Tag Archive | mobile & wireless

A Facebook (iPad) Update Turns the App Into an Entertainment Hub

Facebook iPad Update

Over 70 percent of people who use Facebook for iPad played a Facebook-connected game in the past 90 days, so the company is helping them discover or re-engage with games through a new home page sidebar it starts testing today on its iPad app. It includes social notifications for native mobile and Facebook web games you already play, video trailers for games you don’t, plus Trending news articles and Trending videos popular with your demographic. The growth opportunities could entice more developers to integrate Facebook into their games, and Facebook plans to eventually sell ads for games in this space. By filling the extra screen space with what tablet users love, Facebook hopes its home on iPad can become a more essential part of people’s live…even if that means bouncing them into other apps or showing them YouTube videos.

Read the full story at TechCrunch.

Cue is a Home ‘Spit Kit’ That Mimics Five Lab Tests

Cue

The quantified self movement has been mostly focused on athletes and people trying to be active and measure their progress, but in the last year or so it has branched into the medical realm. Cue is one such example of this phenomenon. The device, which debuted on Tuesday, tracks inflammation, vitamin D, fertility, influenza, and testosterone via a swab of spit, snot or blood. The Cue is a tiny handheld device that contains a microfluidics array to test a variety of hormones found in the blood (vitamin D, fertility, inflammation), saliva (testosterone) or mucus (influenza). For $300 at retail ($150 or $200 for a set number of pre-orders), you buy the device and get a set of five cartridges that will actually handle your bodily secretions and then be disposed of. This way a family can share a Cue much like they would a scale or thermometer. Additional cartridges cost between $2 and $5 depending on the test.

Read the full story at Giga OM.

How to Remove Android Bloatware Without Rooting Your Phone

Android

It’s an all too frequent dilemma. You get one of the best high-end Android phones out there-maybe it’s a Galaxy S5, or maybe it’s an HTC One-and the hardware is impeccable. But the software experience is all mucked up from carrier add-ons and skinning. While you can root your phone to get the true stock Android phone experience you’d get from a Nexus device, you can actually get a similar stock experience without rooting. To remove apps, the easiest way is by downloading a few Google-made apps and making them your defaults. Google Calendar, Google Keyboard, and Google Hangouts are the calendar, typing, and chatting experiences you’d get on stock Android, and they’re available for download right from Google Play. Alternatively, you can download the APK for these and other stock KitKat features here.

Read the full story at Wired.

Google Now Can Remind You When It’s Time to Pay Your Bills

Google Now

As predicted back in March based on an APK teardown, Google Now has received bill reminder integration via your Gmail account. The level of detail for some billers seems fairly basic at the moment: Google Now identifies emails in your Gmail account as bills, and a card will show up with the name of the biller, the amount due, the due date, and an option to view the email the bill was sent with. The “Pay now” image we mocked up doesn’t look exactly like what our tipster sent, but that’s probably because this bill isn’t for a billing provider Google Now has achieved rich integration with. What you’re seeing is probably the most basic incarnation of the feature, whereas other billers may have or receive in the future more detailed information and options for action (such as paying your bill). We know that strings for things like minimum payments, previous balances, last month’s bill, and “see more bills” exist in the Now APK.

Read the full story at Android Police.

It’s Still The Information Super Toll Road: An Intended Consequence of Net Neutrality

Toll Plaza

On May 15, 2014, the FCC voted to move forward with considerations on a proposal for new rules known as “Open Internet” rules – the new name for Net Neutrality. If you are a provider of Internet services, nothing has changed. You still get to do business exactly the way you have been. If you are a concerned citizen wondering how you can compete and prosper in a world where ISPs charge for the “fast lane,” you still have time to make your case.

Back in 2010, I wrote this article to help get the discussion going. Right now, the FCC’s current ruling should highly motivate all interested parties to get into the discussion. Here’s a way to think about it.

An Excellent Place for a Tollbooth

Internet Toll Plaza

There’s still an ongoing battle between Level 3 and Comcast (update: since the article was originally written, Level 3 and Comcast have settled their dispute). It’s a good example of the kind of issues that are intended consequences of the Net Neutrality debate. Netflix uses Level 3 to deliver its videos to customers. It pays Level 3 for bandwidth. If you are a Comcast customer, you pay Comcast for bandwidth. In theory Level 3 is getting paid and Comcast is getting paid and everything should be fine. However, in order for your Netflix movie to arrive at your Comcast-connected home, the bits have to pass from Level 3 to Comcast. If you’re Comcast, this is an excellent place to put a tollbooth.

Up to now, Level 3 and Comcast have had an arrangement that allowed each company to send bits bidirectionally. The arrangement was made back when both companies sent about the same amount of bits to each other. But now that Level 3 is sending more bits through Comcast than Comcast is sending through Level 3, Comcast wants to be paid. This is the nature of the current battle in its simplest terms. But, like I said, it’s a smoke screen.

The clich description for the public Internet (courtesy of Al Gore) is the “Information Superhighway.” It’s a reasonable metaphor for the way information travels around the Internet. Even engineers like to call bunches of bits getting from place to place, “traffic.”

People vs. Bunches of Bits

In the physical travel world, you can get from place to place several different ways. You can walk, ride a bike, take a car, take a bus, take a train or fly. Of course, while some places are only accessible by air, we all know that remote locations very often require us to use multiple modes of transportation. Now, imagine that people are bits.

The physical transportation world also has a fairly well defined class structure. It is segmented with modes of travel that efficiently meet the needs of each constituency – and it is economically segregated. You are about as likely to find an Upper Eastside Socialite in the lounge at the Port Authority bus terminal waiting for a bus to South Carolina, as you are to find a single mother of six on welfare in the Admiral’s Club at JFK Terminal 8 waiting for her first class seat to the Vineyard. It happens, but not often. Most of the time, modes of travel – air, train, bus, car, bike, feet – are a function of economic class, means and emergent need. To keep the metaphor going, imagine that Comcast is Cathay Pacific Airlines and Time Warner Cable’s basic broadband service is Amtrak and Verizon’s low-end DSL service is Greyhound.

How would we expect the economic landscape to look in a world where, instead of one Information Superhighway, we’d have web of public and privately owned Information Super Toll Roads? Would we expect people who could only afford Greyhound bus service to do business with companies in Europe or Asia? Would we expect people who could only afford Amtrak train service to compete with people who could deliver merchandise overnight via air? Would organizations that own toll roads make it just a little too expensive to compete with them? Would organizations that own airlines charge competitors for extra bags and bigger seats? Keep asking travel questions – they all apply!

A Look to the Future

It is hard to be optimistic about a future world where there is a low-powered free and open Internet and a web of private toll roads owned by non-governmental organizations that inherently compete with their customers. The specter of such a world bodes ill for innovation, entrepreneurship and, in some ways, even the doing of digital life. That said, regulating pricing for Internet Service Providers will seriously dissuade private investment in the infrastructure we need to move America into the Information Age.

This line of thinking begs for the question: Will a plurality of Internet under-classes evolve? Want a current day analog? Look at the prepaid mobile phone business. It’s huge, and so unstructured that even the service providers don’t know who is using their products or how they are using them.

Back in the day, phone companies charged us for making calls, but receiving a call was free. This was a function of technology, not desire. As soon as cell phones hit the market, we started paying for time used (bandwidth) both coming and going. What’s happening with Net Neutrality is a fight over exactly the same issue. Now, we pay for the bandwidth we use on one end. If this goes the wrong way, we (you and I) will pay for bandwidth both coming and going. On a personal level, this is not onerous. However, at the enterprise level, if we were to govern America for the best possible GDP (as opposed to governing for corporate profits), it has the potential to be a huge problem.

I am NOT advocating any government involvement with the Internet. I think government has proven that it has no business being in any business. However, this is not a debate you can leave to others. Get your elected officials on the phone. Take a few minutes to learn about the issue. This is the moment that we have to step up and become architects of our digital future. Become part of the solution… America needs you!

Uber Launches ‘UberRUSH,’ a Courier Service in NYC

UberRUSH

App-based car-hire start-up Uber is launching a dedicated courier service Tuesday, starting in Manhattan. “It’s an Uber for things,” said Josh Mohrer, general manager of Uber NYC. The new service, called UberRUSH, uses a courier on foot or on bike to deliver a package from anywhere in Manhattan to anywhere else, for between $15 and $30, depending on the the distance traveled in the city, Mohrer said. In most cases, delivery would take under an hour, he said. The app, available Tuesday, also lets parties on both ends of the transaction track the progress of the courier in real time. Mohrer wouldn’t say how many couriers Uber has hired right now, but that the company intends to “always have enough” people. The service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The company plans to roll it out to other cities.

Read the full story at CNBC.

When is it Time to Upgrade Your Mobile Tech?

iPad 2 vs iPad Air

I have an iPad 2. I don’t use it very much, but it’s there for me whenever a new game comes out … or whenever my Macbook is just out of reach.

The iPad 2 came out on March 11, 2011. In the grand scheme of things (and I’m not talking about the “cosmic calendar” from “Cosmos”), three years is nothing. But when it comes to consumer tech, my iPad is ANCIENT. If you count the two iPad mini models, five new iPads have launched since my iPad 2 first hit store shelves. Five! In three years!

Every time I look at my iPad, I think about how I want a new one. The new models are lighter, thinner and faster, and all have better screens. I haven’t upgraded from iOS 6 to 7 because I’ve heard it doesn’t play well on the iPad 2. But I’m not going to upgrade my iPad, because I don’t use it enough and it still works fine.

But that got me wondering: When is the right time to upgrade your mobile tech?

I like to buy a really good (but not usually top-tier) piece of tech, then run it into the ground before I upgrade. If you’re the type of person who needs to have the latest-and-greatest everything, this advice doesn’t really apply to you. But if you’re like the rest of us, and you just want to know when to pony up for a new gadget, read on.

Tablets

Tablets

Let’s start with tablets, since that’s what got me into this whole mess.

iPad: For new iPads, Apple usually tosses in a slightly more powerful processor and makes the device a little thinner. Sure, there are bigger changes from time to time – like adding a Retina display – but those are more uncommon than you might think. Plus, iPads are incredibly expensive (relative to most other tablets), so upgrading is more of a financial commitment here than in other instances.

  • Liberal Verdict: Every other generation. Got an iPad 2? Get a 4th-gen, then, too.
  • Conservative Verdict: Every three or four generations, or when a bunch of apps no longer support your device.

Android Tablets: To be honest, I’m not too familiar with the Android tablet landscape. I know it’s dominated by the Nexus 7, but that’s a relative newcomer to the field, and it’s hard to gauge just how much innovation Google’s going to throw at that line each upgrade. Android tablets are relatively inexpensive (especially when compared to an iPad), so upgrading is less of an investment, but there aren’t too many massive upgrades from one generation to the next, so upgrading isn’t a necessity.

  • Liberal Verdict: Every generation.
  • Conservative Verdict: When your device isn’t eligible for the newest major Android OS.

Kindle Fire Tablets: Like the Nexus line, the Kindle Fires are also relative newcomers to the tech scene. But Amazon has impressed me with how much it has added to each release. When you compare it to the latest Kindle Fire, the first-gen Fire I bought in the fall of 2011 is like a weird second-cousin that you avoid at family gatherings. Amazon’s added a ton of new software features – like FreeTime and Mayday – and has also launched tablets with bigger screens, which is an (obvious) big difference. At some point, though, Amazon will slow down its massive updates; until then, new Fire tablets seem like a reasonable investment.

  • Liberal Verdict: Every generation.
  • Conservative Verdict: When your toddler drops it one-too-many times and it doesn’t work anymore.

Phones

Phones

I think it’s a big lie that you need to upgrade your phone every two years. Just because your carrier gives you a big time discount to get a new device doesn’t mean you need to take them up on their offer. They’re only giving you that discount to lock you into another two-year deal; if you don’t upgrade (or buy your phone outright), you can opt out at any point with no penalty.

Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all recently introduced plans that let you upgrade your phone whenever the wind changes. But that program isn’t for us – that’s for the tech elite.

iPhones are like iPads – rarely does one generation to the next do much to wow me. The iPhone 6 will have a bigger screen, which is (arguably) the best improvement since Siri was added back with the 4S. But is it enough for me to upgrade just a year after I got my iPhone 5? Probably not.

Android devices can become obsolete much more quickly, especially if the manufacturer doesn’t get the latest version of Android to your device. Buying a Nexus will negate this problem, as will buying the top-tier devices, like the Galaxy S4 or HTC One M8. But if you’re buying mid-range, you might run into issues – and you’ll want to upgrade more quickly.

  • Liberal Verdict: As soon as you’re eligible for an upgrade.
  • Conservative Verdict: When your device won’t get the latest OS update, or when you drop it so many times that you can no longer read the screen.

Report: Samsung’s Next Wearable is the Galaxy Band, A Fitness Tracker

Samsung

While smartwatches have already managed to have a profound impact on some users, they have largely been something of a disappointment thus far. And to be frank, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear might be the worst among them, at least where big-brand offerings are concerned. In our review we said that the device itself was probably among the best designs Samsung has ever released, but the product was obviously rushed and the user experience suffered tremendously as a result. A recent report suggested that Samsung knew it had some serious missteps with the first Gear and is rushing out a sequel in the first quarter next year as a result, but a new report suggests that Samsung’s upcoming new wearable computer might be a smartwatch at all. A new report from Korean-language Digital News Daily late last week states that Samsung’s next swing at the emerging wearables market will be a fitness tracking band called the Galaxy Band.

Read the full story at Boy Genius Report.

Report: Galaxy Note III, Galaxy Gear to Ship Shortly After Unveiling

Samsung

On September 4, Samsung is widely expected to debut the Galaxy Note 3 and possibly a smartwatch called the Galaxy Gear. Introducing a product isn’t the same as offering it for sale, however, so how long will consumers have to wait for the new products? Not long suggests one site. SamMobile, which generally has good Samsung sources, reported on Monday that the two devices will launch very soon after their introductions. According to the site, shipping of the Galaxy Note 3 is planned for week 36 of the year – the same week of Samsung’s press event for the device – while the Galaxy Gear watch is slated to arrive on sale just four weeks later. Samsung is likely to announce official availability dates by region when introducing both products. The site also suggests that the Galaxy Note 3 will start in a 32 GB version to provide more free space to device owners.

Read the full story at Giga OM.

How to Fix Your iPhone’s Weird Auto-Correct Choices

iPhone 5c

I don’t know about you, but sometimes my iPhone’s autocorrect drives me ducking crazy. Take, for example, my cat’s name: Leeloo. Despite typing the name on a semi-daily basis, somehow my phone still tries to autocorrect “Leeloo” to “lee loo.” Back in the days of iOS 6, my phone used to autocorrect any misspelling of gingercast to GINGERCAST. But since upgrading to iOS 7, that doesn’t even work anymore. Your favorite 6-second gingers-only Vine-cast usually insists on being the “gingrcqst.” For months now I’ve been waiting patiently for autocorrect to re-learn the words I use regularly, with no luck. If you, like me, are fed up, then it’s time to take things into our own hands. First, the cat name misspelling. You can teach autocorrect to learn the correct spelling of words or names you use frequently by adding them as a contact in your phone.

Read the full story at Wired.

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