Mobile newsgathering has come of age.
Broadcasters and journalists know it, entertainment and social networks know it, unwitting citizen news-breakers and proud parents catching their 5-yo master their bicycle know it too.
Recently I wrote a feature for TechRadar on how mobile journalism will impact media coverage of the UK general election.
In the feature I speak to key mobile newsgathering practitioners from BBC, Sky News and Trinity Mirror to learn the role of mobile in the newsroom. Contributors (to whom I’m incredibly grateful) include Nick Garnett, Marc Settle, Harriet Hadfield and Alison Gow.
This came off the back of participating in MoJoCon 2015 in Dublin, the first international conference of its kind for mobile journalism and smartphone filmmaking.
Mojocon proved to the industry that mobile newsgathering – in all its forms – is now a primetime tool. It’s no longer a case of ‘why would you use a smartphone for video/audio/broadcast?’, it’s simply ‘why the the hell wouldn’t you?’.
Hosted by the Irish public service broadcaster RTÉ and attended by journalists and filmmakers from across the world, MoJoCon was a celebration of smartphone creativity and newsgathering ingenuity. It was the brainchild of mobile journalism pioneer and activist Glen Mulcahy.
I was particularly involved in the professional smartphone filmmaking stream, including hosting a session in the main hall featuring luminaries such as Neill Barham, boss man and Cinegenix, developer of go-to iOS videography app FiLMiC Pro (in my questioning I successfully ‘outed’ an upcoming and long-awaited Android version of the app); Taz Goldstein, author of Hand Held Hollywood (a book I downloaded when I first began filming on my phone); Newsshooter.com editor Dan Chung, and mobile film directors Conrad Mess, Michael Koerbel and Ricky Fosheim. You can watch the full session here.
— David McClelland (@DavidMcClelland) March 29, 2015
Head over to TechRadar to read my feature on mobile journalism and the UK General Election 2015 and keep an eye out on the Mojocon Twitter feed for more details on the next Mojo Conference.
This story first appeared in Computer Weekly in February 2015, you can find the original here.
Performance boost plus Windows 10 support for new Pi PC
The new Raspberry Pi 2 was announced today promising enough of a performance boost to make it ‘the second PC in the house’.
The credit-card sized computer debuted in 2012 and has since been embraced by schools, maker communities, industrial automation engineers and even the UK Space programme.
At today’s launch event its creator Eben Upton revealed a ripened Raspberry Pi with a quad-core ARMv7 processor and 1 GB RAM, claiming 6 times the speed of the previous B+ model.
This improved performance opens the door to a range of additional applications in schools and industry, as well as in the home.
Its in-home credentials may have been further boosted by the announcement that the Pi 2 will support both Ubuntu Linux and, thanks to a 6-month collaboration with Microsoft, Windows 10.
However, exactly what you’ll be able to do with a Windows-powered Pi isn’t entirely clear, even whether it will include a desktop user interface.
Speaking to Computer Weekly, Upton confirmed that the version of Windows 10 that Microsoft is to make available for free would be an IoT edition “more like what Microsoft did for Galileo [an Intel-based Arduino-compatible developer board].
“Microsoft has yet to make a statement about its exact capabilities, we don’t want to create an unjustified impression as to what capabilities it’s going to have.”
Despite the power-up the Raspberry Pi 2 maintains full compatibility with previous versions, sporting the same credit-card form factor and, importantly, the wallet-friendly price.
Since its release total sales of the maker machine have topped 4.5 million, and Upton anticipates a further three million units will ship this year alone. Not a bad return when initial sales projections for the Raspberry Pi were in the ‘tens of thousands’ range.
The Raspberry Pi 2 goes on sale today priced £24.94 + VAT.
First published 2nd February 2015 in Computer Weekly. Articles, features and reviews are reproduced on this site by prior arrangement as samples of my work and remain the property of their respective publishers and copyright owners.
Recently I got an early hands-on with the striking new Nokia Lumia 930 smartphone. Writing for Computer Weekly, here were my first impressions:
This article first appeared in Computer Weekly in July 2014, find the original feature here.
Nokia Lumia 930 Hardware
The Nokia Lumia 930 is a substantial handset in more ways than one. First up, the body: Nokia has adopted a sturdy aluminium unibody for its latest flagship, but has still chosen to decorate its back with the signature polycarbonate – neon green and orange get the Lumia treatment this season, with white and black completing line-up.
The Lumia 930’s Full HD 5-inch OLED screen is striking too: blacks are black, colours pop and despite the high-gloss it repels greasy fingermarks well, remaining readable even in direct sunlight. The bezel is narrow enough, and the curved edges of the scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3 screen lap onto the handset’s chassis, mirroring the contours on the rear.
The volume rocker, power and camera shutter buttons all sit along one side of the handset. This keeps the aesthetic clean but means that securing the 930 into most after-market car kits will result in one or more buttons being permanently depressed. Form 1, Function 0.
Beneath the vibrant exterior sits a quad-core 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset, 2 GB RAM and 32 GB storage. While the CPU is last-year’s model it’s certainly no slouch. Despite the missing MicroSD card slot Microsoft now bundles 15 GB of OneDrivecloud storage for free, and 1 TB if you’ve an Office 365 account.
Battery and Wireless Charging
As with other unibody handsets the 930’s battery isn’t removable, although I found the 2420 mAh unit lasted through the day.
Having toyed with wireless charging on the Lumia 920, Nokia once again integrates the feature and this time includes an induction charger in the retail box.
Disappointingly, I found it a bit flaky. On more than one occasion I left the handset atop the charger to find it hadn’t charged the phone. Software bugs need to be ironed out too, with the 930 insisting it was still charging hours after its removal from the charger.
Wireless charging is seen as a panacea by some but until reliability is improved many might still prefer the reassurance of a cable over the questionable convenience of a mat.
Also worth pointing out is that the chassis can get very, very hot on charge or in use.
The Lumia 930 features a terrific 20-megapixel PureView camera which makes shallow depth of field shots look natural without any clunky software processing. Optical image stabilisation, ZEISS 6-lens optics, dual-LED flash and lossless zoom top out the specs, but again the Lumia’s screen steals the show, making pictures pop like a print.
Windows Phone 8.1 is the newest version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system introducing features which many hoped might bring it in line with its competitors.
Action Centre apes the notification bars seen in Android and iOS. A swipe from the top of the screen recalls missed messages, a customisable quick menu and a shortcut to the phone’s main settings. A welcome addition to the operating system.
Swipe-style typing also debuts and, once you’ve the hang of it, is very accurate. However, Cortana, Windows Phone’s answer to Siri, hasn’t made it onto UK handsets yet – expect to see it (her?) on Windows Phones by the end of the year.
Email and Productivity Apps
For many email will be a main driver and Microsoft makes setting up accounts simple. I didn’t get the chance to try the 930 with an Exchange mailbox, but it handled multiple outlook.com, IMAP, Gmail and POP mailboxes with aplomb.
Windows Phone 8 also does some useful things around the concept of the unified inbox. Instead of a single inbox encompassing all configured accounts, individual email accounts can be grouped or ‘linked’ together. This makes it possible to combine work email addresses into one unified inbox and personal accounts into another, each accessible through its own live tile.
The bundled Bing News and Bing Sport apps are intuitive and well designed pulling news from a variety of credible sources. Fundamentally, for a news app to succeed it needs to leave me feeling as if I’ve caught up – these do exactly that, with style, and allow custom feeds too.
Microsoft Office connects you with documents stored on your OneDrive or Office 365 cloud as well as with email attachments. Excel, Powerpoint and Word are well executed apps, although losing what feels like two-thirds of the display to the over-sized on-screen keyboard is a shame.
Windows Phone UI
Microsoft’s spartan UI works hard to differentiate itself from its identikit competitors and, in general, it works well. However, for the sake of productivity I’d prefer to see more actual content on the screen.
A case in point is the official Twitter app – even with the smallest font I can see no more than three or four tweets per screen; similarly, the email app reveals up to six messages before scrolling. At 5 inches and 1920 vertical pixels there’s a lot of screen real estate on the Lumia but the important apps just don’t seem to fill enough of it.
Despite the ’80s-styling on the rear the Nokia Lumia 930 is Windows Phone’s most mature handset to date.
Its productivity credentials are top notch, and OS integration with Microsoft cloud apps and services mean it’s a capable business workhorse as well as a fun down-time device.
All the Windows Phone ecosystem needs now is more apps, and with high-quality handsets such as this they’ll be sure to follow.
Specs at a Glance:
- Screen: 5-inch AMOLED 1920 x 1080 Full HD
- Camera: ZEISS 20-MP PureView
- Chipset: Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 @ 2.2 GHz
- Memory: 2 GB
- Storage: 32 GB (no expansion)
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1
- Connectivity: LTE, HSPA+, GSM, WCDMA; NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 LE; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
From free with a £28.00/month contract, or £438.16 SIM-free. Details correct at time of publishing (July 2014).*
First published 22nd July 2014 in Computer Weekly. Articles, features and reviews are reproduced on this site by prior arrangement as samples of my work and remain the property of their respective publishers.
Written by David McClelland for o2.co.uk’s The Blue, find the original post here.
Mobile World Congress 2014 has been abuzz with talk of the $25 Firefox Phone, but just what is it and who will want one?
Many will know Mozilla Firefox as a popular and powerful open-source web browser for PC, Mac and Android smartphones.
With more of what we do every day taking place through the web — email, word processing and even gaming — it stands to reason that a web browser on its own might make a solid platform for an operating system. Just ask Google, whose Chromebook laptops run nothing more than the Google Chrome web browser yet accounted for 2 of the 3 best selling laptops at Amazon last Christmas and 20% of all notebooks sold in the US last year.
Firefox OS then is a fully-featured free operating system for mobile phones, tablets and even televisions complete with its own app store.
At Mobile World Congress this year there were several announcements from Mozilla, the not-for-profit organisation which develops Firefox, including availability of 7 new handsets running the Firefox OS.
At the moment the operating system is predominantly used in smartphones destined for developing markets such as India and Africa, seen as a potential upgrade path from the less-functional ‘feature phones’. Aside from the commercial lure for handset manufacturers to expand their business into countries not already saturated by smartphones, affordable devices such as those running Firefox OS can be enablers for individuals, providing easier access to online resources such as banking, learning and retail.
Among the new handsets announced this week is the ZTE Open II. A budget smartphone running the latest version 1.3 of Firefox OS it sports a 3.5-inch display, 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 2 megapixel camera and 256 MB of storage. Paltry specifications in comparison even to low end smartphones in maturer markets but, at the right price, it’s an affordable and attractive upgrade from a candy bar feature phone in many countries.
The so-called $25 Firefox Phone unveiled this week is another developing market device, although it won’t be available quite yet. Mozilla has, in collaboration with a mobile chipset supplier Spreadtrum, shown a prototype handset which it claims manufacturers will be able to build and retail for as little as $25. That’s right, just £15 for a smartphone.
Again, the specifications aren’t great — on your 15 quid phone you won’t even be able to download data over 3G networks, but as a relative experience it’s significantly better than the handsets they’re set to replace.
While it’s unlikely we’ll see a £15 Firefox Phone making a splash in the UK any time soon, other handsets running Firefox OS have been a hit closer to home, particularly in some Eastern European countries. And thanks to a partnership with Mozilla, Firefox OS is now set to power a new range of smart TVs from Panasonic Corporation — if only they could cost as little as £15… ^DM
First published 27th February 2014 on 02.co.uk. Articles, features and reviews are reproduced on this site by prior arrangement as samples of my work and remain the property of their respective publishers.
Picking up my pen once again for Computer Weekly’s Inspect-a-Gadget column I spend some quality time with BlackBerry’s brand new handset, the Q10.
The Q10 is the first BlackBerry device to feature a physical keyboard since the release of its new operating system and Z10 all-touchscreen smartphone earlier in 2013.
The familiar looking handset is a big deal for the recently renamed canadian tech firm, marking its first real foray back into its core corporate market since adopting BB10 as its strategic OS.
Head on over to Computer Weekly to read what I make of the BlackBerry Q10.
As exciting as it has been to watch iPhoneography become a hit as Apple’s smartphone platform has evolved, I’m delighted to see Androidography as a movement beginning to mature as well.
The good news is that CNET UK has recently published a feature of mine on Androidography.
How to take great photos with an HTC One X follows an in-handset workflow, shooting, editing and sharing your shots without stepping anywhere near a PC.
While the piece focuses on the HTC One X hardware there’s still a whole lot in there that will be useful to users of other Android handsets, for example the apps and the accessories sections, as well as the general shooting and editing tips.
The second of my How to Make HD Movies on your Smartphone features for CNET UK was published last week. This time I focused on videography for the Android platform and used the Samsung Galaxy S3 handset as an example.
My iPhone filmmaking feature has been receiving great interest and feedback online too; as always there’s so much more that I could have written about accessories and apps and the same is true for the Android version.
I’ll be writing more very soon on mobile journalism and smartphone videography so do keep checking back.
Earlier this month I was commissioned by CNET to write a couple of features on making high-def movies with a smartphone.
The first of those features, How to make HD movies on your iPhone 4 or 4S, went live yesterday and right now I’m working on an equivalent how to make movies feature for Android based on the Samsung Galaxy S3 – watch this space.
In my iPhone feature I mention recently launched service called Newsflare. As mobile journalism (‘MoJo’) is a particular interest of mine, I find the Newflare concept very interesting indeed. The Newsflare app lets you upload video footage from your iPhone, either on-spec or in response to an ‘assignment’, which Newsflare will then try to sell to a media outlet for you (obviously taking a cut of your cash for their troubles).
I haven’t submitted anything yet to Newsflare, but I’m certainly curious to give it a go. I’m not at all convinced that it poses a serious threat to professional video journalists and cameramen but I suspect it could lead to more of the ‘good enough’ shots of breaking new stories airing before professional news crews arrive to capture broadcast quality footage.
A shot in the arm for citizen journalism?