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Trains hate phones, iPhone tunes in to digital TV and Palm to make its return?

It's the weekly Pocket Picks round-up

Trains hate phones, iPhone tunes in to digital TV and Palm to make its return?
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Kia Ora!

Don't you just hate people who use mobile phones? I mean other people – folk who don't use them only when it's necessary, like we do, but call someone every bloody day when they get on the train to tell them they're on the train and will be home at the usual time. You know the kind. Well, our Pocket Picks research imps have dug up a couple of good railway-based stories that will hopefully put paid to the dreadful abuse of good oxygen that train-callers are renowned for.

The first story is a cautionary one, about a French passenger who dropped his phone down the lavvy and attempted to recover it with his long reach. Once the suction flush kicked in, however, his dialling hand was pulled further into the high speed cistern causing a two-hour delay for the other passengers. To top it all off, he wasn't even able to phone his wife to tell her that today, he actually wouldn't be home at the usual time.

This story is followed up by more of a preventative tale. Rail operator C2C is apparently attempting to enforce the phone-free environment of its quiet carriages by blocking signals. A new coating is to be applied to train windows that actively thwarts not only mobile phone transmissions, but wi-fi and UHF radio, too. Silence, it seems, costs gold.

But as much as the railways don't want you whipping your phones out in public, a new system for Google's Android OS could prove to make your phone something of a saviour. A new 'nosey neighbour' application called iSafe uses GPS to track your location and report back on a host of local hazards. The software intends to give you the location of dangers such as allergy aggravators, voice guided alerts to help navigate drivers out of potential high-crime neighbourhoods, information on nearby sex offenders and air quality reports.

Apparently there's also an iPhone version on the way, which could always tie in with the newly launched Google Earth application, which allows you to literally have the world in the palm of your iHand. But Google isn't going to let the iPhone get too far ahead, and has added Google Maps to its operating system's repertoire, which even makes an estimation of your location in the absence of GPS data (presumably by detecting local wifi signals and extrapolating from those). Tie all this together with the sex offender-locating iSafe application and you've got something of a voyeuristic, paranoia-powered sat nav system that can plan you an alternative route around unsavoury social classes. Assuming we still dare go outside, this could all be quite useful.

On the lighter side of mobile phone obsession, there's good news for all those old Palm fans out there (I believe we even reminisced about the old Tungsten T3 last week, didn't we?). The company that bought the rights to the Palm OS, called Access, is apparently planning a follow-up operating system based on Linux. The early screenshots should look quite familiar to old Palm pressers, and Access promise this system should not only be able to run Palm and Garnet applications, but also native Linux code (and that's not a far cry from Android software). Damnably exciting, assuming it can find its way into the right handset.

And with the likes of Linux-friendly hardware manufacturer Asus looking to get in on handset design, there could be a beautiful partnership somewhere down the line. The Taiwanese manufacturer has announced it'll be entering the Android market next year with a brand new phone design, which will then become available to distributors worldwide through a rebadging system (as HTC does).

Which brings us to a close with our usual look at this week's hot new handsets. First we begin with a slight diversion from the norm with a look at the awesome iPhone add-on which turns your Apple handset into a TV tuner. Connecting wirelessly with the iPhone through wi-fi, the TV tuner then streams the picture to a specially designed app, and broadcast pictures are yours to carry with you.

Last word has to go to one of the sexiest phones we've seen for quite some time; Casio's Exilim powered Keitai W63CA. It might have a rubbish name that even C3-PO would forget, but a picture of it speaks a thousand words. Ultra slim, yet tricked out with a wide-angle eight-megapixel camera, 30fps VGA video and 3G, all we can do right now is press out noses up to the Japanese window – it's only being release on its native shores. But we can dream…

Kia Ora!