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Mobile battery life could be getting better

There have been countless posts about the new importance battery life plays as a deciding factor in mobile electronics. Most smartphones today do pretty much the same basics, equivalent of the point A to point B reference commonly used. So one of the biggest differentiator has become battery life, after all what good are all the features if you can’t use them? Well it seems that some new breakthroughs mean mobile battery life could be getting better eventually.

There are some things that are being held back by the constraints of battery life.Take for example Siri, the digital personal assistant on Apple’s iOS devices. Currently the assistant has to be activated with a key press because having the device listen for audio ques would cause horrible battery life. This is just one example of a feature that could be made exponentially better if battery life was removed from the eqaution as a concern. Well then the new advancements that have been made at the University of Illinois could have a very big impact in that area. The article “Small in size, big on power” explains how the microbatteries offer phenominal power in their small size. The article explains that,

The most powerful batteries on the planet are only a few millimeters in size, yet they pack such a punch that a driver could use a cellphone powered by these batteries to jump-start a dead car battery – and then recharge the phone in the blink of an eye.

Now that is some serious juice and could unlock a world of potential in mobile computing. Potential in both features and also the size of devices. I’m all for a time when running low on battery power is not a concern the same day devices are charged.

Now if you pair that with the work of a California teen who has come up with a way to recharge a dead phone in just 20 seconds flat the future of mobile technology looks even brighter. Just this past long weekend here in Canada as we celebrated Victoria Day my iPhone was brought to it’s knees. Before I powered it off at 10% battery life. I was at a trailer enjoying the sunshine and barbeque food with family and friends. I was doing some internet browsing, on a few social networks and all of it through LTE so my battery was understandable getting low. As a result I’ve started looking for external battery packs that I can use to extend the charge of my mobile devices. With a two week holiday coming up later this year I’m anticipating a greater need for the device. Well imagine if all it took to recharge my battery was 20 seconds, 5 minutes would make me jump for joy so at under half a minute that is just unbelievable.

As this Yahoo piece explains Eesha Khare used her impressive knowledge of chemistry to solve the issue of a “dead battery” in mobile devices. She invented an energy storage device that can charge a cell phone in 20-30 seconds! The “supercapacitor” stores lots of energy in a tiny space and can hold it for a long time. It also lasts for 10,000 recharge cycles, compared to the usual 1,000 for current rechargeable batteries. The invention was part of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair that took place in Phoenix, AZ a week ago. Eesha Khare for her supercapacitor got the Young Scientist Award along with $50,000. The prize however is very small compared to what this could mean for the world of mobile. So with brilliant people making these kind of advancements the future of mobile looks even brighter. It must be powered by a microbattery.

Sources: Illinois News Bureau, NBC.com and Yahoo

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T-Mobile

T-Mobile’s “No Restriction” Plan Not What it Seems

It hasn’t even been a month yet since T-Mobile announced their no contract plans that could be cancelled without any restrictions. T-Mobile offering brand new mobile technology at a massive discount without having a contract ended up being too good to be true after all.

The original advertising made it seem like customers could sign up for a new T-Mobile line, pick up a new phone at a competitively discounted price, and then cancel their plan at any time. Unfortunately, that isn’t quite the case, and there is still a fee related to ending your plan before the first two years are up.

Instead of having a high contract cancellation fee, people who cancel their T-Mobile plans will instead have to pay off a balance owed on the cost of their phone. Under these agreements, customers make roughly a $20 payment each month on their phone, and that continues as long as they have the phone. When cancelling a line, the customer would have to pay for the entire phone minus the original payment and however much they have paid for the phone since receiving it.

T-Mobile was investigated by the Attorney General in Washington, who has ordered that T-Mobile will have to change their advertising practices. They’re no longer allowed to advertise the plan as having no restrictions, and consumers will have to be warned about early termination costs when they start their new line.

In addition to this, T-Mobile will have to offer refunds to anybody who has started this plan since it was announced.

Cell phone carriers have come up with many clever ways to nickle and dime their customers, and T-Mobile’s outright deception is just another trick in the mobile market game. This incident has actually been one of the few times that a carrier has been regulated.

I definitely find that it’s in the best interest for all customers to be informed when making big financial decisions. Choosing a cell phone plan can have a large negative impact financially if you make a major mistake. Hopefully the other companies will see that it’s not good practice to trick customers into their money making schemes.

Source: Forbes

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Don’t be a cheapskate when buying apps

The race to the bottom in app pricing has been talked about a lot. People will always pay the least they have to whenever they can but just keep in mind “A cheap app isn’t always good and a good app isn’t always cheap”. But as consumers, customers we get so much more for the price we pay when we buy an app. So please don’t be a cheapskate when buying apps.

I wrote a post sometime last year about just this topic and since it’s now gone that means I get to try to bring some attention to the issue again. Over at Macworld Lex Friedman (@lexfri) wrote a great post “A $5 app isn’t expensive” it’s a great read, check it out, there are many great points. I’m also going to talk about the same topic and will speak on some of the same points but with my own opinions and point of view. To start off with let’s look at what we get when we buy an app. If I buy an app I’m not only able to run it on my iPhone. I can run it on my iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or iPad Mini, if I owned all of those devices. I don’t need to pay again or pay a licensing fee for each device I just pay for the app once and I can enjoy it on a multitude of devices. The updates to apps so far have also been free. I still have apps I bought when I owned an iPhone 3G. Whenever there are updates to increase the functionality, enjoyment, etc. I get it without having to pay a cent.

Coffee, Beer and Smokes

Now I’m not saying buying coffee at Starbucks, a 24 pack of Bud or a pack of cigarettes is less worthwhile than an app. Every person can spend their hard earned money on whatever they want. My point is if a person just takes a minute to add up how much buying a Latte, 24 pack or cigarettes costs for a month or a year and then compare it to the cost of buying a few good apps at 2.99, 5.99, 10.99. It would be eye-opening what the difference in cost is and yet the apps will be entertaining, useful and relevant much longer than any of the consumables will last. Now I know there are people who might buy bargain price coffee or not drink or smoke at all. However that is not the point, most people have things that we spend money on, hobbies, interests things that we enjoy. Apps provide the same things enjoyment, productivity, creativity, entertainment. So why do we value them so cheaply when compared to other things?

Developers need to make a living too

I know the executives from Apple always stand on stage and show the image of a check for the Billions of dollars that has been paid out to developers. The amount seems enormous and paints a picture that every developer is rolling on easy street. Now while I’m sure many developers have been successful at making a living take a look at the number of apps that are in the app store. If every developer was raking in thousands of dollars the money paid out would be much larger. It’s a hard process to create these apps that help us to do things, create things, keep in touch, or just relax. Just like you and I these developers have families, mortgages and bills to pay. I feel like this is something that is partially Apple’s fault because by bringing big companies up on stage at their keynotes they have made developers out to be these big companies able to produce blockbuster titles. People don’t get to see the little guys who are trying to make it on their ideas and talent. So what happens when consumers shy away from the pricier apps? The standard of quality of the apps goes down because if only the cheap apps sell then developers will just make apps cheaply. Apps will get abandoned or never be updated because the developer will just move on to some other endeavor that will feed their family. Perhaps one day we will even start having to pay for updates, it might seem impossible now but never say never!

Race to the bottom

When I compare Apple’s app store to the Jailbreak app store “Cydia” it’s funny because it is not as I would expect. In Cydia there hasn’t been a race to the bottom with most apps costing 0.99 cents. There are many themes, tweaks and apps that are free whether supported through ads or they were just made out of the developers love of providing features or a theme. However many of the functional tweaks, apps or full system wide themes, tweaks like Gridlock 2, Infinidock, Zephyr and apps like BiteSMS, will cost 3.99 all the way up to 10.99 and people will pay. Perhaps because there aren’t a multitude of apps that do much of the same thing but cost less. Perhaps because the developers set the price and you either pay or move on. I’m not sure why but that is what I would love to see in the Apple app store. I’d love to see apps that cost what they are worth, for the gorgeous interface, brilliant features and the usefulness it provides to the customer. I’d love to see more developers making more polished apps because customers are willing to pay for them when they are put in the app store.

So the next time anyone is browsing the app store or a friend or family member has suggested an app. Try not to let yourself react in shock at the sticker price of the app and immediately close the app store. I’m sure many of us can afford that $2, $5 or $10 so just consider if what the app will enable you to do is worth the price tag. Don’t be a cheapskate when buying apps!

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The Unforeseeable Future of Windows Phone

The following is a guest post by David Ingram of My Social Agency.

The smartphone market is possibly the most competitive in the world at the moment. However, for the most part it’s Apple and Samsung who are slugging it out for top position, with Samsung considerably in the lead right now.

Microsoft was a somewhat late arrival to the smartphone revolution and it’s this that leaves the Windows Phone trailing. Add to this the lack of apps that are currently available for Windows Phone, when compared to Apple and Android, and it’s easy to see why it still hasn’t taken off to any great extent.

Offer Windows Phone developers bribes

Following on in the footsteps of RIM, which offered devs a $10,000 bonus if their app made it through the submissions process into the Blackberry app store, Microsoft has launched its own rewards program.

They are offering $100 for all Windows 8 apps published between March 8th and June 30th, with devs able to submit up to 10 each. This may go some way to addressing the lack of apps, but only if developers play ball.

However, much like with RIM, terms apply and devs can’t just submit any old rubbish. Apps must be submitted and approved and do have to be quite functional, an app that just opens up a browser to a mobile web won’t cut the mustard

Too little, too late?

Whether this will be enough for the Windows Phone to catch up with Samsung and Apple is quite unlikely though. The gap is simply too large and the Samsung Galaxy S3 has been dubbed the world’s favorite phone, and this was before the shiny new Galaxy S4 was launched.

However, the ‘smoked by Windows Phone’ advertising campaign is about to heat up and air on US TV this week, so we could see some changes if the campaign is a success. The ad campaign first appeared at CES in 2012 and then went on to YouTube where it showed a series of challenges to prove that the Lumia 920 is better than the S3.

The ad shows that the Nokia Lumia allegedly has a better camera than the S3, especially in low-light and has a voiceover which says: “Say hello to the Nokia Lumia and goodbye to bad smartphone photos”.

Ouch.

Will this be enough to convince consumers that the S3 is substandard? Doubt it. Besides anything else, it doesn’t address the app problem, which is the main beef of users.

Time will tell though, it’s a vague possibility that we may see Microsoft turn its current problems around and begin making gadgets and OS’ that people like again.

Bio: David is the SEO whizz at My Social Agency and has spent many years in the business, previously working with well-known brands in UK retail and entertainment. A family man, David is also a self-taught developer and has a genuine and driving passion for his work.

 

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40 years of mobile phones

There have been quite a few posts on T3KD lately talking about the mobile industry. Where is it going, what new hardware is out, better battery life, etc. So I thought with all this talk about better battery life among other features we’d love to see. Why not take a look back since it’s now been 40 years since the first mobile phone call was made. A look back that might bring perspective on how far we’ve come and why we don’t have it so bad after all.

So Gizmodo did a post on the 40th Anniversary of the first mobile call with a Yahoo post expanding even further on the information. They are both definitely worth a read and could possibly bring back some nostalgic feelings, if you were alive back then or older than 10 years old. I wont re-hash everything in the posts but instead highlight the important thing that struck me about how far we have come in the 40 years of mobile phones. I’ll also include a Motorola video that pretty much predicted the mobile phone trajectory in the future which is now our present!

The first call was made by Martin Cooper, April 3rd 1973 with a Motorola DynaTAC. The DynaTAC was nicknamed the “Brick” because it was 9 inches tall and weighed 28 ounces or 1.75 lbs! It had 30 circuit boards inside and 10 hours of charging gave you about 35 minutes of talk time! Can anyone even imagine that, in comparison the very first iPad weighed 1.6 lbs while most smartphones these days will last at the very least 4 hours on a single charge. It is just mind-blowing to look at the difference. Well enjoy a few pictures and video of mobile phones that had their moment in the spotlight.

Did you own one of these?

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Source – Engadget

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T-Mobile iPhone 5 to compete heavily with AT&T's handsets

T-Mobile iPhone 5 Models, Pricing, and Contract Details

The announcement earlier this week stunned a lot of people:  the T-mobile iPhone 5 will be available soon — for cheap — without a contract!  that’s right, in a news conference earlier this week the carrier that’s struggling to turn itself around and take on the Big Boys like AT&T made some huge announcements.

First, they said the T-Mobile LTE network is in testing in 9 cities across the country.  Then they announced that they’d be getting rid of their restrictive 2-year contracts and opening up a host of new plans to new people.  Then they announced that the T-Mobile iPhone 5 is a real thing and will be available (without a contract) for just $100 (upfront).

T-Mobile iPhone 5 Pricing Scheme

T-Mobile iPhone 5 to compete heavily with AT&T's handsetsThe announcement caused quite a stir and a lot of outlets struggled to get more details out of the company. Well, they’ve cleared the air a little bit and let their T-Mobile iPhone 5 pricing scheme out in the wild. Of course the $100 offer is for “qualified” persons (meaning you have to have good credit) but that doesn’t disqualify those with bad credit from getting the phone altogether — they’ll just have to pay more.

So, the $100 down plan means you’ll have to pay an additional $20 per month for 24 months. After that period, your plan drops $20 per month. So, the total cost of a T-Mobile iPhone 5 is just $579. That’s $70 cheaper than AT&T’s iPhone 5.

In addition to the “standard” T-Mobile iPhone 5 set-up available in-store, the carrier will also offer 32GB and 64GB versions as online exclusives. The former will retail for $199 down with the additional $20 for 24 months. The Latter will cost you $299 with the 24 monthly payments attached.

In all cases, the T-Mobile iPhone 5 pricing is considerably less than comparable models at AT&T. This has led analysts to speculate that T-Mobile could sell as many as 3 million iPhone 5 handsets during 2013 alone. That’s about 10% of all T-Mobile customers!

These flexible plans and an updated 4G LTE network could very well tease a solid number of subscribers away from bigger carriers like AT&T though only time will tell.  Will you be interested in buying a contract-free T-Mobile iPhone 5 when they become available?

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Law Enforcement to Mandate Carriers Store Text Messages?

In a disturbing Big Brother kinda of turn of events, law enforcement officials are banding together to pass legislation that would mandate all cellular carriers to store text messages.  the move would keep those texts on file for an indefinite amount of time for the sole purpose of making them available to law enforcement during criminal investigations.  It may sound okay at first but the safety and security of stored text messages alone is a whole messy can of worms.  Add to that the fact that nobody could be absolutely positive about how these agencies would be using these stored texts and you have a very controversial issue indeed.

Bill Would Instruct Carriers to Store Text Message Incriminating or Otherwise

CNET uncovered the request from “a constellation of law enforcement groups” that included those in several major cities across the United States. Word is that the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, the National District Attorneys’ Association, and the National Sheriff’s Association are the three main leads behind this proposed legislation.

Carriers may soon be required to store your text messagesThe legality of asking carriers to store text messages will definitely be called into question but with testimony in hand leaders from these agencies have been repeatedly proposing this move to various congressional groups since earlier this month.

The Good Side of Stored Text Messages

Investigators would be able to use these stored messages to prosecute individuals in various criminal activities including theft, domestic abuse, murder, and a host of other offenses. The stored text messages would also likely lead to greater recovery rates for stolen items and could indeed prevent crimes before they happen.

The Bad and the Ugly

Companies can’t even keep highly secured data safe from hackers so what’s to say that our stored text messages would be any safer? Random degenerates could easily get their hands on private sexy time messages, be able to follow the activity of individuals, and even access sensitive data that shouldn’t have been sent via text (but was anyway).

In addition, policing the police is a notoriously impossible job and civilian oversight committees are struggling to keep up with their current load of police infractions. Adding another layer to this may be a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back.

And who is to say that these text messages won’t be used for inappropriate purposes? The law enforcement agencies requesting them? The carriers responsible for storing them? It’s a very slippery slope and the issues seems to be sliding relatively unnoticed right under our collective noses.

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T-Mobile LTE Testing in Multiple Cities (Finally)

After years of passing of an inferior cellular network as 4G, T-Mobile LTE is finally right around the corner.  the news comes just weeks after a comprehensive third-party 4G network speed test discovered that T-Mobile was lagging behind all of the other nationwide carriers as far as speed was concerned (like light years behind).  The carrier currently only offers a HPSA+ network which it markets as 4G (but it’s really not).

Is T-Mobile LTE Testing Coming to Your Town?

The T-Mobile LTE testing is in isolated cities across the mop (and then not in the totality of any given city) but you could be (or maybe already are) benefitting from the necessary speed boost. Testing markets include:

  • Denver
  • Las Vegas
  • Kansas City
  • New Orleans
  • New York
  • San Diego
  • San Jose
  • Seattle

As OpenSignal notes, these T-Mobile LTE testing sites will likely be the first cities in which the service is available when it goes full blast.

T-Mobile LTE announcementT-Mobile LTE announcement Keep in mind, this is a test, only a test, but after years in development it looks like T-Mobile is very close to making the leap to offering an actual 4G LTE network.

There is another hitch though.  Because T-Mobile LTE is, for all intents and purposes, currently non-existent, the company doesn’t offer any 4G LTE phones per se.  However, a couple of their compatible headsets will be able to make use of the higher speed connectivity during the testing period.  These include:

  • Galaxy Note II
  • BlackBerry Z10
  • Galaxy (S III and IV)

T-Mobile LTE Speeds Respecatble

OpenSignal has been testing these T-Mobile LTE signals as well and has discovered that the 4G service isn’t just a watered-down version — it’s the real thing. With download speeds peaking at 25Mb/s and uploads of 8Mbp/s the T-Mobile LTE service looks to be on par with every other provider out there.

However, Gizmodo suggests that because the carrier has been able to squeeze astonishing speed out of their last generation cellular service that they may have something special waiting up their sleeves. In fact, the website believes that because T-Mobile isn’t replacing their existing network with LTE but just building on that they could position themselves as the provider to turn to if you want overall solid performance.

Oh, BTW, T-Mobile also now offers the iPhone 5 without a two-year contract.

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AT&T Ramps Up LTE Data Offerings

AT&T has upped the per-GB ante, and started offering a whole new tier of data to their ever hungry consumers.

“Our expanded Mobile Share plans make it even easier for business customers to choose a data option that’s right for them,” said Joe Lueckenhoff, AT&T Senior Vice President of Business Product Management, “whether it’s a large business wanting to better connect with employees, or a small business owner needing a data-only plan.”

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He calls the plans “deal for businesses, as well as consumers who need more data”, but forgets to add the part where you’d need to be making about 6 times the national average income just to afford a monthly cell phone bill. With carriers like Sprint, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS all offering substantially cheaper, unlimited 4G plans alongside a bevy of incredible smartphone options to choose from, it won’t be long before the two premiosos of the industry (AT&T and Verizon) will have to re-evaluate their stranglehold on the 700 MHz spectrum.

Not that I think it would matter when you’re already paying half a grand a month just for data, but don’t expect to get out of the standard “$30 per smartphone” fee either. It seems that even when you’re already shelling out a life savings for LTE speed, AT&T figures an extra four hundred bucks won’t matter.

I wonder what it’s like in those countries where the FCC (or its equivalent) isn’t run by a bunch of corrupt moneygrubbers who are forever in the pockets of giant teleconglomerates.

Must be nice.

Source| Gizmodo

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nyfi payphone alternative kiosks may soon be replacing these

NYFi Revives the Payphone (In New York City at Least)

nyfi payphone alternativeIt turns out that the payphone is not obsolete – according to public officials in New York City at least. They held a competition to bring new thinking in on the problem of public communications and the clear winner was a jazzy new “payphone” service that provides WiFi called NYFi (ironic, I know). The NYFi kiosks are designed to provide free Wi-fi to passersby and project alternating advertisements to the general public.

NYFi Catches the People’s Eye

The Reinvent Payphones design challenge was geared toward the public vote and NYFi clear winner (via Facebook) but that doesn’t mean that the service will ever see the light of day. No doubt there will “official” and officious studies and such that may effectively kill or delay the service indefinitely. However, it is a cool idea and even if New York doesn’t adopt it a more forward-thinking berg just might.

The NYFi kiosks were designed to come in two sizes. A large commercial version would be placed in high traffic areas such as midtown and a smaller version (that’s less obtrusive to the eye) would be placed in residential and historic areas of the city that are trying desperately to hold on to that old Big Apple charm.

Prototypes of the machine have already been built and were showcased at Demo Day early last week. There’s no word on any current plans to roll the program out though New York City officials do indeed seem keen on the idea of revamping their outdated payphone system. As many a DJ has noted, the younger generation has to ask what a payphone is after hearing the Maroon 5 single.

Interestingly enough, the NYFi kiosk wasn’t exactly the most popular choice as far as looks and functionality went. Several other designs bested the machine in those categories but the call of free WiFi (or free anything for that matter) was hard for New Yorkers to resist and propelled the NYFI kiosks to the top of the Connectivity class in the contest.

The kiosks are built with modularity in mind and could eventually replace existing machines such as Muni Meters, MetroCard dispensers and info kiosks around the city.

Info and Image Source: The Next Web

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