Category Archives: Mobile

“Read it Later” Apps

For a side project I’m working on, I want to support several different “read it later” type applications. Looking for apps that have both mobile support and APIs, it looks like the most popular options are Instapaper, Read It Later, and Readability.

All of these accomplish a similar task: bookmark a web page for later reading, and formatting it for easier reading. Mobile support is usually included, either for reading articles bookmarked earlier, or marking new ones to read on a desktop at a later time.

Here’s a quick summary of each service:

Instapaper

  • Free service with an optional subscription for $1/month
  • Desktop web browsing
  • Mobile: iPhone/iPad mobile app ($4.99), 3rd-party compatible apps for other mobile platforms
  • API: Simple API (username/password), or Full API (xAuth flavor of OAuth)

Read it Later

  • Desktop: Firefox extension, bookmarklets for others
  • Mobile: Android (pro $0.99), iPhone (free, or pro $2.99)
  • API: Yes, username/password

Readability

  • Subscription service at $5/month (70% of which goes to authors & publishers); $5 is minimum, can do more
  • Desktop web browsing: Yes, also Firefox extension
  • Read Now in browser free, Read Later & Mobile for subscribers only
  • Mobile: Web apps (Android, Blackberry), iPhone/iPad: web now, integration with Instapaper app coming soon
  • API: OAuth

I’ve just started playing with each of these apps and their APIs and will hopefully post more feedback on each.

Mobile Browser Share on Cantoni.mobi

The changing landscape in mobile device and browser market share has been a hot topic in the news lately. Last night I took a look at the numbers for cantoni.mobi, my directory of mobile website links. I used the Google Analytics data and in particular the mobile device detection capabilities. This accounts for about half of the cantoni.mobi traffic, with the other half being desktop browsers or “unknown”.

The following chart shows the percentage of the top 8 platforms visiting cantoni.mobi over the last nine months:

Chart: Cantoni.mobi visitor platform breakdown

Observations:

  • Android is the big gainer, growing from 4% to 21% of traffic
  • Blackberry gained from 16% to 24%
  • The above gains seem to be at the expense of Windows devices which dropped from 31% to 15%
  • iPhone + iPod share remained about the same
  • Symbian, Samsung and Palm all dropped slightly

Data source: Google Analytics mobile device reports for cantoni.mobi website

Sprint Website Down for 84 Hours (and Counting)

The Sprint website has been down and unusable for over 48 84 hours now as Sprint is launching a new software release. You can follow along with their Twitter account @sprintdotcom, watching as the early enthusiasm evolves into more-infrequent, depressing updates. I realize that having the site down is probably not the end of the world (certainly, keeping the Phone network itself up should be job #1 over there), but this “upgrade” is starting to look like a real snafu.

Normally I don’t visit Sprint.com much, but this weekend I needed to activate a replacement phone and couldn’t get it done online. Visited the local Sprint store today and got it taken care of, but even the Sprint staff was grumbling about their in-store software which was also just updated.

Cute outage message screenshot (click for larger image):

Sprint Website Outage Message
Sprint Website Outage Message

Palm Desktop to Outlook: Better Contacts Migration

Having switched phones recently from an aging Treo 650 to a BlackBerry 8830, I once again put myself in the mess of transferring my calendar and contacts from one device to the other. In the past I’ve switched between Palm Desktop and Outlook by careful use of the Palm’s HotSync conduits. With the switch to a BlackBerry, those old tricks weren’t available. Luckily I was already syncing my Calendar with Outlook, so that left the migration of Contacts for me to solve.

I tried the old trusty CSV file export/import path, but even after painstakingly assigning field names to columns, the results were still jumbled (home phone number labeled as Work, and so on). The Palm Desktop CSV import/export process still has a few bugs in it, including not being able to reliably label the exported fields.

Enter vCard. Palm Desktop does have vCard support (for single or multiple contacts), and does fill in the fields more accurately. And Outlook accepts them as an import format. The only hitch was that Outlook can only handle vCard files with a single contact. Rather than repeat that process for several hundred contacts, I tried (then bought) vCard ImportExport by Topalt.com. This simple Outlook add-in lets Outlook handle vCards with multiple contacts.

With my new vCard software in hand, here’s the process that ultimately worked best for transferring my contacts from Palm Desktop to Outlook:

  1. In Palm Desktop, export each category of contacts to its own vCard (.vcf) file (e.g., Personal category -> personal.vcf)
  2. In Outlook, use vCard ImportExport to import the first category vCard file
  3. Select all contacts just imported and assign to that category (normally they come in with no category assigned)
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 for remaining categories

The only problem I encountered was that the Notes field from the Palm Desktop side ended up in Notes and in Web Page fields in Outlook. Not sure if this is a bug with the importer, or Outlook itself. I wrote a quick Outlook macro to clean those up.