How (and how not) to activate a prepaid Smart Bro micro sim on the ipad

When I got my 3G iPad last year, there were no prepaid micro sims available yet at Globe or Smart so I went to one of the stalls in Theater Mall, Greenhills where they charged me P100 to cut up a standard Smart Buddy sim to micro sim size.

I discovered that Smart had this smart feature called Web Connect.

You register the sim online, fill up some info about yourself, assign a password, a TPIN (optional) and you were good to go. Web Connect allowed you to inquire about your sim balance, avail of promo packages, and get technical help when needed.

For several months, I was happy. I’d use the Pasaload feature to load up my iPad whenever i needed to go 3G. But when carriers began offering prepaid plans with unlimited surfing for a day, a week and a month, I realized that being charged P20/hour was getting costly, especially since I needed to be online whenever I was out of the house.

Mistake # 1 – Wrong Sim

When the Smart system detects that your sim is a Smart Buddy, you only see call/text promo packages on your Web Connect account! So all that time, I thought an ipad could never avail of unlimited surfing packages and had to be content with hourly rates. Yun pala, I had the wrong sim! It had to be Smart Bro!

So last week, off I went to Smart Wireless Center and purchased another sim, costing only P40. This time, I made sure it was a Smart Bro prepaid micro sim.

Mistake # 2 – Registering on Web Connect via Web

As I’m always wifi-connected at home, it was just natural for me to register on Web Connect while on my home network. Apparently, Smart’s system requires that you register by being on 3G AND using the iPad’s micro sim. Otherwise, your Smart Bro packages and other promos don’t show up on your account’s screen.

I learned this the hard way and had to communicate with @SmartCares (Smart’s Twitter account). They had to refresh my micro sim so I could register again.

I think I successfully activated my micro sim because last I checked, I could already see the Smart Bro packages for unlimited surfing options.

Just one last hirit (my suggestion) for Smart people.

The iPad has no texting function unlike a smartphone where you text a given format to subscribe to unlimited surfing. The way the Smart system is now, it appears that you need to first connect to Smart using your 3G connection (which means you get charged P10 just to connect). Then you choose an unlimited surfing option, say the P50 unlimited surfing for one day. So in effect, I get charged P60 instead of what should just have been P50 had I subscribed on a smartphone.

Can Smart please find a workaround so I can register for surfing options via wifi on Web Connect instead of spending P10 just to connect via 3G? Anyway, the account requires a password so no one else can enter the account and register for a surfing option and other packages.


Free Mac App: MacX iPad iPhone DVD Video Converter Pack

From April 20 to May 3, 2011, this $35 Mac app is FREE as an Easter giveaway.
Maybe you’re wondering if there’s a need for this since iTunes and QuickTimeX offer iOS export settings. But this application comes in handy for formats that both programs above may have a hard time recognizing. It’s a pretty nifty utility for converting video formats into those compatible with your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. 
The download gives you two free two-in-one programs:
DVD Ripper

Just load your DVD into the Mac, select your output format (iPad, iPhone, iPod, mp4, MOV or even Music) and click “Start” to begin conversion. EASY!

Video Converter
With this second application, you can likewise convert video files into the output formats as in DVD Ripper above, with the additional output format suitable for YouTube.

Note: Since this is being given away for free, the site says that no update or technical support is provided with this version.

To download this free dual pack, go to the link HERE and use the generated license code to register your app after download. Remember, you only have till May 3, 2011 to download this for free.


Royal Wedding Apps Flourish!

Prince William and Kate Middleton
(photo by Mario Testino)
The excitement over the upcoming royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton this April 29 has given birth to so many ‘royal’ apps – some free, some for a fee (yes, this is clearly business for some).
Even Buckingham Palace will be releasing today, April 18, its first “Royal App” by the Royal Collection. And it has a royal wedding website as well! Goes to show that the British monarchy is now adapting technology to help bring them closer to their loyal subjects. What a change from the distant, put-on-a-pedestal-to-be-admired-from-afar royal family of old.
In my other blog, Here’s To Life!, I wrote about why this royal wedding is particularly fascinating to me. And, since I own an iPad, I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the official app from Buckingham Palace. For starters, I’ve already got the FREE app, The Royal Wedding by Hello! on my iPad.
Here are some of the more interesting ones I’ve found (pls note that not all these apps may be available to Philippine users):
1. The Royal Wedding by Hello! (Hello Ltd), iPhone and iPad – So far, this is the best app I’ve seen. The UI is very clean and the info is almost comprehensive in nature.

2. Royal Wedding Video App (ITN), iPhone and Android – the video content is linked to ITN’s ‘Royal Wedding Channel’ on YouTube.
3. A Royal Wedding Celebration: William and Kate (Onteca), iOS Universal – also has impressive content on how the couple met to the guest list. There is an ‘iPad only’ version of the app but it is priced at $0.99.
1. Royal App (Royal Collection), iOS Universal and Android, expected to sell at £1.79 beginning April 18.

2. Royal Wedding Essential Guide (BlueYellow Media Ltd), iOS Universal, $0.99 – Has a wide range of content and features an interactive map using GPS showing locations relevant to the wedding. It has a lot of trivia about the couple as well as a Royal Personality Test to show which royal person has the same personality as you. Right now, this price is 50% off so I don’t know how long it will be on sale.

3. Royal Wedding Invite (Ryan Stevens), $0.99 – you have a “pretend” invite to the royal wedding.It used to be a free app but having seen its content on my iPad just now, I won’t spend to buy the app.
4. Royal Wedding – The Wills and Kate Story (Trinity Mirror Digital Media Ltd), iPhone and iPad, $1.99 – This is a hefty 183MB download because it contains video and audio narratives from James Whitaker, world’s foremost Royal Correspondent. 
One more thing, don’t fail to visit the official royal wedding site. CLICK HERE.

I have radio and TV on my iPad!

(Update: In a disappointing move, the latest update of Radio & TV Philippines deleted ANC from its list of TV streams without any explanations. I hope they bring this back because many of my friends bought the app precisely due to ANC content.)

I’ve had this app for some time now on my iPad and let me just say that this is one of the best $0.99 app purchases you can ever make if you’re in the Philippines or just want to have access to Philippine radio/TV.

It was initially launched as Radyo Natin, developed by Rowel Atienza, but it’s been recently changed to Radio and TV Philippines. It’s a universal app so it will work on your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
The app streams AM/FM radio stations (wifi and 3G) and select TV channels (wifi only) to your iPad. You can also get online Pinoy music stations, world news stations (like Voice of America) and over 100 Christmas stations on it as well. In case of an emergency I know I can always tune in to radio or TV even when out of the house, as long as I have internet connection.
This app works in multitasking or background mode so even if you switch to another app, it does not disrupt the streaming. It even plays the audio stream in sleep mode or when your screen locks. And when internet connection is interrupted, the app reconnects automatically when internet is restored.
What made this app have even more value for my money was when a recent version upgrade included the ABS-CBN news channel, ANC. I tune in often to ANC for news and to follow live Congress/Senate hearings. What is better than having this channel on the go?
You can download the app for $0.99 from your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad by going to the App Store.

Have You Kik’d Anyone Yet?

Got an Android, iOS or Blackberry smartphone? Then you need to check out Kik Messenger, the latest viral app that allows free texting crossing all 3 platforms.
It’s FREE. It’s pretty fast (real-time). And it’s VIRAL! 
According to the Kik blog, they launched Oct. 19, 2010 with 0 users and hit 1 million in just 15 days. If that’s not viral, I don’t know what is!
I downloaded it just tonight after reading a Tech Crunch article about it being viral. Then I posted notices on my Plurk and Facebook accounts. In just a few hours, several of my friends and family have already joined my network. Here’s what the screen looks like.
(Source: Kik Blog)
I also got to text back and forth with friends using all 3 platforms and it works. Beautifully! The user interface is very simple and a new feature it has that was not present in Ping Chat which I used to use (only good among iPhone users) is that it has 3 icons that change status beside each of your posts. S = Sending. D = Delivered. R = Read. Woot!
To download Kik from your smartphone, click HERE.
Congrats to the entire Kik team. I really hope you guys can sustain the amazing exponential growth and keep downtime or lag to the barest minimum.
As for me, if Kik works as they tout it, this might just be my solution to this carrier that did away with their unlimited text promo for Christmas and New Year. Cheers!
The Kik Team celebrating the 1M crossover
(Source: Kik Blog)

Social: Facebook App for the iPad

(UPDATE: This app has been taken off the App Store already.)

One beef that I have with Facebook up to this time is that it does not have a version for the iPad. While Twitter and my other social networks and blogging platforms have already come up with tablet versions, Facebook seems to be taking its sweet time.

Since moving to the iPad, I have been making do with the iPod Touch version I used to have. So imagine holding the iPad but seeing a teeny tiny iPod Touch screen. Really frustrating.

Well, tonight I made a great discovery after searching the App Store. Social does well (actually, very well so far) as an almost native Facebook app. There is a similar Facebook alternative app called Friendly but from forums I saw, more people prefer Social.

Social has beautifully incorporated most of what I need to do on Facebook. Macworld’s article describing it enumerates several things you can do with Social:

• Add friends, groups and pages to your favorites for quick and easy access • Post new messages • Send private messages • Upload pictures and create new albums • Create groups, events and pages • Easily search through your friends, groups and pages • Browse the full Facebook page, but customized to the iPad touch-screen

And those are not all. I discovered to my delight that I could actually change the privacy settings of each message I posted just like in the real Facebook application. I could comment, LIKE on my friends’ posts.  And to refresh the page, the downward swipe action works!!!

Here are some screenshots I took off the Macworld page (I tried taking my own pics but the shots came out bad). You’ll find that pretty much what you could do on Facebook, you could do with Social.

And here’s a great motivation to get the app right now. It retails for almost $3 but at this very moment, it is being offered at 66% off as a special fall sale — but only for a limited time. In fact, Macworld isn’t updated yet and its site says the app is only being offered at 33% off or $1.99. 
So, download Social app now for only $0.99 (remember, it’s only for a limited time)!