Category Archives: Product Reviews

Review: 10 of the best iPhone Bike Apps

Following on from my post on iPhone Bike Mounts, here is the list that I promised containing the top ten iPhone Bike Apps. Some are free, some are paid but they’re all available in the app store now and are designed to make tracking your movements and recording your progress as easy as possible, in addition, some of the apps will provide some form of navigation or integrate with maps from the Ordinance Survey.

Whether you commute to work on your bike, cycle for fun or to keep fit, there will no doubt be an app here that will come in handy. I’m not going to pretend to be a cycling enthusiast – my bike only comes out of the shed about 4 times a year, but writing this gave me a good excuse to fetch it out and take it for a spin to see how these apps measure up.

Reviewing 10 apps in full would probably have killed me, so I only tested the main, basic features of the app. For a more detailed review of some of the features, you’ll need to read the reviews in iTunes, but you’ll find a summary of the app and my initial thoughts listed below.

Download MotionX GPS in iTunes1. MotionX GPS

I was keen to try Motion X as it’s had a lot of mentions and recommendations on various iPhone forums. As with most of the apps here, there are two versions, a Lite version and the fully functioning app. The full version has more features than the lite version and is well worth the £1.79.

It’s one of only a few apps that have iPod support built in, allowing you to change/control your music without having to quit the app and lose your data. Controls on screen are clear and simple and can be used even when cycling. It can store over 300 waypoints, 100 routes and has the option of sharing them using Google Earth, Google Maps or Facebook/Twitter. As well as recording your route, it will allow you to monitor your speed, distance and journey time.

MotionX Lite – Free MotionX GPS

MotionX GPS – £1.79 MotionX GPS

RunKeeper for iPhone 3G & 3GS2. RunKeeper

There are two versions of this app available, the free version and the pro version – I tried the free version and was pretty impressed. The App isn’t just for cycling, it can be used for a number of sports and has the ability to change activity in the app settings. It tracks your speed, distance travelled and number of calories burned off and tracks your progress on a map. All workouts can then be synced to a website where you can monitor your progress

It has built in support for iPod so you won’t need to close the app to change tracks or switch playlists, but as with every app on this list, if you get a call or a text it can interfere with the data it records. Hopefully when iPhone OS 4.0 comes out next month this kind of app is one that will be able to run in the background.

The extra features in the Pro version don’t add any extra features to the core purpose of the app, but allow you to do more with the camera & iPod, as well as giving you audio updates on your progress through your headphones.

RunKeeper – Free Download in iTunes

RunKeeper Pro – £5.99 Download in iTunes

Cyclemeter for iPhone 3G & iPhone 3GS3. Cyclemeter

At just under £3 this is a great app. In terms of functionality it’s similar to RunKeeper, (to be fair, the functionality of all the apps on this list are very similar) but the main difference is that this app has been designed specifically for cyclists, with other dedicated apps for running & walking. Featurewise this is a real challenger to RunKeeper as it’s half the price, but has pretty much all the same features – possibly a couple more.

I liked the fact that you can start and stop tracking by using the answer button on your earphones instead of having to touch your phone. Voice prompts and alerts are another prominent feature of the app – you can set up alerts that tell you your speed, distance etc at pre-defined intervals, or just tap your headphone remote for an update.

Recorded routes can be uploaded to Google Maps and shared with others and it’s got twitter and facebook support too -but to be honest most of your friends will be too busy playing farmville to notice that you’ve just been on a bike ride.

Cyclemeter – £2.99 Cyclemeter GPS Cycling Computer for Road & Mountain Biking

Download SportyPal Bike in iTunes4. SportyPal

SportyPal is essentially a speedometer for your bike. It uses GPS data to calculate your speed and distance travelled. It stores your routes and lets you upload them to the SportyPal website, where you can analyse and review your trips.

It’s simple, works well and has a nice clean interface. It’s jumped on the Facebook/Twitter bandwagon, but I’m not really sure what the point of it is.

It’s a good app if you’re just looking for simple tracking and speed data, but there are other apps that do more for slightly less, although none of them are quite as clean and simple to use.

SportPal – £2.99 Download in iTunes

Download B.iCycle in iTunes5. B.iCycle

This is a really nice app that’s been designed specifically for cyclists – and it shows. The screen layout is clear and uncluttered. You have 3 screen options – split screen shows your speed and position on a map, big map for full screen tracking on a map and a data screen that shows all the stats you could possibly want to see.

There is an export option – at the end of your trip the app will ask you if you want the route emailing to you as a KML or GPX file. You can then use this file in Google Maps/Earth to see where you’ve been. Maps in the app are downloaded as they’re needed, but once downloaded, it saves it on to the device, allowing you to continue to use the app even if you’re out of signal.

It’s not as fully featured as some of the others in this list, but it’s still worth looking at, although there’s no lite or trial version, so you’ll need to pay to try it.

B.iCycle – £5.99 Download in iTunes

OutDoors6. OutDoors

Outdoors is a great app, but not one for the casual cyclist. Mountain bikers, trekkers and walkers who enjoy venturing cross country will absolutely love it, but for your average city commuter it’s probably got way more than you’re ever likely to need.

It has maps from Ordnance Survey maps included with the application that allow you to browse and plan routes across your chosen region. As you’d expect with OS maps, the level of detail is excellent and in 1:250000 scale. Maps are stored on your phone, so even if you lose signal you can continue to wander about. You can build and plan your own routes on the device or import them from the web and save them on your phone.

The App isn’t designed exclusively for cycling as it gives you the choice of either walking or cycling. The only downsides to this one are that it’s not cheap – The main app is free but for more detailed regional maps, you’ll need to download them as an in-app purchase – these are currently going for around £10 each – so for the whole of the UK, it could get expensive. Having said that it’s still an awesome app. Tracking isn’t as detailed as some of the others in the list, but this is more about route planning and navigating than it is tracking your route and recording your progress.

OutDoors is free, but regional maps are £9.99 via in-app purchase Download in iTunes

Download EveryTrail in iTunes7. Every Trail

EveryTrail is similar in a few ways to Trails but has a lot more functionality. It allows you to track your routes, attach geo-tagged photo’s to your route and then share your routes with friends and family either through Facebook & Twitter, or through the EveryTrail website (Pro Version only). You can save your trips and can also search through trips made by other app users.

To be honest, for commuters and those who cycle to keep fit you might struggle to find a use for this. It can be used for walking as well as cycling, and I’m more likely to use this again then next time I go camping or on a trekking weekend than I am the next time I go out on my bike. It’s a great app for recording and sharing where you’ve been and is a must have app if you enjoy leisurely walks or bike rides out in the country.

I tried the free version which is ad supported and didn’t really bother me too much. The free version doesn’t give you the option to sync your routes with the EveryTrail servers or let you save maps for use offline, so if you’re out cycling in the middle of nowhere and lose signal, you could have problems. Start off with the free version to make sure it’s what you need, and if it is upgraded to the Pro version – the £2.39 is well worth it.

EveryTrail – Free Download in iTunes

EveryTrail Pro – £2.39 Download in iTunes

Download The Bike Computer in iTunes8. The Bike Computer

The Bike Computer is a relatively simple, no frills app that tracks your route and displays information on your progress. It’s from the same developer as EveryTrail, but is clearly their budget offering.

It does an ok job, information is clear and easy to read while you’re cycling, but I found it a little on the buggy side. Updates are promised soon, so if you only cycle for a hobby and don’t need anything too serious it’s an ok app to go for.

Cost: Free Download in iTunes

Download Trails from iTunes9. Trails

This is more of a tracking app than a monitoring app. It’s all about recording where you’ve been, recording gps data for photos. It has got some monitoring ability, but speed is recorded as minutes per mile, suggesting that it’s aimed more at walkers than cyclists.

I tried the free version, which was fine, but it only lets you store 5 routes at a maximum of 5 minutes in lenght, so if you’re often going out and about and want to record where you’ve been, you’ll need to pay for the full version which gives you unlimited routes. Routes can be imported and exported in the GPX and KML formats – standard formats for handling GPS data to geo-tag photo’s and record your journeys in google maps and various other online sites.

Trails Lite – Free Trails

Trails – £2.39 Download in iTunes

Download Trailguru in iTunes10. Trailguru

This is a really simple, basic tracking app. It tracks distance, speed and elevation. You can view where you’ve been on a map and post your route to the Trailguru website. It’s pretty basic, but does what it sets out to do.

There’s no iPod integration either, so you’ll may lose data when trying to change track. Although it’s a free one, there are other, better alternatives.


Trailguru – Free Download in iTunes

One app that’s worth a small mention that I already had on my phone was CoPilot Live. While strictly speaking it’s not a biking app, it does have a cycle mode and is better at getting you from point A to point B than some of the others listed above. What it lacks though is any form of tracking – but if like me you end up in a random field in a part of town you’ve never seen before you’ll be glad you had it!

So there we go, that’s my top ten iPhone Bike apps. If you use any of the apps listed here, let me know what you think of them, or if you think I’ve missed any out add it to the list by leaving a comment below.

Hands on Review: Clip & Talk Bluetooth Car Kit – Solar Edition

Solar power has been making an appearance in more and more mobile phone accessories over the last year or so. Initially only available as stand alone Solar Powered Chargers, the technology has now found it’s way into mobile phone cases, Bluetooth Headsets and Bluetooth Car Kits.

Of all of the accessories available, Bluetooth Car Kits are the most logical accessory to make use of solar power – after all, they do spend most of their time either on your dashboard or sun visor.

Clip and Talk Bluetooth Car Kit - Solar Edition

Clip and Talk Bluetooth Car Kit - Solar Edition

Until recently there were only a couple of Solar Powered Bluetooth car kits available – the LG HFB-500 and the Drive Solar Pro. The latest car kit to join the range is the Clip & Talk Solar Edition. The Clip and Talk range has always been a popular kit that offers great value for money. Mobile Fun recently asked me to write a review for them so I thought I’d put the latest addition to the Clip and Talk family to the test to see how it performs. Continue reading

Hands on with the Jabra Halo Bluetooth Headphones

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Visit unofficialmobileblog.co.uk for the latest posts

Stereo Bluetooth Headsets come in all shapes and sizes, from the incredibly tiny Sony Ericsson IS-800 to the rather large Nokia BH-604 – and most of them still involve cables, which to some extent takes away the point of having a Stereo Bluetooth headset in the first place.

Jabra have always made great Bluetooth headsets, but until recently their only Stereo Bluetooth Headset was the Jabra BT3030 – a great handsfree/headphone solution that hangs around your neck and allows you to connect any standard 3.5mm headphones to it. The ‘Dogtag’ style control unit gives you full control over your music playback and volume, but it’s unique styling might not appeal to everyone.

Earlier this month, Jabra released the Halo – a pair of stylish compact bluetooth headphones that are completely free of wires and have dual microphones to reduce background noise during calls. The Jabra Halo supports streaming music in stereo, playback controls (A2DP & AVRCP) and volume control. All sounds great on paper, so I decided to get a pair out and try them.

Jabra Halo

Jabra Halo

Continue reading

A Guide to Nokia Car Kits

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Visit unofficialmobileblog.co.uk for the latest posts

If you were to think of a fully fitted car kit, chances are two brands will spring to mind – Nokia or Parrot. Both of these companies make some great kits, Parrot have their awesome MKi range that you can connect your phone and music player to and Nokia have just recently updated their car kit line up to add more focus on music & mapping integration and to make installation quicker and easier.

I think I’m right in saying that the most popular Nokia Car Kit ever was the CARK-91 – the one that had a cradle for the old Nokia 6110/ 6210/ 6310. Since Bluetooth arrived on the scene a few years ago, car kits have moved away from having bulky cradles that are screwed to your dashboard, to more discreet remote controls that blend into your dashboard and don’t draw attention.

The Classic Nokia Carkit & Nokia 6210

The Classic Nokia Carkit & Nokia 6210

When it comes to car kits, the question I’m asked the most is “Can I just change the cradle?” The answer unfortunately is no. If you’ve already got an older Nokia Car Kit installed in your car and are looking to upgrade it to work with current Nokia handsets, unless your car kit is a bluetooth one, it’s not upgradable and you’ll need to replace the whole kit. Even the microphone.

While this might sound like it’s going to be expensive, fitted car kit prices have come down in price considerably over the past few years, so replacing your kit might not cost as much as you’d think – not only that, but Nokia have changed the way that the kits connect to your vehicle, so depending on the car and stereo that you’ve got, you might be able to install it yourself. Now before you get too excited, Installing a car kit yourself isn’t that easy – even with the newer ISO Car Kits. You will still need to remove some fascia panels from your car or dashboard, remove the stereo and possible connect wires to the car power supply. I tried to install my own, got 90% of the way there and had to give in and call the professionals, so if you want an easy life (and a car that still starts) get it installed professionally. Shop around for installation though, realistically you shouldn’t need to pay much more than £50 for a standard installation and you’ll probably find that small, independent companies will be able to fit it to the same standard, but for half the price. I had my Parrot MKi9000 installed by www.myvehicle.co.uk at their workshop for about £45.

On to the Car Kits then. Nokia now offer 3 car kits, the Nokia CK-100, CK-300 and CK-600. Each one offers different levels of integration with your phone, and as the model names suggest, the higher the number the more features you get. All three have now dropped the external speaker and will now route all calls and music through your Car Stereo as standard.

Continue reading

and the best 8MP Camera phone is…

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Visit unofficialmobileblog.co.uk for the latest posts

Barely a month goes by with out at least two handsets going head to head. Over the last year or so, most of the battles have been against the iPhone, with manufacturers trying desperately to out perform it. Interestingly, Nokia haven’t yet taken it on with a touch screen device, but its on the cards with the launch of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. I don’t know about you, but I’m almost fed up of reading about "this phone’s better than the iPhone", so I thought I’d pay more attention to a more serious battle thats about to commence between Sony Ericsson, LG and Samsung. The Battle for the best 8MP Cameraphone.

Samsung have the edge here, they were first to release an 8MP camera phone, the INNOV8 i8510. The i8510 is full of features and comes with either 8GB or 16GB of internal memory. In terms of the phones design, its not really anything we’ve not seen before. It looks like a more stylish version of the Nokia N95, and runs the same operating system. I’m not going to focus too much on the spec, I’m more interested in the camera, so for detailed information on what all of these phones can do, head over to the comparison page. The i8510 has some cool camera features such as geotagging, automatic panorama shooting, face detection, smile detection, and blink detection. Face detection means that the camera will keep the faces in focus, while smile and blink detection will only take the photo once everyone is smiling and their eyes are open. Clever stuff.

The Samsung i8510 is available now in both 8GB and 16GB versions and is priced from around £500.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to see 3 more 8MP cameraphones make their appearance – The Sony Ericsson C905, LG Renoir and the Samsung Pixon.

The LG Renoir is a touchscreen device that builds on the style and popularity of the LG Viewty. As with all of the phones mentioned here, the spec is pretty impressive with high speed internet and a flashy touch based interface. The camera is good, but feature-wise, hasn’t got as much on it as some of its competitors. The interface is the same as was on the LG Viewty, but with the addition of a few new features and a Xenon Flash. One of its best features is the touchscreen focus. This allows you to focus on any object in your image, simply by touching the screen of the phone. The LG Renoir has smile and face detection, but unlike the i8510, its single face only, so group shots are a no go. It also features Blink Detection, but again, not in the same way as the others, rather than not allowing you to take a photo if the eyes are closed, the Renoir will warn you after you’ve taken the photo that someone blinked. I can’t really see the point of this though.

See the LG Renoir full specification.

The LG Renoir is expected to be released towards the end of October for around £360.

The Samsung Pixon is closer in specification to the Renoir than it is the i8510. From the back it looks more like a camera than a phone, but to be honest, although the camera is great, it’s not an all singing all dancing phone like you might expect. The user interface is the "le croix" menu system that is found on the Samsung Tocco and F490, so its pretty simple to use. Its not a high spec phone like the i8510, so if like me you’re a gadget lover who wants your phone to do everything, then this may not be the phone for you. The camera works really well. It has a similar focus system to the Renoir, where you just touch the screen to focus on the object you’re taking the photo of, and like the i8510 has face detection, smile detection, and blink detection. In addition, the Pixon also has a nifty little feature that most facebook users will be familiar with – the ability to tag people in the photos! By tagging the people in your photos to the names in your address book, you can text or call them while looking through your photos. Its different, and probably of limited appeal, but is an extra camera feature over its competitors.

See the Samsung Pixon full specification.

The Samsung Pixon is expected to be released towards the beginning of November for around £370.

The Sony Ericsson C905 for me is the best of the bunch. The joint venture between Sony and Ericsson is really starting to bring some major advantages to the Sony Ericsson Cyber-Shot range. The imaging censor in the C905 is the same as the one used in a Sony Digital SLR Camera, and you really can tell. The images are clearer and sharper than the other 8MP handsets, and some of the camera features can’t be beaten. For night time shots, the C905 excels as it is one of the few cameraphones on the market that features a Xenon Flash, this gives much better lighting at night, more accurate colours and allows photo’s to be taken at a greater distance than an LED flash. All cybershot phones feature Bestpic, where a series of 7 images are taken in quick succession, allowing you to save the best. The C905 now lets you use the flash when taking photo’s using BestPic. A new feature for the C905 is Smart Contrast, without getting too technical, this is where the camera will take an image, and combine with an under exposed and over exposed version of the same image to create the best possible photo. Another cool feature that the C905 has is support for DLNA which in simple terms allows you to playback your photos over a wireless network to any other DLNA enabled device such as TV’s or Laptops. The C905 has Face Detection, geo-tagging and supports panoramic photos.

See the Sony Ericsson C905 full specification.

The Sony Ericsson C905 is expected to be released towards the end of October for around £400.

All of these handsets seriously raise the bar when it comes to camera phones and all of them could easily replace your existing digital camera. If I had to choose just one of these handsets, then without doubt it would be the Sony Ericsson C905. The i8510 is an excellent phone, but if you don’t need all the bells and whistles and the extra functionality on it then the C905 will suit you perfectly. As anyone here will tell you, I’m an Apple fan, and rave constantly about my iPhone, but as much as I love it, the C905 is the one handset that would tempt me away from it – and not just for the camera. Its well built, the software on the phone works well and is the tried and tested Sony Ericsson menu system with a few extras. I’d miss the touch screen, but not for long as the ability to take excellent photo’s will easily compensate.



Sample photo’s will hopefully be available here soon – no promises!