Should I Use KnowRoaming International Mobile Review

Know Roaming Review – Should I Use KnowRoaming Mobile 

Xknowroaming review 750x422 jpg pagespeed ic Hekhny1V49

In one word, NO.

But let me explain why we think the reviews we have read online don’t live up to our experience. 

Firstly, as someone who professionally travels the entire globe and who is a techno geek, data is one of the most important travel tools these days. To look up and book all sorts of things form AirBnB to Uber,, Google Maps and just staying in contact with loved ones.

Getting Data is really still a huge hassle after all these years. Blackberry had the right idea to provide unlimited global packages for their devices world wide, and I personally cannot wait for Elon Must to get his 4,425 satellites up and running giving global coverage of low orbit satellite based data services. I am surprised that Apple or Google etc have not jumped in and lined up the telcos who are still busy ripping people for global data. They will end up wishing they had global alliances once something else comes online. Anyway I digress.

KnowRoaming has a good idea. They tap into the alliance of roughly 50-60  normal countries that appear to be able to operate in the real world and have some reasonable deals. The countries are sort of the ones you would expect. Basically if the telcos operate in a fair and less regulated environment (read western civilised countries) then they are likely on the list. If the countries government or royal highness owns the telcos or chops the hands of thieves off, then they are probably not on the list. (Read 1/2 the world that operates in dictator chaos).

Among the plans is the All You can Eat $7.99 per day for unlimited data. This was particularly appealing to me as I am often in countries for a short period of time.

Mobile Sticker for Roaming

The device I took was the sticker that you put easily on your sim card that gives your extra function while away form your normal carrier. No problems with the sticker and applying it.

The KnowRoaming App and Service

The issues I have are with the KnowRoaming App. The app controls the management of data access while in other countries. The idea is that you power it up while in the roaming countries and select the plan you wish to use. The failures of the app are this.

1. Unintuitive not user Friendly. – The app needs to install profiles on the iPhone to set up local data access. This part I can handle. Installing profiles are like installing certificates on a phone. A little odd at first, but once you get the idea of it, then not to bad. But the really unfriendly part is that you activate data on the home screen, but the app then needs to download the local roaming profiles to get the plans available locally. At times the connection download rate to get this data is so bad that the app does not find the data you need. Then you are left with an activated connecting that is using your data at a huge rate, and charing you normal crappy connection rates because you have not activated the daily plan. On more than one occasion I used all my credit before I could get a daily rate activated.

Other times I activated the daily plan, only to instantly loose the connection for a period of time. Then to find out that the activation did not take and I was again using all my credit when connection returned.

2. Reliability – Very poor at best. Because of this switching of profiles and presumably the providers of choice in the countries being forced for connection on once activated. I often found I was in a location like an airport with great reception. As soon as I activated the mobile data in the KnowRoaming app, and turned the Roaming Data on in the phone settings, I lost my connection all together to the telcos. No signal. Frustrating as hell when you need to get something done.

3. Data Priority – As you would expect with data roaming services, the telcos in the country you are traveling will give you low priority on their networks for data. This is understandable and even though the services are 3G only and you are most likely connecting to 4 G capable networks, I did find that at peak times (like the time of day you would book an Uber, Taxi, Hotel or AirBnB.) The series is so slow that you can’t get anything done at all. Ping tests 100 times slower than normal connection. Can’t even get to a google home page. Totally useless.

4. Average support – While contacting support gets you reasonably quick responses via email. You do need to have data to get email. What’s APP is free data, which leads the question. Why not enable free data for their APP and offer in app communications. As it stands you need the App to work to get support on getting the App to work. Crazy right!

Support

On the two occasions that I contact support advising that my entire balance had been eaten up in a manner of minutes. I was once refunded the money when I advised that I was a new customer and just did not get the interface for the app to activate the daily plans. And in this I will restate that the App really is not user friendly at all. They really need to force choice options on you as you activate to say… hey use all your credit in minutes or using one of the normal persons options to roam all day. 

The other time I experienced the “There Goes All yYour Credit” in a few minutes issue. Was as a result of the loss of connection then subsequent re-connection unbeknown to me a short time later. So my phone sat doing what my phone does, downloading email etc. All the time I believed I had no connection and was waiting to get WiFI access to sort out why I had no carrier signal after activating data.

I contact support with this second credit suck, and they pretty much said.. “Yep there goes your money, here is how to top up again”. As if I would put another cent into a services that just sucked down every penny I just fed it and gave me nothing in return.

So in summary… Reasonable Process, Quick Response to Support, Very Average App, Very Unreliable, at times Unusably Slow, Average Support Response. Stay Away from KnowrRaming

Note that these are just my experiences and subsequently my opinion of the service. I probably may have had better experiences had I received better support the second time I had major credit suck. I do have work colleagues that use the services and sewer by it, but once bitten twice shy. They had the opportunity to turn me into a happy customer, and it was as simple as a “sorry, here is your credit back”.

Telstra Mobile Overseas Data Charges

imageYou need to be very careful of the data charges while roaming overseas. Not because the charges are ridiculously high at $16 per meg. But because Telstra Australia lie about the amount of data you download.

I recently opened a 0.387 meg data connection while roaming in the USA. Only to be charged $92.39 for the privilege.

Lets just say hypothetically that I did not know exactly how much data I was downloading, and ripped into the maximum possible data that could have been downloaded in the 1:23 (1 min 23 seconds). I could not have downloaded that amount of data on a 3 G Connection even if it was a good connection and not the CRAP T mobile service that is on offer in LA.

So bottom line. They cheat you, and don’t provide you with proof or even the data downloaded in that time.

Apple or Android app development

It’s funny, that when we tell people we are now developing Apps for the iPhone and iPad, we get a response… “What about Android” They have a bigger market than Apple.

While technically the Android is gaining ground fast, it would appear that owners of Android products don’t actually use them!

Here is an extract of some data from Google Analytics about the use of iPhone, iPad and Android devices. on 15 March 2011.

image

Notice that there is one category for Android devices. If you lump the iPhone and iPad devices into one, you get a massive    1345 vs 153.  or a whopping 11% for Android. Now if you were us and developing for a market. Would you go for the 11% market that Android has?

So Android lovers, either get on your mobile devices and browse / buy like crazy, or accept that fact that your device is less used in the real world than you would like!

Part 4: Talking to an asmx web service – A .net developer learns objective-c for iPhone iPad

So here i am reading up on how the cocoa touch framework doesn’t have support for working with xml too easily and its not an easy task to undertake in manually parsing a soap xml… when along comes something so amazing i may have wee’d my pants a little.

Behold http://sudzc.com

SudzC is an amazingly helpful website where you simply pass it a url to an asmx or upload a wsdl file, it spits you out a fully fledged example project along with reference documentation and the source code you’ll need to include to make webservice communication as easy as…

image

Important stuff is the:

[service … line and the Completed action (or event in .net speak) it returns. I simply just spat some stuff out to the log to see some results.

What’s is awesome and worth mentioning (again) is what is in ws.iPhone.zip\Source\Examples. From within the zip you get sent from SudzC is the all important examples you need to start cracking (with YOUR webmethods).

SudzC … i think i’m in love!

Part 2: Nappies and training wheels – A .net developer learns objective-c for iPhone iPad

Just going through some early podcast videos from the Cocoa Touch Netcast www.cocoatouchnetcast.com (search cocoatouch netcast in the itunes store).

The first video is good going off the back of the videos mentioned in my last post. The 2nd video ep 2: Slider is also helpful. It clearly explains Class inheritance (a class is your code, classes can be inherited from super classes bringing with it certain functionality), actions and outlets (the way which the UI interacts back and forth with the code) and a good demo of a basic slider control flinging left to right adjusting with it the text in a label of the sliders current position. A good hello world (without the text hello world).

Have a good pause at 11mins into it for a good screen explaining actions and outlets.

[ViewController]
outlet -> points to label
action -> references a slider’s event

So the code in SliderViewController.h would look something like:

#import <UIKit/UIKit.h>
@interface SliderViewController : UIViewController {
UILabel *sliderLabel;
}
@property (nonatomic, retain) IBOutlet UILabel *sliderLabel;
- (IBAction)sliderChanged(id)sender;
@end

And with any .h file there is a matching .m file, SliderViewController.m would look like this:

#import "SliderViewController.h" 
@implementation SliderViewController 
@synthesize sliderLabel; 
-(IBAction)SliderChanged(id)sender { 
UISlider *slider = (UISlider *)sender; 
int progressAsInt = (int)(slider.value + 0.5f); 
NSString *newText = [[NSString alloc] initWithFormat:@"%d", progressAsInt]; 
sliderLabel.text = newText; 
[newText release]; 
} 
-(void)dealloc { 
[sliderLabel release]; 
[super dealloc]; 
}

Armed with limited knowledge (feel free to correct me) I see variables and methods are referenced in the .h file (variables within the {}’s and methods after). Naming a variable (ie sliderLabel) the same as the outlet seems to give you the ability to speak directly with the label on the UI.

You need to call @synthesize to be able to use the sliderLabel variable on the .m file. This I assume from the example is to be called for every variable mentioned in the .h file.

So … time for me to do some damage. Stay tuned, lets see if I can remember to alloc, init and release!

Part 1: Baby steps – A .net developer learns objective-c for iPhone iPad

What is this?
A series of blog posts about a staff member at InteractiveWebs (.net developer since .net went 1.0) taking on the challenge of transitioning to iPhone and iPad development.

Brief context:
Every day we live with "Object not set to an instance of an object" or "modify the web.config" this or "I’m not a xaml designer" that. Hang on a second, if I am frustrated by using Microsoft technology well developing for it is equally frustrating. But if using Apple technology is the equivalent to geek crack, then I wonder if developing for Apple and its devices are an equally enjoyable experience.

Where am I at?
Had a play with Monotouch http://monotouch.net and it seems like a logical step for someone like me. However it did dawn on me that I’m trying to move away from the .net way of life so in a way monotouch seems a bit of a cop out (while I am a big fan of what those guys are doing).
Its been a few days of downloading sdk’s and watching demo videos. Already getting itchy to jump in to some code.

First things first. Bookmark, Favourite and Pin to home screen http://developer.apple.com as this site is amazingly helpful. (You don’t even need to read dreaded …. Whitepapers)!

Here you will find everything from surprisingly helpful documentation, videos and the iPhone OS SDK (this includes once downloaded xcode, xcode is your new visual studio). You will need to create a developer account, no problem it just attaches on to your existing itunes account. Brilliant!

On this page http://developer.apple.com/iphone/index.action click on the "Getting Started Videos". It will open up itunes allowing you to download some great videos to iTunes U. My next steps which were very helpful were to watching the following videos:

  • Introduction to the iPhone SDK
  • Key practices for iPhone Application Development
  • Fundamentals of Cocoa Session from WWDC

That last video I suggest watching very slowly, rewinding as much as you need to letting it all sink in. It was this video where things began making sense.

That’s it for the first post. Next will likely be jumping in to Views and kicking off a traditional "Hello World".