Help couriers and delivery drivers find your location with PinLogic

PinLogic are an Irish company based in Co Mayo that are trying to help couriers and delivery drivers locate their customers easily and efficiently.

pinlogic-205638-h900The service makes use of the GPS location tracking available in smartphones to pinpoint exactly where a customer is located, so that delivery drivers don’t waste time and fuel driving around trying to find an address.

The delivery driver uses a smartphone app to send an SMS to the customer.  The customer then clicks on a URL in the SMS, which opens a web page. The web page then uses the GPS in the phone to find the location, and sends it to the delivery driver.  The exact location is then plotted on a map in the driver’s app.

It’s quite a simple idea, but an effective one – and it could be especially useful for rural deliveries, or where a driver isn’t familiar with an area.  And with Ireland’s supposed new postcode system not showing any signs of appearing soon, this is a great solution.

However, I would like to see the service expanded to include more customer information. At present the service is focused on providing an accurate location to a delivery driver.  But as anyone who’s ever waited in at home for a delivery knows well, it would also be great if the customer could track where the delivery driver is located.

Hailo seem to do this two-way information quite well.  The taxi driver gets an accurate pickup location when the cab is booked, and the passenger can also track the approaching taxi and keep an eye out for it.

Why I won’t by buying the Nexus 6

I’ve been a fan of the Google Nexus phones for a couple of years, and have written in the past about getting my hands on a Nexus 4 and a Nexus 5 before they were available in Ireland. And like of lot of other fans, I was quite excited to learn what was coming next.

The major attraction of the Nexus mobiles is that you were able to get a top-performing phone at a discount price, but with the new Nexus 6 announced yesterday, you’re still getting a top-performing phone but it’s now got a premium price tag attached. And, let’s face it, the screen is way too big!

With the Nexus 6, they have deviated from a winning formula, and potentially upset a lot of fans.  The whole point of getting a Nexus 4 or Nexus 5 was that you could ditch those expensive mobile contracts, buy a reasonably-priced smartphone SIM-free for about €350, and save a fortune over the life of a phone.  The Nexus 6 price is more likely to be cost €650 SIM-free in Ireland – almost double.

It’s interesting that Google still intends to keep selling the Nexus 5, which is still a strongly performing phone, even if it is a year old now. It understands that a lot of people are not interested in the ‘phablet’ sized Nexus 6, and so have kept the Nexus 5 available for sale.

But here’s the thing… I’m an early adopter of technology, and I like to feel that I have the ‘latest and greatest’ technology, and have got used to replacing my mobile every year. But at the moment, I have no upgrade path. I have no motivation to put my hand in my pocket and hand over some money.

So for now, it seems I’ll be keeping hold of my Nexus 5 – which will probably come as bad news to my wife, who had plans to take it off me once I upgraded.

Ordering the Google Nexus 5 in Ireland

Update 19/03/2014: The Nexus 5 and 7 are now available to purchase SIM-free direct from the Google Play Store in Ireland. The Nexus 5 is also available as part of a contract from Three Ireland and Meteor.

I’ve written about how I’ve ordered the Nexus 4 in the past, and a few minutes after the Nexus 5 was released to the public today I had already ordered one for myself, and I thought I’d share how I did it:

  1. To access the Google Play store to order the phone you need to appear as if you’re in the UK. For this you need to use a VPN or Proxy service. I use VPNUK to access the play store, and they have a 7-day free trial if you want to give them a go – but any similar service will do – lots of other people seem to use “Tunnel Bear”.  If you already have an active Google account, you may need to use the privacy/incognito mode of your browser, as sometimes the Google browser cookies will continue to identify you as being in Ireland even when you use the VPN.
  2. Have a UK delivery address ready to use.  I use Parcel Motel for this, and you can use their Northern Ireland address for delivery – more info on using Parcel Motel.
  3. You need to have a credit/debit card that is registered to a valid UK address, but it doesn’t have to be the same address as you’re using for delivery. I’ve heard of people that re-register their Irish credit card with a UK address, use PayPal, or use a UK prepaid credit card, but I can’t comment on whether any of those work.

The Nexus 5 is available in both Black and White, and is priced at £299 for the 16GB model and £339 model – and both come pre-loaded with the latest version 4.4 (KitKat) of Android.

My Google Nexus 5 - just arrived today!
My Google Nexus 5 – just arrived today!

Hailo

I’ve had the Hailo app on my iPhone for a while now, but it’s only in the last couple of weeks that I’ve started using it, and I’m already a covert!

Hailo App Dublin
Hailo App Dublin

Available for free on both iPhone and Android smartphones, Hailo will help you hail a taxi more quickly, more easily, and more safely.

When you launch the app, it automatically works out where you are, and also where all the nearest taxis are – and displays them all on a map. If you then decide to book a cab, it’ll send out a message to the nearest car, and let you know as soon as it’s booked – all within a few seconds – and will continue to track the taxi as it makes its way to you.

The service relies upon taxis signing up to the service, and it seems that more and more of the city’s drivers are using it. Over the last few weeks, I’ve talked to several drivers about their experiences of using Hailo. Without exception, they love it, as it gives them more work – and it’s also much cheaper for them than using a traditional radio booking system. Some drivers are using Hailo to supplement the jobs they get over the radio, but in one case a driver told me that he had cancelled his ties to a cab company (and the associated fixed cost of €150 a week – regardless of the amount of work it yielded) and was using Hailo exclusively.

For the passengers too the Hailo app had lots of advantages. As I said, the app can identify where you are – and it’s a simple matter to pinpoint the exact address by typing in the house number. You can also specify what size of taxi you want – with options for 1-4 passengers, 6 passengers, 7 passengers, 8 passengers, or a wheelchair accessible cab – and so, if you have a big party, you can filter your search for taxis that meet your requirements.

Another big advantage of Hailo is that you can pre-define one or more credit/debit cards, and select to pay by card as part of the booking. The removes the worry about having enough cash to pay for your journey. Most taxis will take payment by credit/debit card already, but it can seem like a bit of a faff to pay by card, as it takes a while to process. But not with Hailo. As soon as you arrive, the driver can take payment with a single press (and you can decide to tip your driver), and an email receipt is sent out straight away.

When you book the cab, you get told the details of the driver that’s coming to get you, including their name, badge number and car registration – which makes it a lot safer, as you know you’re getting into the right car. Hailo vets drivers themselves, so you also have that added sense of safety, so that if something does happen during your journey it’s possible to trace who your driver was.

And finally, if you accidentally leave something behind in the cab you can report the loss through the app.

First access to Mailbox iPhone app

Mailbox app waiting list
Mailbox app waiting list

After waiting around a month in the waiting list, I have finally got access to the Mailbox iPhone app this morning.

When I first downloaded the app in early February there were almost half a million people ahead of me in the queue waiting to get access, and it’s taken all this time to get to me. And as you can see, there are another 722,000 people waiting behind me!

Anyway, so I’ve been able to register my Gmail account with them, and have been able to try out the app.

It took about half an hour to sync with the thousands of emails in my account, but once finished, the app is very slick.