turn one into a game. That was about 3 years ago. I got made redundant from Juice games and decided it was time to try going ‘indie’. Beat Hazard was an ideal first project.

How difficult is it to develop a title on your own? Do you get external feedback from others, or just go on your instincts for game mechanics and the like?

I pretty much go with my instincts. I let family and friends play the game and I listen carefully to what they say. I also listen to what players say once the game is out. Beat Hazard has had many changes based on that. Especially from feedback on the Steam forums. However, at lot is very subjective and you need to be carful what you take on board.

Now it’s been released on all major digital distribution platforms, have there been any major wins or hurdles have been, both for yourself developing and in terms of getting it onto these sales channels?

The major win was getting on Steam. That version has done very well and given me more credibility to take the game to other platforms.
The PS3 version was a complete nightmare to make. Their software is very poor and overly complex, as are their submission and testing procedures. The game didn’t sell too well either. I won’t be going there again.

The iOS version was great to do. I hired some friends that work at D3T (www.d3t.co.uk) to do the low level port so I could focus on game play.

Are you pleased with the reception generally? I heard Beat Hazard Ultra was the highest-rated PSN title at one point…

The PSN version got quite a frosty reception from the press and didn’t sell too well. The high rating means that players that did buy it really liked it which is great.
iOS has been far far more positive. I’ve had some amazing reviews and players seems to be loving it – I’m so happy about that.

Are there any iOS-specific features that you’re happy to have added? How hard was it to incorporate Internet Radio, for example?

Apples SDK is amazing. It’s very easy to learn and you can add powerful features very quickly. For example, I added In-App Purchases in a few days. Apple really know their stuff and understand that they need to make development as easy as they possibly can, which they have done.

Any advice for those looking to make their mark on the indie scene, anything you wish you knew beforehand?

You need a good idea, but keep it simple. Start small and grow slowly. And don’t forget you don’t need to spend a fortune on development. There’s great engines, software and plug-ins out there that will make your job easier and won’t cost the earth.

What’s next? More Beat Hazard Ultra or are you trying something else?

First I’ll take a break for a bit. The Android version is waiting in the wings. After that I have a few experimental game ideas I’d like to try. And of course I want to make Beat Hazard 2 – it’s gonna get cool!

What’s your favourite song to blast to?

I quite like blasting away to the German Techno radio stations. Which is odd because I don’t listen to techno normally!

Thanks!

Nokia’s Mobile World Congress Lineup Arrives Early?

We’re yet to even pack our socks and dongles for the trip to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2012, and already handset names are leaking out ahead of the annual phone symposium…

This time it’s the turn of Finnish phone maker Nokia, with PocketNow apparently grabbing a list of their runners and riders…and it seems an even operating system spread.

Two Windows Phone devices are touted in the form of the Nokia Lumia 900 going global and an entry-level Nokia Lumia 610, whilst S40 keeps the developing world turning with the Asha 202, Asha 203 and Asha 302.

Rounding out the list is apparently a full-touch reboot of the Symbian-powered Nokia N8, dubbed the 808 Pureview.

Whether truth or falsehood, we’ll not have long to wait…

Via Recombu, image via Mobile Choice

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 Unveiled, Tweaks Tablet Formula With Ice Cream Sandwich

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 has been announced in Prague, at the Korean manufacturer’s annual showcase of all things glossy and gadgety.

A 7-inch LCD display with a 1Ghz dual-core processor and refreshed multimedia capabilities, it is interesting to note the release states the Galaxy Tab 2 is ‘the first addition to [Samsung's] 2012 tablet line-up’.

Slimmer, slicker and stylistically more in keeping with its Galaxy stablemates, the Tab 2 feels like a more considered device than the original, which always felt as an effort to head-off the iPad as the first tablet on the block.

A 3-megapixel on the rear and front-facing image capture suggest that it’s still very much a device for the go, a thought borne out by the confirmation of both 3G and Wi-Fi enabled models as well as improved communication capabilities.

The TouchWiz user interface sees a revamp, and access to movie downloads, music stores and app suggestions shows that Samsung are acutely aware of what people want from their tablets – pretty much everything.

‘AllShare Play’ enables the Galaxy Tab 2 free reign to chat to PCs and other Samsung devices with aplomb, meaning wireless streaming of music and media all over the place.

A Sammy spokesperson said: “We have actively worked to enhance and extend our tablet offering since the launch of the original Galaxy Tab 18 months ago, to put us in the position we are in today of being able to offer our customers a portfolio of devices of varying sizes relative to their different needs.

We are delighted to be offering our customers even more choice with our latest tablet which is our first to feature Android 4.0.”

Samsung’s decision to reveal their tablet update at their annual European Forum as opposed to the impending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona speaks volumes…and it is certainly benefiting from uncontested column inches ahead of the event.

A revamp as opposed to an all-out assault on the iPad’s dominance, the Galaxy Tab 2 feels every bit the box-ticker, an able device ready to run Android’s latest Ice Cream Sandwich update with some welcome aesthetic tweaks.

Those expecting a tablet challenger to the throne may be disappointed, but a highly competent alternative can certainly be as effective – if not more so – than a head-on opposition to the front runner.

The runaway success story of the Samsung Galaxy S II is certainly testament to finding the right place in the market…and with a myriad of reasons posited as to why the S III isn’t making an MWC appearance, all eyes will be on the manufacturer to see what they’ve held back for Barca.

The Galaxy Tab 2 is currently earmarked for a March 2012 release.

Motorola MOTOLUXE, DEFY MINI Revealed, Google Acquisition Approved

Whilst Motorola’s Android-fuelled return to relevance fell just short of the ascension many had predicted, the US manufacturer is still bringing out a number of smartphones running on Google juice in 2012.

First up is the Motorola MOTOLUXE, an ‘ultra-vogue, rail-thin’ device housing an an 800Mhz processor and sporting shades of the modestly successful RAZR reboot.

Powered by Android Gingerbread, the MOTOLUXE is once again all about style,  with a 4-inch touchscreen and 8-megapixel autofocus camera supporting another Motorola-developed custom UI, this time dubbed ‘MotoSwitch’.

Rather than the cluttered MotoBLUR interface, MotoSwitch places your most relevant apps and contacts at the forefront, constantly tailoring itself to your behaviour and favourites.

The MOTOLUXE seems like a stock Android handset from there on in, aside from a bit of a light show in the form of a glowing lanyard slot that illuminates when you miss a call, text or e-mail.

Gimmicky? Maybe, but it is a much-needed differentiator in a crowded mobile market.

“By combining sleek style with Android brains, MOTOLUXE is ideal for people who want the latest technology in a sophisticated package,” according to Marcus Frost, Motorola Europe’s senior marketing director.

“Not only does this smartphone have a big screen and the latest, greatest entertainment tools, it’s affordable and won’t take a bite out of your budget.”

Second up is the Motorola DEFY MINI, their latest entry in a ‘hardy’ smartphone range – dust-proof, splash-proof and rocking the display-du-jour in the form of 3.2-inches of Gorilla Glass.

Rocking a slightly more sedate 600Mhz processor, the DEFY MINI has a 3MP camera, front facing video camera and also enjoys the new MotoSwitch UI.

Here’s a picture of it having a good time at the beach.

Both with be quite affordable, and due for release this month.

With US and European regulators giving the green light to Google’s £7.9bn acquisition of Motorola Mobility, definitely expect the manufacturer to step up their handset game in the near future.

However with 17,000 new mobile patents, perhaps we will also see the search giant stepping up their litigation game?

Beat Hazard Ultra Review – Synesthesia Shooter Is Perfect Fit On iOS

Do not adjust your display. The above screenshot is from dual-joystick shooter Beat Hazard Ultra, a frankly intense game that uses your own tunes to create a unique wave-based blast ‘em up.

Created by indie developer Cold Beam Games, the frenetic title has seen success on a myriad of platforms including PC, Mac and Xbox Live Arcade, but making the leap to iOS devices sees Beat Hazard Ultra finally land on the same place where your music collection resides…and it is a beautiful marriage.

Every beat, snare and lyric of your chosen song is seamlessly converted into a pulse-pounding, visceral 21st Century remix of classic shooter Asteroids – dodging enemy craft, blowing up opponents and collecting a variety of power-ups in an alien landscape.

Whilst some boost your ship’s weapons and others add to your score multiplier, the best power-up is definitely ‘volume’, cranking up both the music and visual intensity in an already spectacular game.

Choose a melodious song and lulls in the flow offer a brief respite, whilst the staccato rhythms and ferocious bass of a dubstep anthem makes for a high-octane gaming experience like few others.

The iOS version brings a few new perks and add-ons to put a novel twist on your favourite albums (as well as some in-app purchases to level up faster…) , whilst the ability to use tracks from a built-in internet radio tuner gives a limitless supply of audio.

Whilst the touch controls make the tense movements and twitch-based action a tad tougher than with a traditional joypad, Beat Hazard Ultra is a phenomenal (and universal) port complete with iCloud save support, achievements, and a must-have launch price of just 69p.

Get it now, enjoy your iPod playlist in an entirely new way…

GiffGaff Teams With Keith Harris And Orville For ‘Unlock A Chicken’ Campaign

A rap video by 80s variety act Keith Harris and Orville in association with SIM-only retailer giffgaff, in order to highlight the plight of battery hens…sounds entirely normal.

Partnering with the Wood Green Animal Shelter, giffgaff pledges to rehome incarcerated poultry every time that someone activates a new SIM.

Drawing a comparison between consumers tied into long term contracts and chickens in battery farms might sound a bit of a stretch, but Tom Rainsford, Head of Brand and Propositions for giffgaff (GiffGaff? Giff Gaff?) highlighted the similarities:

People on long mobile contracts are analogous to battery hens, laying profit for big mobile companies. We launched the idea of unlocking real battery hens through new SIM activations last year, and the giffgaff community loved it. We’re now giving them shareable content to help get the chicken love out there. And yes we know – Orville is a duck.”

To be fair, we were this close to mentioning that fact…

Check out the full video below, it’s worryingly amusing.

 

HTC Sensation XE White Due February, Brings Beauty And The Beats

If you were only able to tell HTC’s Sensation handsets from each other by colourway, the Taiwanese phone maker is set to make things a lot tougher this month with a white model of the HTC Sensation XE.

The HTC Sensation XE white is due for a February 20th launchaccording to SIM-free phone seller Clove, with the Beats by Dre-equipped smartphone costing £408.

Powered by a dual-core processor, Android Gingerbread and a 4.3-inch qHD display, the Sensation XE is already a formidable device in the AV stakes, with enduring popularity stemming from affordable pricepoints.

With confirmed word that HTC is to be focused on quality over quantity this year, we look forward to seeing more from both the manufacturer and the amazingly successful Beats brand.