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Skype phone readies itself while mobile VoIP competition mounts

It's the weekly Pocket Picks round-up
Product: Pocket Picks Update | Format: Mobile
Pocket Picks Update Mobile, thumbnail 1
Last week began with a battle cry from 3 and Skype who by the time you read this will have released their long-rumoured Skype phone that enables users to make free calls via the VoIP service.

It seems the wading of VoIP into less muddy telecommunications waters is inevitable and partnerships of this sort (between networks and dedicated VoIP service providers) are sure to become increasingly common.

Indeed, VoIP related news was still going strong into Tuesday, with Yeigo announcing a pricing structure for its VoIP messaging service.

Towards the end of the week, it was Geodesic looking to shake things up in the VoIP stakes with the mobile release of its Fring-alike Mundu IM service, which offers all sorts of cool features such as media sharing.

But if you're going to take advantage of any sort of mobile VoIP app, you're going to need to be holding a pretty robust data package, which can be pricey. So it was nice to hear about T-Mobile's 30-day free wi-fi promotion that's being implemented throughout Starbucks stores.

Speaking of T-Mobile, the company also released an interesting new social community price plan aimed at helping users put friends and family first, by allowing you to assign unlimited calls texts and picture messages to five people regardless of the network they're on.

Furthermore, T-Mobile also announced its pricing plans for the iPhone, which while very competitive natively in Germany don't appear to be quite as good in the value stakes as O2's UK offerings.

In related Apple news, the company introduced a new policy limiting iPhone sales to two units per person in an effort to try and control the number of devices being unlocked. There was also the emergence of spy shots purporting to be of the iPhone nano, which as of yet are unconfirmed, however convincing they appear.

Elsewhere, the iPhone's influence was being felt with devices looking to imitate its famous features. There was the debut of Sony Ericsson's touchscreen interface, which has been given the name Maria. Then it was the N95's turn, with the release of an app that adds iPhone-like auto screen rotation.

But the biggest news of the week came from Nokia with the official launch of its Nokia Music Store, although whether or not it will be able to stand up to the might of iTunes remains to be seen. Something that looks like it could definitely go head-to-head with iPhone is the N96, which while still at the concept phase looks very fancy indeed.

Lastly, it turns out that texting is the second favourite habit of smokers in the wake of the smoking ban. Those who merrily smoke and text even have a name for their habit: smexting. And talking of bans, there was also evidence that stricter laws may not yet be deterring drivers from talking on mobiles while at the wheel.

Still, on a lighter note, two very skilled craftsmen with way too much time on their hands dressed up as iPhones for Halloween. The heart wants what it wants, as they say. Click 'Track it!' to catch next week's round-up.

Reviewer photo
Fraser MacInnes 4 November 2007
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