There's been a lot of talk about making smartphones more affordable in developing markets with offerings using Mozilla's Firefox OS and Google offering the Android One program, but did you ever think you'd benefit from it yourself whilst picking up some corn flakes?


Alcatel Onetouch will be selling the Pixi 3 (3.5) - confusing name alert! - in Sainsbury's for just £20.
Naturally, you don't expect the latest specs on a £20 - I have to say that again £20! - smartphone, but you can still message, Facebook, look up stuff, and find places, as well as take basic photos. It can even take memory cards. It uses Android KitKat, so it's not some bizarre OS, and of course you can get access to Google's Play Store. You can pick one up online from here.


Just a week after OFCOM revealed that it received the most complaints from EE customers, Which? has done a national retail survey which makes uncomfortable reading for EE.

Which? 's latest survey showed that whilst companies like Lush and John Lewis do well in customer service, EE is the worst out the 100 UK companies they researched. From personal experience, it's hard to argue with the results. It's harder to know which is less likely, getting served by a member of staff, or getting an intelligent answer as staff simply don't seem to care and show their contempt for customers disrupting an otherwise pleasant day doing nothing and getting paid for it.
This does leave the question of what BT should do with EE when they complete the purchase. One suggestion is that they should sack all EE staff, management and executives. It doesn't seem that beyond offering the largest 4G network, that EE is able to offer customers anything else.

A quick question, if your home is broken, do you A) Bemoan your luck or B) Start your security technology company and invent a new alarm system?


Founders Herbert Hellemann, George Platon and Wouter Verhoog opted for option B) after Herbert Hellemann had a break in.
BuddyGuard is a German home security startup. Flare is BuddyGuard’s first home security system. It features an HD camera, motion detector, accelerometer, temperature sensor, speaker & siren, 3G module, WiFi and battery slot.

BuddyGuard has began a campaign to raise €80,000 on Kickstarter to complete the development of Flare, its innovative home security system.
Flare is a user-friendly, smart home security system. A small, elegant device, Flare uses artificial intelligence to protect your home. It imitates typical household sounds to drive away burglars and automatically calls the police or security services in the event of a burglary. Flare uses facial recognition software to assess who enters your home, and also acts as a smoke and heat detector.
Herbert Hellemann, the founder of BuddyGuard, says:
“Traditional home alarm systems are too complex. They’re either comprised of multiple components and require professional installation, or they’re too simple, like a webcam or baby monitor. Flare is clever: it’s like an invisible guard dog that recognises and protects your family and your home. I’m excited to bring Flare to the crowdfunding community.”

Upon a successful campaign, BuddyGuard will bring Flare to mass market. We must admit, that it all looks very clever, and cheaper than fitting a conventional alarm system too.

Yamaha have a fine pedigree in Hifi and AV Receivers, so we must admit to being more than a little interested to hear what 2015's range is like. Thankfully, we have all the details below.


Here's some info from Yamaha themselves:

Here's the full line up, with prices and launch dates:
ETA June 2015, SRP £299.95, 5.1 Surround Sound, Bluetooth, HDCP 2.2, HDMI 2.0, 4k60p, Compressed Music Enhancer, ECO Mode
ETA July 2015, SRP £399.95, 5.1 Surround Sound, Bluetooth, Network, WiFi, HDCP 2.2, HDMI 2.0, 4k60p, Compressed Music Enhancer, ECO Mode, App Control
ETA July 2015, SRP £499.95, 7.1 Surround Sound, Zone B, Bluetooth, Network, WiFi, HDCP 2.2, HDMI 2.0, 4k60p, Compressed Music Enhancer, ECO Mode, App Control
ETA July 2015, SRP £599.95, 7.1 Surround Sound, Zone 2, Party Mode, Bluetooth, Network, WiFi, HDCP 2.2, HDMI 2.0, 4k60p, Compressed Music Enhancer, ECO Mode, App Control
ETA July 2015, SRP £699.95, 7.1 Surround Sound, Zone 2, HDMI Zone B, Aluminium Front, MM Phono Stage, Party Mode, Bluetooth, Network, WiFi, HDCP 2.2, HDMI 2.0, 4k60p, Compressed Music Enhancer, ECO Mode, App Control

Currys / PC World seem to have snagged a bit of an exclusive. They'll be launching the the Alcatel Onetouch Watch in June for just £99. To put that in perspective, that's half the price of most other smart watches at launch and will work with both Android and iOS devices.

Here's some information from Alcatel Onetouch:
The specs don't look too bad either, so we look forward to having a closer look in due course.


The Financial Times is reporting that a European network is planning on blocking Google ads in it's mobile network.


The article reveals that a carrier has confessed that it and other networks may be planning on adding new software to it's servers which would block ads from Google, Yahoo and AOL. It still would allow Facebook and Twitter ads ( )
Coincidentally, the company that developed the software is also partly owned by the guy who owns Three...
It looks like networks may not be amused by Project Fi and also fancy taking a cut of Google's ad revenue, although we're not quite sure how this would square with European net neutrality.

I've had an Apple Watch Sport and Steel with Milanese Loop for two weeks now, and rather than write a review (there's hundreds out there), I thought I'd share my thoughts and experiences. Obviously, this is a very personal take on things and I'll declare now that, just as with tablets, I'm a smartwatch sceptic. I've owned two Sony Smartwatchs and a Pebble, but like everyone else, my interest was peaked once again by Apple's hype machine. So, what do I think?


First of all, I'll start with an apology. This is more a jumble of thoughts, comments and opinions, and may not make the most coherent or consistent read. I may even contradict myself at points, but that's nothing new.
Apple are the last of the main players to the smartwatch arena. We keep being told that wearables are the future by press, analysts and the companies themselves. Apple decided to cast a long shadow over the rest of the industry by taking its time to release the Apple Watch. It also took the extraordinary step of launching it more than 6 months before release just to take the wind of Google's sails with its launch of Android Wear last summer. It was a rather cynical attempt to stop people buying Android Wear products over the last few months of 2014, and wait for the Apple Watch.
The one key thing Apple's hype machine did achieve though was to raise awareness of smartwatches. My Mum wants an Apple Watch, but doesn't seem to know why, and I'm still not sure if I do either. As far as I can tell, the primary function of a smartwatch is to provide you with the time and notifications. Naturally, there are secondary functions such as fitness and other potentially useful things such as easy payments, and security devices to open doors etc.
If you want to have a quick gander at every email, message, tweet, like etc without having to pick up your phone, then this might be for you. Then again, if you don't give a monkey's uncle about checking your notifications on your phone, then smartwatches probably aren't for you either. I must admit that I'm somewhere in the middle, and I'll try to go into my experiences at some point during this article.
I'll try going through my experiences in some sort of chronological order, but I may well stray, or go off in complete tangents.
The first thing I noticed was that the Apple Watch is packaged differently, according to what model you buy. The Sport comes in a long thin plastic box, whilst the Watch comes in a box more akin to conventional watches, although both do have their own take. The feeling when opening either will be familiar to anyone who's owned Apple products before. There's something pornographic about unpackaging an Apple product. Other companies have tried to replicate the experience, but Apple remains the king of geek porn.

Both watches are attractive, but the Sport looks and feels more like a well made conventional tech product, whilst the Watch looks and feels like a genuine piece of jewellery. I can't comment on the Edition, as my credit card doesn't stretch that far! I would however expect a chorus of 'Hallelujah's' and a mandatory cheer, whoop and slap on the back from an Apple sales assistant when opening the box. This leads me to my first thought. Are you wearing a piece of tech or a piece of jewellery? There's a definite divide here. It's a question of form or function being most important to you. How conscious are you of your appearance etc? If all you care about is the tech, then buy a Sport.
Getting back to the unboxing, you also find a long (2 metre) charging cable and a plug in each box. I wondered about why I got such a long cable, but then slowly came to realise that this is meant for a bedside table, rather than attached to your laptop. Naturally, the distance from the plug socket to a good place on your bedside table may be further, especially if you want to cable hidden away nicely. In that way, it's a real shame Apple hasn't adopted wireless charging for the Watch. It's not much effort to plonk the watch on the charger and feel it magnetically click into place, but wireless charging would be, well, a future feature I guess.
A special shout out should go to the plug, for not being the standard 3 pin plug in the UK, but one which is flickable. Obviously, Apple did this to reduce packaging size, but it'd be nice if all detachable plugs came this way.

As for the set up process, I won't go into it much as there's an excellent guide on how to set up your watch (I almost wrote phone!) here. I must however comment on how sexy the QR globe is when setting up. It's hypnotic. It's really beautiful. I mean it. I love it and wish it was a watch face.

It takes about an hour to set up and sync. I allowed it to sync all my apps automatically, but I deleted most of them quite quickly. I'll go into the reasons later. Whilst set up is a relative Apple like experience, I did find it veering into bad Android type patterns when completing my set up. I was having to delve into a variety of menus/ options etc switching things on and off. Very un-Apple and I saw Jonny Ive's halo slip fractionally. Speaking of switching things on/off. If you haven't turned off audio notifications from your watch within minutes of setting it up, I don't want to talk to you. You're obviously as annoying as the constant pings emitted from your wrist. Why Apple have this switched on by default is beyond me. Did I see Ive's halo slip a bit further?
I'm guessing not many people have had more than one Watch to this point, but it's good to report that if you migrate from one Watch to another, set up is painless and a very quick and easy process. One real shame is that I couldn't pair more than one Watch with my iPhone, and it wouldn't pair with an iPad.
Sticking with notifications for a minute, I do have my concerns. Whilst it's easy to swipe down whenever you see a red dot at the top of your screen (which is lovely, even in daylight by the way), I find it really annoying that you might be doing something on your watch, when a notification comes in and overrides what you're doing and you can't ignore it until you dismiss it. Speaking of which, whilst a smartwatch is good at giving you notifications, what happens when you get lots of them either from an overactive Twitter feed or a very noisy WhatsApp group? Whilst you can tweak your Twitter notifications, it's all or nothing with WhatsApp and really quite annoying. Also on the subject of annoying, I personally find email notifications pointless, firstly it will only show you text, and no HTML, but also I find smartwatches pointless as scrolling down a long message, whether an email or anything else, a painful experience.

I've discovered I'm using the Watch wrong. I hardly use the dial / crown. It's too fiddly for my liking, and I use my finger to scroll along the screen. The crown is basically reduced to one of two buttons for me to press.
What does work however is the Taptic Engine. It does have to be turned up to maximum, but it does do the job nicely in telling you to look at the Watch either for a notification, reminder or letting me know I've got a call when my phone is on silent.
What also works really well is Siri. A long press of the crown brings Siri up and I found myself regularly using it to either launch apps or give commands, especially when driving. I also found it good for having phone conversations whilst driving. Obviously, I wouldn't do that whilst walking down the street, in case I get thrown into a padded cell, or someone eavesdrops into my secret plans for world domination. (Ha! Ha! Ha!)
Speaking of which. I was obviously lifting my left hand wrongly until now. I'm definitely in the camp which is annoyed by the watch face not being on all the time. To add insult to injury, I found that when I lifted the watch to look at it, it didn't always automatically flick on. So I either had to give the screen a long touch, or repeatedly flick my wrist in a way that some people might think was waving obscene gestures at them. I can see that halo slipping further as Jonny makes us look like a bunch of w**kers.
That reminds me! Watch faces. There aren't many of them, and they're not as personalised as I'd like either. It's really annoying that Apple won't let third party watch faces as the animated ones of jelly fish or butterflies really only shout "Hey! I've got an Apple Watch everyone!" They've got no other real purpose.
Battery life on the Watch is well beyond my expectations. It never went below 50% remaining no matter what I did, and how long the day. On the flip side though, I did find the iPhone took a serious hit, of at least 20% a day. To top it all off, since using a Watch in conjunction with my iPhone, I often find that the phone's screen often doesn't switch off, and remains on for no apparent reason; draining the battery further unless I actively press the power button on the phone. Whilst the battery will never let you down if you're out for the whole day. It does mean that you do have to carry an extra charging cable (2 metres remember) if you're away overnight.

Before I get to the software, I thought I'd mention the bands. The Milanese Loop is lovely to look at, but then again, my everyday watch has the same design. It did seem fiddly at first putting it on, but I got used to it within a few days and it was very comfortable and infinitely adjustable thanks to it's magnetic strap. What I didn't like though was thanks to it's magnetic strap, I was having to tighten it again every hour or two as my muscle flexing seemed to loosen the strap. I've never had to do with this with a watch before. Conversely, whilst the Sport band was a bit fiddly to put on, I also found it less comfortable (although not uncomfortable) and it kept emphasising to me how hairy my arms are. It did this by either tugging on my hairs when putting the watch on and tucking away the strap, or by just slipping under my hairs and highlighting them in a peculiar fashion. It made me think that I needed to shave my wrists!

Before I forget, I also found that I kept accidentally taking screen shots of the clock whilst going about my daily business. I only found out when looking at the photo gallery on my phone. Not sure how I managed it, especially as other people say it's hard to do deliberately.
Software! I finally made it this far. (And thank you too if you have). I'm not sure what to make of it. Despite having watched all of Apple's videos before receiving my Watch, I still had difficulty using it naturally. Am I supposed to press the crown now? Do I force touch? Which way should I swipe? There didn't seem a coherent logic to it as far as I could tell. For example, when using the Fitness app on the watch, when finishing my run, I wanted to stop the activity on the watch, logic told me I should either swipe left or up from having used the Watch for more than a week. I finally found out that it's the one app which makes you swipe right! Whilst I'm not the smartest person around, I do like to think I've got a reasonably good handle on tech, and the Apple Watch challenged me.
I must admit that I liked the Activity App. It's simple and works on the nudge principle to get you doing what you know you should be doing. Saying that, I've ignored a couple of reminders to stand up whilst writing this piece.... I do wish that there was a bit more coordination between apps, so for example the heart rate monitor and accelerometers worked with third party apps such as Runtastic. Or that the calories burnt during a day went into MyFitnessPal. Apple has sealed off much of the software from outside developers, and that becomes particularly apparent when using Glances.
Glances are activated with a flick up the screen, and you can edit on your phone what you use. (Tip - Fewer the better.) What's frustrating is that Apple's Glances are interactive, ie. you can press something and do something. Third party Glances only tell you one single piece of information and that's it. This does lead to the issue of being a first generation product. Most developers didn't have access to the actual Watch before it was released and so made some pretty ropey apps. I hardly use any of them in honesty. Shazam is one of the few, as I found sticking my wrist out to hear music less obtrusive than putting a phone in the air. In addition, apps seem to take ages to launch, which is probably due to a combination of bad programming (from not having previous access), and also the iPhone acting as the brain for the Watch and relaying messages between each other all the time. This makes it all the more a frustrating experience and makes you want to pull out your phone to do a task....
One final thing which I did look into was the Health App on the iPhone. I've never looked at it until now, but it starts to give hints at where Apple is aiming to go. A smartwatch which can measure many of the parameters it offers in the App, becomes a very helpful tool in managing your health. Sure it won't be able to record everything, but if they can develop the Health Data collection in the Health App along with many other devices, it good get me very interested. One bone of contention though; it knows my weight, it knows my height. Why can't it work out my BMI?

Closing thoughts. Whilst this might be the best smartwatch I've used to date, I'm still disappointed, and don't think I need one yet. Beyond using it in the car, I don't think it's changed my life in any way which a simpler and cheaper fitness band wouldn't. To add to that, the software still needs much tweaking, and developers need to be able to be given more time and access to the Watch to make things work better.
Whilst the Apple Watch with Milanese Loop is nice to own, and makes a good replacement for my watch (which cost £100), it costs nearly £600. Add that onto £600 for an iPhone which you must have to use the Watch, and things start to look pretty expensive. In addition, if you're ever tempted by an Android phone, then you've just made your Watch redundant. I'd like to see more interoperability between ecosystems, but I guess that's not what the corporations want.

Photography apps are two a penny, and good apps by photographic companies are even rarer, so it comes as a major shock that Canon has released an app we rather like!


Amid the proliferation of such photographic devices as digital cameras and smartphones, along with the popularity of social networking sites, it is easier than ever to shoot and share photo images. PERSTEXT lets you insert dynamic text into saved images, which can then be shared with friends and family via popular social networks, or a printed copy. By enabling the simple creation of images that convey messages with a touch of flare, the application offers new methods of expression and communication.
Flexible perspective layouts with assorted editing functions
Adding text to an image is as easy as entering the text and then tracing on the screen of the device with your finger to insert the text. Changing the degree of angle gives the text perspective and creates a sense of depth. The application also makes it possible to insert text that appears as if it had been written on the floor or the ground. A variety of effects let you change the look and feel of photos. For a fee1, additional text effect and mask functions are also available to further expand PERSTEXT’s expressive capabilities.
Easily share on social networks
Images enhanced through the PERSTEXT application can easily be posted to such social networking sites including Twitter™, Facebook™ and Instagram™.
Print to an AirPrint-enabled inkjet printer
The PERSTEXT application provides support for AirPrint-enabled2 inkjet printers so you can easily print out the images you create.
Support for iPhone, iPad or iPod touch3
PERSTEXT has been developed for use on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and is available for download from the App Store.
How to create custom images with PERSTEXT
First, select a photo and enter some text. Next, trace two reference lines on the photo using the tip of your finger and the entered text will be inserted into the photo between the two lines. Complete the effect by adjusting the positioning and shape of the text to produce text with a sense of perspective matching that in the photo. Create works that match the image you envisioned by modifying the font and text color in accordance with the photo you’re working with.

I must admit rather liking the app. You can download it here.


OFCOM has produced it's latest quarterly results for the number of customer complaints OFCOM received for fixed phone line, broadband, mobile service and pay television services. It paints a compelling picture of one company in particularly upsetting it's customers, whilst two others come out surprisingly well.


The good news is that the total number of complaints OFCOM receives in going down for pretty much all services, although there still seem to be issues with fixed phone lines and broadband services.
All figures are per 1000 customers of that company.

When you break it down though, things start to get very interesting. Looking at the fixed landline services first: It's clear that EE, TalkTalk, the Post Office and Plusnet have far greater problems than Sky and Virgin Media.

Looking at Broadband, a familiar picture emerges. EE, Plusnet and TalkTalk stand out:

Things don't get better for EE with Pay Monthly mobile contracts. EE, Talk Mobile and Vodafone stick out this time. It may also surprise some people that Three and Tesco have the least complaints.

EE may be grateful that they don't have a large Pay TV offering for OFCOM to record, as this time BT and TalkTalk stand out this time.

Obviously, this is not a report on quality of service, but rather how often customers get so frustrated with the service they receive from customer services, and a failure to resolve issues before customers decide to go to OFCOM.
It would seem that Sky, Virgin Media, Tesco and Three stand out for best customer service, whilst EE leads Plusnet, BT and TalkTalk in poor customer service.