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Tuesday
Jul092013

Constantly losing your keys, and other things? Tile App to the rescue!

Here's a revolutionary new technology idea that's just getting off the ground called "Tile." What is it? Well, it's a small white key-fob-sized piece of technology that will allow you to easily locate it with your smartphone, from anywhere. Attach it to your keys, leave one in your purse, or attach it to your bike.

The Tile app works by detecting the proximity of your tile through your phone and will give you indications of how close you are. It also has a built-in speaker to help you find it. Check out the website, here: http://www.thetileapp.com/ There's also a demo video available on the site. Pretty amazing stuff!

Currently, it's only available on iPhone, but it's in the early stages so I imagine if it takes off it won't be long before it's on Android and the Windows Phone.

 

Friday
Jul052013

Need a phone as rugged as yourself?

  Nowadays our phones are as much a part of our daily personal affects as our wallet or car keys.  So, when we go out, be it a night on the town, a bike ride, hiking, camping, an amusement park, or a day at the beach, our phones are with us.  Conveinence being main reason.  We have a phone, camera, computer, and music player all in one device, a rather expensive one at that.  So how do we protect it?  We leave it in our car, bag, or pocket.  We purchase cases, bulky, expensive cases.  We purchase extended warranties.  Instead of purchasing aftermarket protection, why not purchase a phone that comes with protection from the manufacturer?

  While there have been 'rugged' offerings from manufacturers in the past, they have been bulky, feature poor, had short battery life.  Thanks to Samsung and Sony, there now exists two fantastic options.  The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active and the Sony Xperia Z.

Both of these phones have roughly the same measurements, with the Sony being about a quarter of an inch taller.  Both have a 5" Hi-def 1080p screen, and a quad core processor, the Samsung being faster than the Sony, 1.9 GHz and 1.5 GHz respectively.  Both have 2 GB of RAM for speed launching of applications and two cameras, the Sony has a higher resolution camera at 13.1 megapixels versus the Samsung's 8.  When it comes to the battery, the Samsug has the larger capacity at 2600 mAh versus the Sony's 2230.

Which phone should you purchase?  That will depend upon your personal preference.  Both of these phones have the Android operating system, Samsung running v4.2.2 and Sony v4.1, with a manufacturer specific interface.  No matter which one you choose, both phones are incredibly impressive and provide the user protection against the elements. 

Wednesday
Jul032013

Google Flights

When booking travel, we all know about Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity & Hotwire.  A lesser known tool to find the cheapest flight available comes from Google.  Google Flights pulls airline ticket data into a readable graph that helps to immediatly identify the least expensive tickets available.  

The sample graph below shows the peaks and valleys in airline ticket prices for a one-way flight from Denver to Chicago.  

Even if you aren't flying soon, this is a cool service to check out.

LINK: https://www.google.com/flights/ 

Thursday
Apr042013

My App Picks for International (Video) Calling/Texting

With today's technology, I wasn't surprised when I recently started researching different options to text and/or talk (video or the "old-fashioned" way) free, or cheap, while traveling internationally. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the amount of cheap and free options that work great while traveling internationally so I have broken these top options down for you:

Skype:

The "granddaddy" of video calling apps with millions of users.  Skype users can call each other for free and non-users can chat relatively cheap internationally using VoIP.  Skype To Go give you an 800 number that you can call from any phone to make international calls on Skype rates, and a feature that's especially nice for international use is the capability to get an online number, with voicemail, that anyone call call, and the call is forwarded to your Skype.  It is platform/device-agnostic.  The only downside to Skype is that the audio quality on VoIP isn't great, and there are cheaper options out there for calling rates.

 

Google Voice:

Google Voice, like Skype, has brand awareness and is platform/device-agnostic.  It's free to text to US and Canadian mobile phones and they offer cheap international calling rates; however, it is still only available to users in the US, nowhere else, and it doesn't yet support MMS.  It also doesn't offer a complete VoIP solution, which means calls you make still use minutes from your plan.

 

Tango:

A lesser-known, free, platform/device-agnostic app that can be used for text messages/chats and/or video calls. I personally use this one when traveling to Mexico with family because it doesn't bog down the memory on my phone (AKA drain my battery), it's easy to use, and all you need is an Internet connection to speak or chat with anyone in the world for free. I haven't found a con to this app yet.

 

FaceTime and/or iMessage:

iPhone-specific:  If both you and the person you would like to communicate with have iPhones, you can use iMessage to text and FaceTime to video chat for free, as long as you both have an Internet connection.

 

 

WhatsApp:

 

 

WhatsApp is an up-and-coming app for 99 cents that is also platform and device-agnostic.  It only allows texting, but it's free across phones around the world.  What I've really enjoyed about this app is that it allows MMS, and it shows you when your message was delievered to the recipient, as well as when they read it.  That is great for texting with people in different timezones.  You can also do group messages.  It never uses data from your plan or charges you extra because it waits to deliver the message until the recipient has an Internet connection.

 

Wednesday
Apr032013

SIRI-ously? You can do what?

For iPhone and iPad users with Siri, I have one question, “How often do you use her?”

Siri is a highly-underrated iOS utility.

To activate Siri, hold down the home button and a microphone in a bubble will appear.  From here, ask her any question, or request that she do something.

“Create a lunch appointment with Andy at Noon on Friday.”

“What’s the weather going to be like this week?”

“Send an email (or text) to John asking him when the project will be done.”

“Tell me a joke.”

"Read me my messages."

Another great feature is having Siri remind you of something based on your location.  It works using Geo-Tagging, which is the ability to automatically add GPS data to an event, whether it be a photo, Facebook post, checking-in to a venue, etc. 

For instance, if you tell Siri, “Remind me to pickup dinner when I leave work.” If you add your work address to your personal contact, your phone will detect when you leave work that day, and it will notify you to pick up dinner.

These examples are just a drop in the bucket of Siri's abilities.  For more information, ask Siri "What can you do?", or check out Apple's Siri website.