Simplicity for the iPhone – O2

Following on from a series of tweets I thought I’d put down what I know here so people have a point of reference (and can also correct me if I’m wrong)

Just discovered my iPhone contract ran out last month although O2 didn’t actually tell me or remind me.

I rang them over another botch up where they’d put a Data bolt on to my account as requested for my trip to Blogworld last October. They did say they’d cancel it after a month but didn’t. Fairly easy to sort out and a refund is being processed.

However, what to do now my iPhone contract is finished?

Well, it transpires I can move to a new 30 day contract reducing my £35 per month to £20 per month. The contract is called Simplicity for iPhone 20. This includes 600 minutes of calls and 1200 text messages plus unlimited data. The operator didn’t mention any change to Visual Voicemail or wifi roaming. 

There is a standard Simplicity 20 plan for other phones but this one is specifically for existing iPhone customers coming off the iPhone plan. The standard simplicity 20 plan does not include data.

If you have any further info or links, feel free to drop in the comments.

The £20 per month is still more than I use but it’s better for me. I should really be an iPod touch user for the limited amount of time I actually use the phone part of the iPhone but it’s just so handy when I do need it!

Bring on the next iPhone, I’m out of contract and ready ;-) 

Some mistake surely…


The Tom Tom car Kit for iPhone 3GS appeared on the UK Apple store today. £99 

Seems a bit pricey but does include GPS enhancements, a better speaker, a better microphone for hand free and an audio out. Plus a charger.

However, the product page states:

Eh! It includes the application as well (£60 on it’s own) – A bargain!!!

Hang on!

I bought the app when it first came out? I’ve already spent £60. You mean I should have waited? Where’s the option to buy the car mount on its own?

This can’t be right?

My thoughts are that the product page is incorrect. 

Why have the header “Did you notice”?

I think the section should read:

Did you notice?

You need to get both the Tom Tom navigation app for your iPhone 3GS or 3G and the docking kit to hold your iPhone securely…..

We shall see!

If the app is included with the Car Kit, then either Apple or Tom Tom need to make a reduced price version available without the app for us early adopters. If they don’t, there will be hell to pay!

I’ve placed a call with Apple customer support who are checking it out for me. Will keep you updated.

Sorry Spotify, back to the free model….

Following the launch of the iPhone client for Spotify, I thought I’d try out a months Premium subscription for £9.99

Whilst I love the idea, I’ve been shocked to discover I just haven’t used the premium service at all, except for a couple of tracks when I first signed up.

In fairness, it may well be that I’m not the ideal punter or typical of the demographic that Spotify is aiming at. I’m fairly old (!), have an established taste in music, and by now, have most of my favourite stuff already on my iPod. 

The main issues I found were:

  • I never really got around to caching any songs on my iPhone client. Most of the stuff was already there on my iPhone and I really didn’t want to spend the time trying to do a diff to see what was missing.
  • I didn’t realise just how much I used the Remote application on the iPhone to manage my iTunes collection on my main machine and have music playing via an Airport Express or Apple TV. As far as I can see, there’s no way to replicate this using Spotify. It’s such a boon when friends are around to play music and skip or search for tracks via the iPhone remote on iTunes. Sorely missed using Spotify.
  • The main killer for me though was the lack of background playing on the iPhone client. I just don’t use my iPhone with a single application loaded. I’m jumping from email to Twitter to Instapaper to Bylines. Without the background playing, it’s really no use to me.

So whilst I think it’s a fantastic concept, and ideal for anyone who really wants to seek out and listen to new music, I’ve just cancelled my Premium subscription and reverted to the free model.

Which I think is a shame, I really do :-(

Tom Tom for iPhone…

Well the highly anticipated Tom Tom “turn by turn” GPS iPhone application has been released on the world. Unfortunately, they didn’t release the matching cradle at the same time but more about that later.

I was intending to hold off on buying the application until the “official” cradle was available, but following a Twitter conversation with Rob Hanson (@switchmac) it dawned on me that I had a Ped3-Auto stand for the iPhone, sent to me a while ago for review.

So with that in mind, I plonked down £59.99 ukp of my children’s inheritance and bought the UK version of the app from the App Store.

A 241MB download later and my iPhone 3G S was now a fully functioning Sat Nav!

Now there are already turn by turn applications available from the App store (and much cheaper than £60 –
Co-pilot has been mentioned favourably – £25.9) but I was already familiar with the Tom Tom UI with my wife having a standalone unit, and I really wanted a proven solution (plus the cradle)

So is it worth more than double than Co-Pilot?

I can’t really say as I’ve never used Co-Pilot!

Tom Tom for iPhone is however, a very good implementation of the traditional Tom Tom application. At last I can now pinch the screen to zoom in and out, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to do that on the standalone Tom Tom.

Boot time is very quick and route calculation extremely speedy. It supports horizontal and vertical orientation, flipping the map round as you might imagine. I found that the short charger lead I had caused some tension on the Ped3-Auto causing me to keep the unit in vertical mode, a longer lead would allow me to use the horizontal mode.

GPS Signal acquisition seems to be much faster than the standalone unit.

As far as using the device, all seems OK. There was sometimes a slight lag in positioning as I turned a corner but the Tom Tom soon caught up, there was no problem approaching turns with instructions being given in good time.

The Route Type (Fastest, Shortest, Walking, Bicycle, etc) seem to be hidden away under advanced planning for some reason.

As usual the Tom Tom comes with a database of POI (Points of Interest) but this does not appear to be editable, and neither does the application appear to be able to be sync’d with the Tom Tom HOME desktop application. You can of course add favourite destinations and I presume this information gets backed up during your iPhone backup whilst synching.

The iPhone application also integrates with the Contacts list on your iPhone allowing you to select an address within your list to route to, and it also allows you to call a POI via the phone.

In operation, you can use your iPhone iPod app to play music and the Tom Tom will work in conjunction, pausing the music each time it gives verbal instructions. I understand that the phone will interrupt the Tom Tom if an incoming call comes in, which does give rise to the potential of you missing a turn if on the phone, but then again, you shouldn’t really be on the phone if driving, should you :-)

Overall, I’ve been pretty impressed with the application, even if the price does seem a bit steep. It will be interesting to see if this price point stimulates other applications to charge more.

The fact that I carry the iPhone with me at all times means I now have a still camera, a video camera, an audio recorder, an iPod, an atlas, a clock, a timer, a phone, a games console, a computer and now a sat nav with me at all times (plus many more functions) all in a single device.

Truly astounding!

The area I’d like to see improved is the integration with the Car. The new Tom Tom cradle will go some way towards this with a built in charger, enhanced GPS performance, an amplified speaker for louder instructions and hands free calling. It’s possible that the cradle will also interface with your car audio system via bluetooth? It’s even been suggested that the cradle will also support iPod touches and 1st gen iPhones with no GPS due to the enhanced GPS built into the cradle.

No idea on the pricing for this yet, but I don’t think it will be cheap.

What we really want is connectivity built into the car itself.

A little iPhone slot that you plug your iPhone into and allows you to interface with all of your cars systems. Not too much to ask is it?

The chances are that if the Tom Tom cradle does integrate in someway with the latest car audio systems, I’ll probably have a look at upgrading the audio system in my car.

I may just wait until iPhone connectivity comes as standard with all cars before looking to upgrade that.

3G S First Impressions…

I’ve had the iPhone 3G S for less than 24 hours, but I thought I’d post some of my first impressions, mainly those that I’ve not seen commented on elsewhere:

Performance: Pretty snappy but not as earth shatteringly faster as I’d expected when using the standard interface and menus. Where it does shine, is in application loading times – much,much quicker. This does enhance the overall experience and does make “switching” applications much less troublesome. Oh, and search is blindingly fast on the 3G S, they just need to expose some of the configuration settings in search, that would be a great bonus.

Camera: Much improved. Auto focus and auto everything else seems pretty spectacular. It makes you realise just how bad the camera in the 3G is!

Video: Game changer. No more to be said.

Screen: The 3G has a oleophobic coating. This is wonderful and even after using the phone for a couple of hours, there is hardly a smudge on it. I can really see this technology as an enabler for much larger handheld devices (Ahem!). It also feels much slicker to use. A great addition.

Voice control: Works seamlessly, without having to train your iPhone with your voice. It takes a little too long to invoke the feature from the menu button for my liking as you have to hold it down for a few seconds. However, you can control it from the supplied headset, which seems more transparent. I can see myself using this feature a lot whilst driving, especially controlling the iPod playback. I would imagine this feature will be updated significantly over time, with updates at each firmware revision allowing for more control over more features. It’s also something I could see third party hardware manufacturers exploiting, especially now they have the ability to interface devices to the iPhone. Apple just need to release the voice control API.

Compass: Works suprisingly well, although the feature is a little bit hidden on the Maps. You need to go into the compass application and access the maps through there, then hit the map button a couple of times. Took me a little while to find it and  it may be lost for some people if they don’t know it’s there. Update: You can access the compass through Google maps, just tap on the location button twice. Every time I’ve tried to use Google Maps on the 3G, especially when walking in a city, it has been frustrating, as you don’t know which way you’re facing. The compass has fixed this and made it a killer feature.

Mains Adapter: Wow! They’ve built the charger into a standard plug. Amazing! Update: See the @DavidBCohen picture and @sydov picture for a comparison

I’m sure that there are more features that will impress me as I use the device from day to day, but the 3G S is certainly a big step up from the 3G and gets two thumbs up from me.