The latest on-the-go tech

August 29th, 2014

Polaroid CUBE

The Polaroid Cube is the latest on-the-go weatherproof camera which enables users to record 1080p HD video in almost any condition, capturing all the moments you want to relive.  At just 35mm x 35mm, the cube has a 124° lens and a 6MP camera to capture your wildest adventures.

The Cube supports Micro SD up to 32GB and has a built-in battery that can record up to 90 minutes. With (additional) mountable features and its built-in magnet, the Cube is perfect for amateur photographers who are new to on-the-go camera’s and aren’t looking to splash out on a GoPro – or at least not just yet!

The Cube will cost roughly $100 and once you have captured your footage you will need to plug it into a laptop via a USB to upload and watch your videos.

To discover more or to pre-order your own Polaroid cube click here.

Fonhandle

Fonhandle is the strangest iPhone accessory I have come across. However, the more I think about it, the better it becomes.

Have you ever wanted to take a Selfie with a group of people but struggle to fit everyone in the photo because your arms aren’t long enough? Well not anymore, Fonhandle allows you to capture a wider, steadier photo at a higher angle.

It can also be used to capture steadier video footage and you can even bury the handle in the sand for hands free video calling whilst on the beach!

The Fonhandle is available in a range of colours and you can get yours for $13 on Kickstarter today.

Jamie Sansom is Marketing Assistant at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog

There’s an app for that #25: Rainy Day Mobile Gaming

August 28th, 2014

With winter approaching a little too rapidly, our lunchtime strolls may soon be replaced with huddling in a staff room or coffee shop. As we wouldn’t want you to be bored, we have looked into some of the latest games to help you wile away the time.

Blendoku is a different sort of puzzle game, with a sophisticated edge. In simple terms, the task at hand is to put colours in order of hue gradient, but there is a Sudoku twist to the game whereby one or more blocks are already in place. And, like Sudoku, each colour has a direct relationship to every other colour it touches.

As the level increases, so does the number of blocks on grids and the shape of the grid, making it more and more difficult for each block to ‘match’, i.e. contain the one hue contained in all the other colours that touch it. Based on art school principles, Blendoku is available for everyone via Android and iOS, for free.

Fantasy Football was, is, and always will be a hot topic at Total with many members of staff managing their own teams, along with departmental teams. And our own league, ‘Total Talks Tactics’.

Of course the Fantasy Football website is the staple for most, however should you require a little team-tweaking on the go, then you could download the official app. If you have already set up a team, simply download and log in. Alternatively, you can register via the app itself. Fantasy Premier League 2014/15 is available for Android at £1.29 and iOS at £1.49.

If you were/are an unashamed Flappy fan, then perhaps you could be tempted to try Swing Copters.  Flying under the same premise and created by the same developer, Swing incorporates tricky-tap manoeuvres into a deceptively simple looking game. A small, odd copter-hatted creature hurtles its way through the platform avoiding distracting and dangerous girders and hammers.

It remains to be seen whether Swing can emulate the success of Flappy, which became the top app in over 80 countries following its release in February. Swing Copters is available on both Android and iOS, for free.

If you find physics more fun that flapping or flying, then you could opt for the noire-styled Freeze. In particular, puzzle fans should be kept baffled for hours by the monochromatic, atmospheric graphics and gravity challenges described by some as ‘maddening’. Using your finger to rotate and use the ‘Freeze!’ button to overcome gravity across 25 levels.

Freeze is available on both Android and iOS, for free with in-app purchases if you want to go the extra mile.

We previously reported on the ‘The Ministry of Silly Walks’, but feel it is worth another mention; we wouldn’t want you to miss out. This game is based on the classic 70’s comedy sketch performed by John Cleese, who played the role of a developer of Silly Walks for the government. Timed to coincide with Monty Python’s final tour, the game has become popular on both platforms.

The premise is simple, (silly) walk, run and jump around London collecting coins whilst dodging pigeons and various other obstacles planted in your path. The graphics are clear and the gameplay is smooth. It’s simple; “showcase your increasingly frantic promenading as far as you possibly can”.

Available for both Android and Apple, priced at 99p. For those who would like to practice their moves in the real world, full gait instructions are available here.

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.

BlackBerry vs. Android – The Android Fan

August 22nd, 2014

Following our previous BlackBerry vs. Android guest blog by Ian Jones and his BlackBerry positive user experience, today it is my turn to annotate exactly why I have chosen to return to Android.

Having used Android devices since the OS was released I have never really felt the need to look at either BlackBerry or Apple as alternative solutions. However, nothing stays the same – including BlackBerry – and given the industry I work in, I felt I should broaden my horizons. I adopted a Q10 which I have been using for just over a month, and for this review I have also borrowed Ian’s beloved Z30 to trial.

The Q10 has a smaller screen and QWERTY keyboard, whereas the Z30 has a full sized touch screen. The OS works the same, albeit the Z30 at lightening speed in comparison.

In principle I am not averse to BlackBerry, the marketing is of devices seems sound and sincere with no brash-Apple approach. I’m hoping that those who have been awaiting a large, touch screen solution, which offers a far more fluid BlackBerry experience, have something worth celebrating; Ian Jones certainly is. There are of course more and more apps being made available for BlackBerry, and the device comes with Documents to Go to rival 360 in functionality, but then that is only useful if you need it. The Z30 is also quick, perhaps not quite as fast as the Samsung S5 in my experience but considering it is approximately half that price and yet also comes with an ‘office suite’, it is a strong contender.

Could the Z30 persuade me to remain with BlackBerry? It could. It is fast, far easier to use than my Q10 but, for me personally, I have realised that an Android device offers the flexibility and synchronisity that suits my own needs. I am just not that keen on the BlackBerry OS. I want to be able to download virtually any app that comes into my mind knowing it is available for my OS. I want the ability to synchronise with my tablet and auto-backup my photographs to my Google Drive. I find Android ultra-intuitive and not ‘overly-swipey’, something which I spend a lot of time doing on BlackBerry (left, right, up, down… cue pocket dial). Returning to Android just feels right for me and I am now a proud owner of a Moto E.

Of course the choice to utilise Android or BlackBerry could be down to integration and security, along with handset costs. Whether you are Android, BlackBerry or Apple, it’s great to see a more even playing field when it comes to user experience.

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.

BlackBerry vs. Android – The Convert

August 21st, 2014

Following our recent Apple vs. Android blog – and visa versa – the team debate continues: how does BlackBerry now compare with Android when it comes to user experience?

As two users who have recently been pro-Android and switched to try BlackBerry, Ian Jones, Technical Support at Total (‘the new fan’) and I (‘the wavering fan’) contemplate our experience and consider whether we would return to Android. Today, Ian Jones guest blogs about his experience.


“Historically a big Android fan, were it not for my job it is unlikely I would have made the leap to the new BlackBerry devices but I realised that as I support them in my role, I was going to have to use them. At first I was, like many, put off by my unfamiliarity with the gesture based OS.  As many will have found with Windows 8, years of doing the same thing over and over makes it hard to adjust.

“However after only a week of using BlackBerry OS10 I was a convert; when I went back to use my Android I found myself swiping the screen to change apps or have a peek at what messages had arrived, becoming frustrated at what had seemed like a perfectly fine operating system just 8 days prior.  Since then, use of my various Android devices has dwindled to such tasks as being a backup camera on holidays to a ‘plaything’ for my 2 year old son.

“I am currently using the Z30 and I can honestly say it is the best phone on the market, in my opinion.

“I am sure there will be people who will disagree and while there are now many different operating systems and devices to debate over, I could bring up the security that BlackBerry devices always bring, the great integration of a work and personal environment or excellent Hub feature amongst many others. These are the kind of features that, like chip speed or any number of gimmicky features the leading manufacturers are adding to differentiate themselves, will only be of interest to one segment of the market.

“My argument would be that phone technology has reached that point where faster and faster is not actually making a huge amount of difference and most gimmicks are just that. Phones from a few years ago will still browse the web, play mp3s and allow you to use any number of messaging systems to stay in touch. Most of the time they can make calls too.

“While it has always been the case, to some extent, it is now more prevalent than ever, the biggest aspect to a phones quality is the operating system and BB OS10 is a step ahead of Android and IOS with its gesture based control.

“On a side note, had I been doing this article a year ago I would have raised the issue of apps however a steady flow of updates to the system, while bringing many improvements on an already great operating system, have opened up the vast majority of Android apps for use so this is very rarely an issue.”

Of course the choice to utilise Android or BlackBerry could be down to integration and security, along with handset costs. Whether you are Android, BlackBerry or Apple, it’s great to see a more even playing field when it comes to user experience.

What do you think?

Stay tuned for Monday’s blog in which I explore an alternative Android to BlackBerry experience.

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.

Meet Paula Johnstone

August 20th, 2014

In today’s blog, we get the lowdown on Paula, Strategic Support at Total; from her background and experience, to her passions and interests.

Q: What does your new role at Total involve?

A: I have joined Total in the new role of Strategic Support, providing day to day co-ordination of the Services Team, strategic projects and planning for different areas of the business.

Q: How did it all begin?

A: My career began as a negotiator for an Estate Agents.  I have always been very customer focused and my career path subsequently led to customer facing roles, gaining experience along the way in project management, sales, marketing and CRM systems and working in different verticals but always with customers.  The journey has been interesting and enjoyable. I have found myself working with forward-thinking professionals in many different industries.

Q: Why did you join Total?

A: Having not worked within the telecoms industry itself, but having touched on it in my previous employment, I fancied a new direction and challenge. I had heard of Total’s reputation via a number of sources so jumped at the chance at joining a great company and being part of its future growth and development.

Q: What do you feel is the most exciting aspect of the industry?

A: I think the Cloud and SIP products are the most exciting and can see that these are the future. It’s an exciting time within the industry, fast paced and with so many different products everyone can identify with, as a consequence it reaches out and touches everyone.  I wanted to find something that was challenging but exciting at the same time and this industry certainly requires you to learn fast and adapt quickly. It’s a huge learning curve, but an enjoyable one.

Q: What aspects of business are you most passionate about?

A: Customer Service. An outstanding customer experience creates advocates and advocates are invaluable to a business. You don’t need to be a Steve Jobs to create this kind of customer experience, it’s hard and takes time, but it’s a process that can be launched like any other major change project or program. I would encourage every company to invest in Customer Service like Total has. It can be built into an organisation’s DNA, to rise above internal complexities to see and manage the whole picture from the customers point of view.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

A: Being creative and not one to sit around I am kept busy making cards, cooking or managing my evening and weekends business as a Therapist/Reflexologist (feet to anyone that is not familiar!). You have to be a very good listener!

Personally I love attending self-development workshops and seminars, working in my garden or you can always find me at wine tastings!

Jamie Sansom is Marketing Assistant at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog

SmartArt

August 18th, 2014

This week we look at what happens when art and mobile technology meet somewhere in the middle.

FRICKbits, via Kickstarter, allows you to make art out of your iPhone data. Named after its creator-developer, Laurie Frick, the FRICKbits app project initially sought $7,500 in funding to go live. This goal already been exceeded by over $10,000 with weeks left to go. It has clearly captured the imagination of many.

The premise is that every time you use your device, you generate data from making a call or ordering a pizza or sending a message. Rather than smart users remaining concerned about potential privacy issues regarding their data, with FRICKbits users are encouraged to turn their data, their lives, into art. As said on the pledge page itself, “Self-tracking data will be the ultimate ‘selfie’, personal data portraits gather over time on your phone.”

Blek is an award-winning Bauhaus style art puzzle game. Not only is the visual description difficult to explain but so is the premise, so I would wholeheartedly suggest viewing the official trailer first. Once you’ve done that, the premise of joining coloured dots, avoiding black dots with a drawn, dynamic flowing line, with no instructions may make more sense.

Due to its uniqueness and described by one reviewer as a ‘stroke of genius’, the game continues to be a phenomenal success. Previously reviewed in ‘App For That #22’, Blek is available for both Android priced at £1.75 and Apple, priced at 69p.

Abstraks Mobile App is of interest as the premise of the app is to allow artists who have, until now, flown under the radar, to share their work and ethos. Designed much like a magazine app, Abstraks features works of art you may never discover otherwise. Its goal is to connect artists globally, along with the ability to discover events and galleries to visit; how wonderful it would be to peruse artwork and exhibitions over a morning coffee.

Unfortunately, Abstraks didn’t achieve funding. However, as with many projects which don’t quite make it first time round, other platforms and goals can be considered. Hopefully, Abstraks will find another route to market.

And if you are an art fan and have previously attended the National Gallery in London, only to be told ‘no mobile photography’, you’ll be pleased to hear that the ban has been lifted. Along with the Tate, the National Gallery’s increasing engagement with visitors via social media has meant that the policy needed some review. I for one would be happy to revisit.

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.

There’s an app for that #24: Monitoring Your Intake

August 15th, 2014

With a recent focus on guidance regarding alcohol consumption levels, along with ensuring we make healthy lifestyle choices, why not download an app to monitor your intake? Whether it’s a post holiday detox, healthier eating or even a diet plan, you may find one of these apps helps keep you on the wagon.

Drinkaware has launched an iPhone app to track how much alcohol we drink. This app is all about ensuring a healthy lifestyle, enabling you to track units of alcohol alongside calories. The aim is to be more conscious of our drinking habits and understand the impact it may have on our health, whilst also providing encouragement to keep track of your alcohol-reduction-journey. With so many of us on the go, it can be hard to keep track of our consumption. However Drinkaware Track and Calculate makes this easy given we’re rarely without our mobile phones. The interface is clean and clear with plenty of rewards to aid with motivation.

Currently only available for iOS, however an Android version will be released at some point in the future.

Another option is the NHS Drinks Tracker. Although this app doesn’t come quite has highly recommended as the newer Drinkaware version, those who feel more assured following NHS advice may be inclined to give this a try.

This app is designed to calculate consumed alcohol units, with ‘personalised feedback’ and the ability to track your progress over weeks and even months. Only available for iOS.

And, because health benefits don’t pertain solely to alcohol consumption, there are also apps available which monitor your water intake, like the aptly titled Water Tracker. This simple but effective app calculates how much water you should drink based on your age, weight, sex and amount of exercise you do. We all know how easy it is to forget to drink enough water, which is where the handy alarm comes in, warning you when you are below target. Water Tracker is available on Android only, however there are several similar alternatives available on iOS

If neither water nor alcohol float your boat, or you want to substitute a cocktail for a mocktail, why not try embarking on a Smoothie routine using an app. Catering for ‘something for everyone’ is 100+ Smoothie Recipes Free.

Each smoothie recipe can be downloaded and used in the supermarket to select ingredients as you go. Or you can look up recipes which utilise the ingredients you already have.

Would you use any of these apps, or do you have one you would recommend?

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.

A Samsung phone with a premium feel

August 14th, 2014

Over the past few years some reviewers have criticised Samsung for producing smartphones that have a ‘plastic feel’. However, its latest flagship device, the Galaxy Alpha, has been released with a metal frame which the company has described as a ‘new design approach’.

The Galaxy Alpha has a 4.7 inch screen which makes it slightly smaller than Samsung’s Galaxy S5.

It’ 12MP camera isn’t as impressive as the S5’s 16 MP camera but the Galaxy Alpha is almost one fifth slimmer and is 31g lighter, despite its metal frame.Other features of the handset include:

  • 32GB of internal storage
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat operating system
  • A 2.1 MP front-facing camera

Samsung now face the challenge of introducing its ‘premium feel’ smartphone to the market without jeopardising the sales of its S5.

One expert has described the Galaxy Alpha as an ‘opportunity missed’ as despite its metal frame, its plastic cover on the back isn’t enough for the device to compete with full-metal bodied phones being produced by HTC and Apple.

The device is expected to go on sale during September – do you think the handset will be a success?

Let us know.

Jamie Sansom is Marketing Assistant at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog

Microsoft unveils new budget low-cost mobile phone

August 12th, 2014

The Nokia 130 is the latest low-cost mobile phone to be announced by Microsoft and it will cost buyers just £15.

The device does not offer any data connectivity therefore it will not have access to any of the company’s internet services.

However, reports suggest the Nokia 130 will be one of the cheapest mobile phones on the market that has the ability to playback video.

Along with its 4.6cm screen display, Nokia’s latest budget phone also features FM radio, an MP3 player, up to 32GB of external storage and Bluetooth connectivity.

Jo Harlow, Head of Microsoft’s Phone Business has said:

“This is a massive market segment, and there are not a lot of players in this segment for the reason that scale is really important,”

The Nokia 130 is cheap, it has an MP3 player and it does what all mobile phones were originally designed for – make phone calls!

Single and dual-Sim models are set for a worldwide launch by the end of September.

What are your thoughts on the Nokia 130?

Let us know.

Jamie Sansom is Marketing Assistant at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog

Good news for Windows Phone users!

August 11th, 2014

American tech giant Microsoft has recently reported that the number of mobile applications available for users to download from the Windows Phone store has almost doubled over the past year.

Records show that by the end of June 2014 there were 300,000 apps available. That’s a 94% increase from the same time last year.

The great news for Microsoft is that not only are there more apps available to please its users, but the company has also seen a 50% increase in the number of active app developers.

Apps such as FitBit and BlackBerry Messenger are just a few popular apps to launch on the tile-powered operating software along with ride-sharing app Uber.

If you’re new to Windows or are thinking about purchasing a Windows-powered smartphone, you might be interested in our Lumia 520 vs Moto E comparison video.

Are you a Windows smartphone fan and do you honestly believe it can be considered a serious competitor to market leaders Apple and Samsung?

Let us know.

Jamie Sansom is Marketing Assistant at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog