DSTV mobile application upgraded from Beta to final.

Posted on June 26, 2012

DSTV mobile application upgraded from Beta to final. No real obvious changes in the release notes except for the statement below :
*** If you device is running Android 2.1 (Eclair) or your device has a processor slower than 800Mhz, please use the “DStv Mobile Decoder Eclair” version.

Same list of devices supported.

Link to the final application here : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.valups.tivit.app.finaldstv

More Android love from DSTVmobile. 19 more devices. Well done DSTVmobile!

Posted on June 02, 2012

Another update has been made of the Beta android application for the Drifta. You can get it here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dstvmobile.app.decoder

This application now works on a wide range of Android devices running on Android 2.2, 2.3, 3.x and 4.x (with hardware buttons). So Gingerbread, Honeycomb and IcecreamSandwich are all supported now.

The full list is below. With the extent of changes I have been a bit lazy to pull out only the new devices. On the tweet announcing this @neilinspace indicated that 19 more have been added from the last version of the Beta, I will take his word for it. The list is now quite impressive, most device owners should be happy, including those lucky enough to have picked up the new Galaxy SIII or one of the new HTC One devices.

Well done DSTVmobile!

Now please can we get some Blackberry love? I know the platform is dying but I really would like some support on the Bold 9900.

Click through for the Full list:

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Major update of DSTV Android client (30 new devices)

Posted on May 25, 2012

Without much fanfare DTSV Mobile have snuck out a “beta” release of their Drifta client software for Android devices. This is a mammoth release (compared to prior ones) and now supports an extra 30 odd devices covering a number of different manufacturers including :

  • Sony (XPeria Range – X10, Play, Ray, Active, Pro, S, Arc, Neo, Pro)
  • LG (Otimus range, Prada, Tablet)
  • Motorola (MB860, Atrix, RAZR)
  • Vantium (V1)
  • Huawei (Ideos X5, U8800)
  • HTC (Flyer and Sensation)

There are also a couple of extras on the Honeycomb and Standard release, nothing major though.

Check out the full supported device listing in the FAQ : j-j.co.za/gofaq on supported devices. Don’t forget that rooted devices can be made to work using OTA Rootkeeper.

Thanks to DSTV Product Development manager @neilinspace for tweeting about the update, even though I did miss it for a week or two :)


Last chance to get your Cell C 3G prepaid bundle at a good price

Posted on October 12, 2011

When Cell C launched their 3G network last year they had some awesome “launch specials” the best 2 of which I considered to be the 2 gig and 5 gig specials. As a reminder, you pay either R1000 or R2000 upfront and then get either 2 gig a month or 5 gig a month, every month for the next year.

I purchased a 2 gig sim for my laptop last year, it expires this month. I have also put one into an Android phone, and into my iPad. Do the maths, that’s 6 gig of mobile data across 3 devices for about R250 per month. No other service provider comes close (yes 8ta does have their contract option R199 a month for 10 gig a month, also a great deal, just can’t split that easily over my devices). I have recommended this Cell C deal to friends, family and the like over the last year and all have been delighted.

Those introductory special offers now come to and end in the next few days, the price goes up significantly as at the 1 November, but the current deals won’t be available after the weekend. So look air it carefully, if your current sim expires in the next month or 3, it will be worth getting another now, or if you are in the market for a new data hungry device (tablet, iPhone, android device) do yourself a favor and get one now.

Once you have made the decision don’t forget your Rica documents and then be prepared to have a little patience, these babies are hard to find. Phone a few Cell C shops and track them down.

Yesterday I spent an hour in the Cell C shop in Carlton, they were so helpful. They had one left in stock, did the sim swap to microsim for the iPad for free, and hunted down a second one. They phoned about five or six other shops to find it, and then did a sim swap from that shop to theirnso I wouldn’t have to go anywhere else, this was customer service above and beyond, they delighted me and deserve much credit for doing good for their brand.

Good luck in hunting down your deals, it is worth it and you won’t be sorry. If you get some spotty cell c coverage, just remember what you would be paying for that same data on Vodacom or MTN, and remember they have their fair share of problems.

New Android manufacturers and devices supported on Drifta

Posted on October 05, 2011

DStv Mobile have announced that some new devices are supported by their Android client, interestingly enough, this covers 2 previously unsupported manufacturers in LG and Motorola. Hopefully this is the start of something. Here is the list of new devices:

  • LG Optimus Black (LG P970)
  • Motorola Defy (MB 525)
  • HTC ChaCha
  • HTC Desire HD
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab (7″ All models including GT-P1000, GT-P1010)
Download it from the Android Store here.

Running the standard Android Drifta app on non-standard phones

Posted on September 27, 2011

Before the hacked version of the DStv mobile application surfaced people were looking for ways to get the standard application to work on devices other than those supported, as well as on rooted devices. That playing around stopped with the hacked version. Now that DStv has taken to asserting their copyrights to the application a lot of people have not been able to get hold of the hacked application. The same outcome can be achieved without needing to infringe DStv’s copyright. Below is the short and more detailed version of this :

  • If your device is not supported, you can change your device’s identity so that it looks like a supported device.
  • If your device is rooted, you can temporarily unroot it using OTA Rootkeeper.

That’s it. Simple, yes?

Below is Johan’s feedback and instructions (edited a little with links added to make your lives easier).

Read the rest of this entry »

Designed to fail – when things that should work just don’t #dstvmobile #fail #android

Posted on September 21, 2011

In some ways this could be considered a followup post to the one I did last week on “A week with the DStv mobile Android application, the good and the bad” (link here).

Let’s start with the purpose of the DStv service, the Drifta and the supporting applications. At it’s most basic level, the purpose is to let us (the consumer) watch tv, and to let DStv earn revenue from providing us with that service.

Our obligation is to pay the initial fee for the device, and to pay the monthly service fee. DStv’s obligation is to provide a working service that allows us to watch the broadcast when we choose to do so, in the advertised areas of coverage, on the advertised devices.

This morning, that service failed me. How? Well, I have my paid for Drifta, have paid my monthly subs, and have the DStv mobile application loaded on a legitimate (non rooted, supported) device.

I turned on the Drifta, it connected to the DVB-H signal. I turned on my HTC Desire, connected to the Internet, loaded up the application. Up came the “authenticating” message, which then stayed on screen for a while before a message came up to the effect that the authentication server was unavailable, please try again later.

I tried many times over the next few minutes, each time with the same result. All the while the game I was wanting to watch was carrying on, without me watching. In frustration I tweeted out “Aargh. Drifta has DVB-H signal and is connected. HTC desire says Unable to reach authentication server try in few minutes. #norugby #fail“.

A colleague has an iPhone, which also has the application loaded on it. He came over to my desk and we tried to connect it to my Drifta. It first tried to connect to the last Drifta it had been used with, when that didn’t work it did a re-scan and connected to mine. It worked. First time, no problem, and the game came up. I got to see around five minutes for the second half before he needed to leave, and sent out a second tweet “Any Android users managing to watch Drifta? Authentication server wl.dstvmobile.com seems to be down. Working fine on colleagues iphone :(“

I received a reply shortly after “@jjza The Android Auth server ISP is experiencing connectivity issues. Techs working on the problem. Will keep you updated. #Drifta. Replied “thanks Neil. Not happy but appreciate the feedback.” and two hours later received the update “@jjza #Drifta #Android Auth server connection should be back up. Please try again.” An hour later I tried again, it worked, and I replied to that effect.

Fine, it was working again, but I had missed the game. DStv had failed to deliver the service I was paying for. #fail

I am unhappy with this situation. Not because DStv messed up and didn’t provide the service. We all mess up from time to time and nobody can expect 100% perfect service. However, why should it work on one device and not another. There is no mention of this in any of the advertising or product documentation.

In introducing the Android application, DStv mobile have, by design, introduced an added level of complexity, and an additional point of failure, which can (and does) seem to fail often. Why is it that an iPhone can use the service without needing to authenticate (every time) to the DStv servers yet Android cannot have this same luxury. What possible reason is there for punishing Android users in this manner?

The only reason given is that the application is authorised (by DStv mobile) to work on certain Android devices (and not others – the logic behind that we will leave for another time). So whenever we load the application it checks to see whether it is “allowed” to use the application. This seems like a reasonable step, but is it really?

The idea behind this was to allow DStv to control the Android devices on which the application will work, and allow additional devices to be added without needing to release a new version of the application each time. The authentication information is anonymous, so of course it is not being collected and being used for any purposed other than authentication (such as usage statistics, device usage patterns etc) as that would be unethical, and quite possibly in terms of the upcoming Protection of Personal Information Act would be illegal too.

One can safely assume also that if a device is added to the “white list” of supported devices that it would then be allowed to used on that device and that privilege would not be revoked.

Surely then this authentication could be a one-off process. You download the app from the store, it is a “virgin app”. It phones home, sends through the device (not user, network, location and other) details, confirms it is allowed to work, and then is permanently activated. If the device is not on the white list, and error message can be displayed and the software remain inactive. The user can then try again in a week or two. If the application was really smart, it could then even do a push notification when the device was finally whitelisted, but let us not over complicate the situation.

So what would the benefits of this be?

  • Activation would be one-off
  • No internet connection would be needed every time you wanted to load the application
  • No dependency would be created on an ISP to make sure the authentication server is up
  • No dependency would be created on the cellular service provider to make sure their service is working
  • You would not have to check both the DStv and Cell provider websites for coverage to see whether you can use your device
  • No nagging suspicion would  be created that just maybe DStv are collecting more information than they say, more often than they say
  • I would have been able to watch the game

Let me repeat that last line, I would have been able to watch the game that I paid to watch.

So the ISP let DStv down. What was their Business Continuity Plan to make sure that this newly introduced (just for Android users) point of failure had redundant controls? There are so many more questions that could be asked here, the answers of which could affect whether their product offering complies with the Consumer Protection Act. Instead let us just ask, what is the solution.

In my mind, it is quite simple. Fix the application. Allow the authentication to be one-off (monthly if you must). And while you are at it, remove the Drifta BIOS update from the application, we don’t have to carry that around on the phone with us all the time, space is precious, and a bloated application double the necessary size is not welcome.

DStv, I really like the idea of the service, I recommend it to lots of people, in person and on twitter. I am an evangelist for your product, but I am also honest and a realist. Your Android application sucks, but is easily fixable. I can no longer recommend to anyone that they purchase your service to use on an Android device, you have designed it to fail. Please fix that so I can enjoy the product as it should work, and let your customers get the service they pay for (or would pay for).

A week with the DStv mobile Android application, the good and the bad

Posted on September 15, 2011

I gave now spent just over a week with the DStv mobile application, had some time to play with it and get my thoughts together around it.

Firstly, I am very grateful to have the application. After more than 5 months of waiting (impatiently) I was starting to lose hope. On reflection, it is sad that I am grateful to an organisation for providing me with a service which I paid for, and was paying for while it wasn’t being delivered. Still, I do like to be able to watch the sports channels while on the move.

There are some good and bad points. Let me start with the bad.

  1. The application is huge. The largest application I have installed on my phone at almost 20 Meg. My phone (HTC Desire) has limited memory, so in order to install the DStv mobile application I had to uninstall Google Plus, the Google Maps updates, Facebook updates and the 360 Panorama tool. That really burns, I have now lost a whole lot of functionality on my phone to have this application. After some poking around I discovered that the entire Drifta update ROM/BIOS is stored in the application, and this takes up more than half of the space. Whoever came up with that idea was clearly not thinking straight. It is a one-off upgrade  I would happily have done via my PC now I have to give up so much Android space and functionality (10 Meg).
  2. The application doesn’t allow itself to be move to the SD card, or for any part of it to be moved (as App2SD and similar tools do).  I am not sure what changes need to be made to the app to let it move to SD, but do it guys. Either that or remove the Drifta BIOS from the application. If 15 Meg of that 20 Meg could be stored on the SD card I would be smiling.
  3. It works on very limited devices still. I include this one because of all of the complaints I receive daily, not because it affects me anymore.
  4. The application authenticates to the server EVERY TIME you load it. What a pain. Sometimes I have perfect DVB-H (Drifta) signal but lose Cell phone signal (one client I work at has really really bad Cell C signal) and then I can’t watch the mobile TV. Throw the device over the desk divider to a mate with an iPhone and he seems to be able to use it just fine, no authentication. Why the discrimination against Android users? I don’t know. This again seems to be a badly thought out ploy. Let the thing authenticate weekly or monthly if need be, but please for the sake of all things good cut out this nonsense of having to start from scratch every time. Not only that, but when I bought the device it was made clear that NO internet connection was needed to use it. To introduce these unnecessary additional steps at this late stage of the game is really unacceptable. It would probably fall foul of the Consumer Protection Act if I hadn’t bought it in December last year.
  5. The application is unstable! How unstable? Well during the USA vs Russia game this morning it crashed twice and on a third occasion rebooted my phone. That really isn’t good enough. The game was tight so I didn’t miss any key scoring moments, but still. It could have been a minute or two downtime at a crucial moment.
  6. Ok this is a repeat (in a way) of point 4. Every time I load the application I have to first make sure wi-fi is off (otherwise it automatically connects to the Drifta) or the Drifta is off (so it can’t connect). Then load the application, let it authenticate to the internet (if available) and then go into system settings to turn wi-fi back on again, then click re-scan, then let it connect. When the application is quit, it switches wi-fi off regardless of whether wi-fi was on or off before the application was started. I find this whole process cumbersome and painful, needing to switch backward and forward between the system settings and the application just to get it to work.
  7. The picture isn’t full screen, it puts some bars down the sides. Sure this keeps the aspect ratio correct, but there could have been an optional zoom to fill the screen.
  8. There is conflicting information as to whether the anonymous authentication is really anonymous or not depending on who I speak to (this is still to be cleared up). My view, collecting / sending unique information back to the server while displaying a message saying it is an anonymous authentication is dishonest, bad business practice and potentially will be illegal when the Protection of Personal Information Bill is promulgated, and is probably also falling foul of the Consumer Protection Act.  (I am not a lawyer, so I cannot give anything but an informed lay man’s view on that).

Enough griping, now for the good.

  1. The application works (mostly)
  2. I get to watch mobile tv on the move as I should have been able to since the start (when I have Cell phone signal)
  3. The interface is easy to use and the picture quality is nice on the small screen
  4. I am getting to see some of the Rugby World Cup I wouldn’t have otherwise
  5. Coverage is fairly good and stable. This morning I drove from home (Dawncliffe, Westville) to the office (La Lucia Ridge past gateway) and there was no signal drop on the entire trip. I was listening rather than watching so can’t be sure picture didn’t freeze but audio was stable. The application crashed when I drove into the parking lot, but otherwise was all good. (Added 16/9/2011 based on a Twitter question posed by @Mateewis)
  6. The subscription is relatively cheap (R36/month)

In conclusion, I am very happy to have the application and be able to watch some of the Rugby World Cup, but the size of it, the lack of stability and the ridiculous authentication system is significantly dampening my enthusiasm for it. 

Please share your thoughts and experiences, I am particularly interested in hearing the views of people who have used both the iPhone and Android applications.

Android Drifta app 1.1.19 updates Drifta firmware to 2.1.312

Posted on September 09, 2011

Out of interest, the launch application for Android (1.1.19) requires an update to the Drifta firmware.

Unpacking the .APK file and extracting the firmware binary shows the version as Tivit(DVB-H) 2.1.312 2011/06/23-19:41:55

Information has been added to the FAQ.

The OFFICIAL DStv Drifta app now compatible with many more Android Devices

Posted on September 09, 2011

Update 2 : Confirmed for 3 HTC devices, the Desire, Desire HD and Wildfire S.

Other devices appear to be able to download but not run the application.

Update : The app downloads and install but fails the whitelist authentication test. I hope DStv fixes that this morning otherwise I see many of us going with the unofficial application (see here)

As of this morning, despite the Android Market place description of the software saying otherwise, the official DStv Drifta app from the marketplace is now compatible with a number of new devices.

Currently the following are confirmed :

  • Sony Ericsson X10
  • HTC Desire
Please add more compatible devices in the comments once you get yours working.

The DSTV Drifta application for Android has already been hacked to work on “non supported” devices

Posted on September 08, 2011

Update (9/9/2011) : As of this morning many more devices are supported. The application description still only lists the initial Galaxy devices but if you have an HTC, Sony Ericsson (and maybe others) the Market Place now shows up the app for your phone whereas before it was listed as incompatible. Try the official application before any of the hacked ones!!

For those who are still desperate:

There have been a number of posts around the net with users expressing their annoyance and dismay at the limited number of Android devices that are supported by DStv mobile.

It didn’t take long for users to start making their phones look like a Samsung Galaxy S to get the software to run, which worked quite well but required some modification of the phone (rooting it and changing property files).

Some kind soul (anonymously known as PeterJoe) then hacked the install file to allow it to run on rooted devices as well as fake the check to make it work on any phone (posted to MyBroadband.co.za).  This doesn’t work on every device but many are supported. Sadly the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 doesn’t seem to be one of them.

See how to do this in the FAQ : http://j-j.co.za/faq/getting-the-drifta-software-to-work-on-unsupported-devices/

Enjoy the World Cup.

HTC and Drifta, a few tweeted tidbits

Posted on September 07, 2011

With DStv Mobile having released the Android app for some Samsung Galaxy devices it looks as though HTC are feeling rather left out and wanting to get their share of the action. Some interesting tweets today.

First up was @Regardt van der Berg, “I do PR, Communications, and Social Media for HTC and I’m a lazy photographer” from http://www.htcblog.co.za  commenting that support is coming to HTC soon and they are working with the Devs to get the app approved on HTC.

Nico @Zandberg picked up that the screenshots present on the Android App Store are actually taken from an HTC and not a Samsung.  Mybroadband picked up on the press release mailed out by DStv mobile and put up a story.

I contacted Regardt and put some questions to him, which were partially answered with a non-committal “We are working with Multichoice” but an offer to correspond further by email, which I took him up on and sent a mail asking a few questions.

Will feed back when I get a response. An interesting day for HTC users none-the-less.

NB : The tweets below were collated together using editor software, but can be validated back to Twitter.


Drifta for Android is here, now, ahead of the World Cup, for Galaxy S, SII and Tab P1000

Posted on September 06, 2011

DStv have delivered on the hopes of many and delivered their Android client for a small range of popular Android devices. Those lucky enough to have a Samsung Galaxy S, SII or the P1000 Tablet are going to have the pleasure of watching the World Cup on their devices. Thanks to David for the heads up this morning. David has downloaded it already and says it works beautifully.

Well done DStv Mobile!

The software is 28M in size which places it on the larger end of applications, not yet sure whether the majority of the application can be moved over to the SD card. It runs on Android 1.6 and up, which should cover all incantations of the supported devices and gives hope for many more devices being rolled out soon. As expected it will NOT run on rooted devices.

The reviews on the market place are very divided. Those who have compatible devices are giving it 4’s and 5’s, those who have devices on which it doesn’t work are pretty scathing.

The good :

  • Well done and in time for the rwc. (Kobus, 4 stars)
  • Its way over due. Lets c if it works bt heck im really happy … Its way over due. Lets c if it works bt heck im really happy that it came b4 the RWC. (Bafana, 5 stars)
  • Good app, pity it needs internet authentication to run (Corsa, 4 stars)
The so so :
  • Size .. The size of the app is huge (Danzel, 3 stars)
  • Unable to authenticate the mobile device?!?!?!? I’m using a Samsung Galaxy S 2!!!! (Danie, 3 stars)

The bad:

  • Samsung only devices… What a joke! We have waited over 6 months for this Android App only for it to be available for 3, yes, THREE Android devices. This is a complete and utter joke! (Nick, 1 star)
  • Why Samsung only? Can’t dstv do anything properly? Luckily I saw this before giving … Why Samsung only? Can’t dstv do anything properly? Luckily I saw this before giving more hard earned money to multichoice. Pathetic IMO. (Anonymous, 1 star)
  • Root .. Non rooted phones (Alru, 1 star)

I can understand the frustrations but having spoken in detail with the DStv guys, know where they are coming from too. Read some more about that over here (A most interesting hour with the DStv mobile team).

Read the rest of this entry »

A (most interesting) hour with the DStv Mobile team

Posted on September 01, 2011

This afternoon (31/8/2011) I had the pleasure of spending an hour with the DStv mobile team. Thanks to Maiyo for setting it up and to Bradley and Neil for giving freely of your time.

The DStv mobile product is a fairly simple one. There are the two hardware devices (the Drifta and USB Drifta). The USB Drifta is the simpler one to deal with as it works only with PC’s. There is client software for Windows and as a pleasant surprise, software for Mac is under development and at a fairly advanced stage. No mention of release dates, after the previous debacle around late releases the team is hyper-sensitive to this issue and would clearly rather under-promise and over-deliver, can’t blame them for that one.

Neil spoke a little around the development life cycle, and how the windows client was developed first, then the iPad version, and now the Mac. The Mac version takes the best user interface elements of the previous ones and builds on that. At a later stage the Windows version will be updated to bring this new user interface to us. Although it doesn’t change the fundamental product it is a nice touch. I asked around PVR type functionality which is hinted at in the Drifta BIOS. Sadly this isn’t allowed in the content license agreements.

I got to play with an android tab and phone version of the Drifta clients for a short while. They work as expected, touch interface and look good. Still testing to do and kinks to work out, but they are coming.

I put my three phones (a Blackberry, Nokia and Andoid device) on the table and asked the big question. What happened, the delays, the promises, the angry community, the inadequate response. When are we getting the promised clients.

The team was honest, embarrassed and clearly hurt by what had happened. They missed the deadlines, and badly. They pissed off their customers and are well aware of it and trying hard to avoid repeating the situation. I think this has led to the huge lack of information around current state. They are very scared of creating any further expectations that can’t be met, even if those are through customers misinterpreting what has been said.

Before, we were told that there would be client software for Android, Nokia and Blackberry. That is a very wide statement to make (and was a mistake). There are just too many classes of devices in each of those camps, and by not being more specific false expectations were created. The delays have also led to devices which were mainstream being largely out of the picture and having to work towards moving goalposts. In the Android arena there have been a plethora of devices and OS versions. None of this has made things easy.

That said, they have been working hard to try to bring the client to these devices. They want it out there, it opens up the market hugely and can only be in their interests.

We spoke mostly about Android and Blackberry. Nokia (Symbian) was mentioned more in passing. Nokia has all but abandoned Symbian and moved on to Windows Mobile 7. It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for DStv to be investing a lot of effort in a dying platform. By the time they got it out and stable most people would have moved on from the platform.

I asked around compatibility of the clients with handsets. There are minimum requirements. In the Blackberry arena the software was tested on the Curve and Bold platforms. Changes in the OS have caused compatibility problems with some of the newer devices that still has to be worked out. The very popular 8520 (baby Blackberry) only has a slower processor and lower resolution screen is unlikely to work with the software. If when released the software runs on the Curve, Bold and Torch then it will cover most of the newer devices. I hope not too many 8520 users will be disappointed, but it was to be expected.

The Android front is a whole lot more complicated. As with the iPhone, they are concerned about rooted devices and those with video out. Licensing doesn’t allow the signal to be output unrestricted to big screens. This is a mobile service. This means as with iPhone if you have a rooted (jailbroken) device / custom rom you may not be able to use the software. We didn’t go into detail about how this will be enforced, but as with the iPhone environment, I am sure there will be hacked software soon enough.

Given the vast number of devices, and that a lot of the newer cheaper devices are having smaller screens and weaker processors, it will not be possible for the client to run on every Android device out there. If we had to wait for that level of compatibility we would never see the application.

The software will be available through the Android market place. DStv plan to make use of a device whitelisting system, when a user launches the application it will check with the white listing server to see if the device is compatible.  It will initially be available for a handful of Samsung devices (Samsung were kind enough to give DStv significant support in debugging issues), and then additional devices and suppliers will be added to the list as testing and development increases the scope of compatibility. This is sure to disappoint some users out there (myself included as an HTC user) but just seeing the application out there and in use will be a really good start. Once that list of supported devices grows we will get even happier.

The release date for Blackberry I won’t hazard a guess at, and given the discussion around it I didn’t ask. No point raising those expectations again until there is something to see.

The Android application is not far off. We have heard vague and non-committal dates being thrown around after all those missed deadlines (and I explained above why they are so sensitive). A target date was mentioned to me, which I have agreed not to disclose. If they manage to hit that date, a few of the Samsung Android users (on the whitelist) will have an early Christmas present and be smiling. From the conversation, I am confident that as a HTC user I will also be able to use my Drifta as was intended within a reasonable timeframe.

We spoke also a little around technical support, and it was mentioned that DStv mobile are looking to enhance their online experience for customers to improve support. Improvements are always  good thing.

In terms of improvements to software, full screen and jailbroken iDevices isn’t allowed with licensing so we moved onto other ideas. A Drifta with a LCD screen may be a bit expensive, so how about putting a headphone jack on it and letting it be used as a digital radio. May not be much use for some of the channels, but for sport and music this would be great. Often the game isn’t on radio and listening to it on the Drifta could fill that gap. I asked also about an audio only client for lower specced devices that wouldn’t be able to display the pictue (that 8520 and some lower class Android devices come to mind). While these are nice ideas none can really be implemented short-term (my thought, not theirs) as the focus is on delivering the promised client applications first.

Ideas for improvements for the PC software:

  • Searchable programme guide
  • Reminders for upcoming shows
  • Ability to pause (to get that beer from the fridge while not missing the game, or to take an important call)
  • Setting (off by default) the call on startup of the app that currently checks if you have elected to participate in the useage monitoring programme (I personally take offense to having my uniquely identifiable information sent to the central server without permission – but then I did sign up for the programme when it was explained to me)
  • Setting (off by default) as to whether the software should check for updates (mobile data can be expensive)

I was asked my impression of the programming, I mainly watch sports and the news channels. I am fine with the allocation. The “cut down” mobile versions of channels was mentioned and Maiyo pointed out to me that for Cartoon Network they have quietly replaced the gimped one with the linear direct-to-home DStv version (the full version). I missed that along the way, big up to DStv for listening to their clients and sorting that out. I think they could have made a bit of a bigger deal about that and taken more credit for it. E! Entertainment continues to play a block of content that is repeated periodically.  Mnet Series is largely the same as the DTH channel, where licences have not been granted for certain programming, substitute programming will be scheduled.

The recurring theme through the discussions was how to communicate better with the customers, providing more transparency and information, while managing expectations to try to avoid consumer rage. We bounced around some ideas, and I hope that will lead to more information being made available, at a minimum details of what older devices/platforms will definitely NOT be supported, and possibly even minimum technical specifications (per platform) of what would be required in order to at least have a chance of the client working. Consumers would need to be careful not to misinterpret such information as a promise to have it working on those platforms. Still, this would help significantly in making decisions for next handsets.  I mentioned how frustrated I was having been through two phone upgrades between January and June and having no information on which to base a decision. They get this, just need work out how to sensibly release such information.

I was asked around the volume of traffic to this site. For those interested it is currently between 300 and 500 article impressions a day, and about 70% of that traffic relates DStv mobile, the next largest are those looking for details on Cellular service providers’ (Vodacom) compliance (or not as the case may be) with the Consumer Protection Act. Is running the site a full-time job? No, I have a real job. The advertising here brings in around R180/month currently, with that split between revenue for views and for clicks. A click pays anything from 40c to R12 (averaging R3.57), and advert views range from 0c (yes zero) to around 24c/thousand views. All that is highly variable and not enough to even buy me an iPad.

Finally we spoke around me getting added to the media list for press releases so I can keep the information on the site and updated, and possibly getting information just ahead of product and client releases so I can help spread the word and provide support to you, the community.

A very positive meeting, and I think DStv mobile, Maiyo, Bradley and Neil for inviting me to your offices, giving freely of your time and trusting me enough to show me what you are working so hard at delivering. I look forward to further interactions, and a growing community as you roll out the next versions of your client software and products.

If you have questions you would like answered let me know and I will see if I can get answers from Maiyo.

Disclaimer : DStv Mobile have not edited or unduly influenced this article in any way. The team was kind enough to show me a lot of what they are doing and give me honest answers to a lot of questions. In the vein of under promise and over deliver they did ask me not to reveal certain information. Out of respect to them I did send them a pre-release version of this article and on request some minor amendments were made (by me) to avoid creating unrealistic expectations. If this does happen, blame me for over enthusiasm and not the DStv mobile team :) 

P.S. After the fact I did post two additional questions to Maiyo. During the discussion we spoke briefly about Windows Mobile 7, however I did not explicitly ask if they were going to be developing for this platform. I asked for clarification on this. We also spoke a bit around what the minimum specifications might be for supported devices (across Nokia, Android, Blackberry) and whether these could be released. Not so much as to tell you your device would be supported, but so that you could know which devices just definitely wouldn’t make the grade. Useful when buying your next phone. They had not explicitly documented these specs, and they could also vary per platform. I have asked if this information could be documented and shared. The team was a little reluctant as they were concerned people may misinterpret this as an undertaking to develop for ALL devices which met these specifications, which clearly is unrealistic. I have asked if they might share these minimum specs, subject  to proviso’s sure, but some information is better than none. Will keep you posted.

Update : The Android version has now been released, read more here

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