Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why Do Cell Phone Conversations Annoy Us Sometimes? Scientists Might Know the Answer…

annoying cell phone conversationsSo scientists think that they have now discovered why you might get completely annoyed when you overhear someone’s cell phone conversation. Scientists from Cornell University say that it takes more concentration and attention to listen to half of a conversation instead of just overhearing two people talking.

Lauren Emberson, a co-author of the study that is set to be published in the Psychological Science magazine, says, “We have less control to move away our attention from half a conversation (or halfalogue) than when listening to a dialogue…Since halfalogues really are more distracting and you can't tune them out, this could explain why people are irritated.”

It was recorded this year that the amount of minutes that Americans spend talking on their cell phones has increased over ninefold since 2000. Last year Americans spent over 2.3 trillion minutes talking on their cell phones.

According to the U.N. agency, the International Telecommunications Union, there are over 4.6 billion cell phone subscribers throughout the world. This is equivalent to about two-thirds of the world’s population. This means that there are very few corners of the world that aren’t plagued by the chatter of cell phone users.

China and India lead the polls in terms of the number of cell phone users that they have. China has 634 million users, India has 545 million, and the United States has 270 million.

Emberson says that the reason that people get so annoyed with cell phone conversations is because they try to make sense of little snippets of the conversation and then predict what the speaker will most likely say next. She states, "When you hear half of a conversation, you get less information and you can't predict as well…it requires more attention."

All of the information that Emberson and her co-author and fellow researcher Michael Goldstein collected was based off of a study that they conducted with 41 college students. They had them perform different concentration exercises while hearing either one or both parties who were having a conversation on their cell phone.

After the experiment was conducted, it was concluded that students made more errors when they only heard one side of a conversation. Emberson says that this shows how overhearing a cell phone conversation can cause disruption to our every day tasks and, that includes driving. She states, "These results suggest that a driver's attention can be impaired by a passenger's cell phone conversation."

I felt that this study that was conducted was extremely interesting. Now I have a better understanding of why I get annoyed when people around me are on their cell phones sometimes. When I really think about it, it is because I’m trying to guess what the person on the other end of the conversation is saying, and I’m attempting to predict what the speaker will say next. The only thing that the study didn’t come up with was a solution to tune the halfalogue out. So I guess for now we will all have to continue to be annoyed by cell phone conversation and do our best not to be too annoyed.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nokia Updates N900

Nokia N900For all of you Nokia N900 owners out there I have some news for you: there is a new software update headed your way being released to the fine folks in the UK today and to the rest of the global community tomorrow. This new update, entitles Version 1.2, is coming to us offering a wide range of enhancements to the already packed Maemo5 mobile computer.

First on the list of new features are new games on the Ovi store. Such titles coming to your N900 include Jurassic 3D Rollercoaster, Zen-bound, Angry Birds (level pack), Sygic, Kroll, Weatherbug and GoGadget. These games will not show up until Thursday, May 27th, however, when Ovi store does a full switch over.

The next improvement coming via the update is for communications. The e-mail system has been greatly improved giving you the ability to accept or decline an event invitation right from your inbox. Facebook and IM chat has also been bundled in with this as well. Video calling has also been added allowing users face-to-face chatting anywhere, anytime.

Here is a tasty bit of info that will be sure to tickle your fancy. Portrait browsing on the internet is officially a-go on the N900. Ovi maps also get the updated treatment housing changes to the user interface which improves the experience of finding your way around. Finally rounding out the update is a change to the menu system user interface with the first level no completely customizable.

After much talk, Nokia has claimed that they will MeeGo will not be officially supported on the N900 once the Intel/Nokia OS is ready. Nokia has said that it will continue to support the core Maemo OS has shown by this most recent update. On the other hand, we have seen the N900 overclocked and hacked to run OS X and Android so it is likely that the active fan-base will deliver a MeeGo update of their own, unofficially.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tethering Support Coming to iPhone 4.0

iPhone Tethering Coming to OS 4.0Since its announcement last summer AT&T has failed to activate its tethering feature leaving Americans little to do except listen to Australians and Europeans talk about how awesome the feature is or, for more ambitious iPhone owners, take matters into their own hands and jailbreak their phones. However, the next beta (fourth to be exact) of the iPhone 4.0 OS promises many new features and may finally enable Internet tethering to customers in the United States. The picture to your left, which sprang up out of a developer’s forum, is clear evidence that Internet tethering through the iPhone will likely now be supported with the release of OS 4.0. The screen informs AT&T customers that they need to contact the carrier or go to their web site in order to activate the feature.

Tethering is a function that lets users hook up their mobile phones and use them as modems in order to share internet connectivity with other devices over a USB, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth connection. The process would let you connect your phone to your computer, or any other wireless enabled device, and access the Internet through AT&T's 3G network as part of your wireless data plan. The iPhone received this feature in June 2009 with the release of iPhone OS 3.0 but AT&T had not enabled the feature over concerns that it would overwhelm the carrier's network. That AT&T would decide to release tethering support now comes on the heels of the forthcoming pitched sales battle between Verizon and AT&T for the souls of iPhone subscribers and the fact that AT&T has made substantial investments in the past six months to their wireless networks.

Few details have since arisen about tethering leaving many to wonder about pricing and details of data plans. "You'll see a pricing plan of at least $20 per month for a person to enable tethering on their account" speculates Chris Hazelton, research director, mobile and wireless, at The 451 Group. He ventures that such a pricing plan would limit demand so the carrier won't see such a large impact on its data networks nor as much hacking.

Other changes found in the latest iPhone OS 4.0 beta include a default folder for utility apps, new wallpaper images, group messaging options and even an orientation lock for the Camera Roll. Apple's site says iPhone OS 4 will include over 100 new user features for the iPhone and iPod touch, along with a new software development kit for the creation of new apps. The iPhone OS 4 is scheduled to ship this summer for the iPhone and iPod touch and in the fall for the iPad.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Voice Navigation with Bing Maps

bing maps voice navigationMicrosoft has recently announced that they have just added voice navigation to their Bing maps for Windows Mobile 6.x phones. This feature allows for turn-by-turn, voice-enables directions.

The company stated that Bing directions will have a new Navigate button that will calculate routes for users and guide the user through the entirety of the drive. It will also offer users the option of picking the fastest or shortest route, while still taking into consideration traffic issues and toll roads. It will also allow users to see arrows on their phone while also being verbally alerted when an turn is coming up.

There are a whole range of devices that the new voice navigated Bing maps will work on. Some of these include the HTC HD2 and the Motorola Q9c. Any Windows phone on Sprint, T-Mobile, or AT&T can utilize the navigation.

They have also redesigned the home page to give people easier, quicker access to searches like traffic and movies.

These updates for Windows phones are a welcome change and boost these phones closer to the more feature-filled cell phones. I think it’s a great improvement from Microsoft.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Cellphones Are Making Landlines Obsolete

cellphones vs landlinesU.S. reporters stated on Wednesday that about twenty-five percent of U.S. homes have abandoned their landlines and taken to just utilizing their cellphones. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has also found that about fifteen percent of household who do have the standard landlines with plug-in phones almost never use them.

The NCHS, which is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost completely depends on telephone surveys to gather their information about the American public’s health. This decrease in use of landlines could cause some problems with their information gathering.

Some of the information that the NCHS collected shows some interesting implications for the cellphone industry in America. The data was taken from 21,375 different households across America. 40,619 of those surveyed were adults and 14,984 were children were under the age of 18.

The reports stated that, "One of every four American homes (24.5 percent) had only wireless telephones (also known as cellular telephones, cellphones, or mobile phones) during the last half of 2009 -- an increase of 1.8 percentage points since the first half of 2009. In addition, one of every seven American homes (14.9 percent) had a land line yet received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones."

Almost 52 million Americans live in a household that only utilizes cellphones. The study also found that nearly half of adults aged 25 to 29 lived in a household that doesn’t use a landline.

Honestly, this information does not come as a shock to me. It’s crazy how much people use there cell phones. Really what’s the point of a landline for young adults? Some people, like my grandparents, hold on to their landlines and appreciate their simplicity. In the next few decades, I believe that the use of landlines is likely to almost disappear. Everything is going cellular. It’s so much easier to the younger generations. Although these statistics may seem drastic, expect to see the numbers rising even more in the future.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sprint: First 4G Phone Coming June 4th

Sprint: First 4G Phone Coming June 4th
The wait is over. If you've been itching to get your hands on a 4G phone, you only have a few more weeks to start saving $199. Sprint Nextel announced today that it would be selling the most high-speed mobile phone ever on June 4th of this year. The company has a lost a number of customers over the years to rivals like AT&T and Verizon and hopes the new technology will be just the boost it needs to change that.

The EVO, as mentioned, will be the first phone in the United States that supports fourth-generation high-speed data speeds, and experts say it's going to give the iPhone a little competition. The 4G iPhone is expected to come out this summer, but much later than Sprint's new phone. Vodafone Group is expected to offer a 4G phone in 2011.

The appeal of the phone is definitely the faster internet access. In addition, these phones will have large screens and two cameras. Unfortunately, 4G coverage isn't exactly widespread throughout the country. Areas such as New York won't even get 4G until after the summer. Clearwire Corp, Sprints venture that is building the WiMax-based network, says it will only cover about 40 million people in the United States for now and expects to triple that by the end of the year. The current U.S. population is around 300 million. Sprint will also be charging a $10 monthly fee for EVO users, regardless of whether or not they're running in a 3G or 4G market.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse calls the difference between 3G and 4G "night an day," and says even without the 4G capability, the EVO stands alone as being an exceptional phone. He said the phone will be the highest-spec phone on the markets for customers using 3G as well. The company also says that users will be able to make the most of the two cameras, which will support the first mobile two-way video conferencing service. According to Sprint, they have a long list of customers, waiting to buy the buy the phone.

Matt Carter, the head of Sprint's 4G business told Reuters that he believes the phone will appeal to consumers for a number of reasons and mentioned it would definitely be great for social networkers. He also mentioned that Sprint will release a second WiMax phone later this year and that Sprint is in talks with companies like Samsung and General Electric to consider putting WiMax connections in a number of consumer devices such as e-Readers, cameras, washing machines, and even medical equipment. Carter said Sprint is trying not to think like a "traditional carrier."

Sprint will also be launching a new prepaid service that will be aimed at older phone users who shop at Wal-mart. They're calling it a "no nonsense" mobile phone service for those whfo aren't really worried about having the latest trends. Upon making these announcements yesterday, Sprint's stock climbed, a good sign for the company who has been struggling for quite some time.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

AT&T’s 5-Year Apple iPhone Contract Finally Confirmed

att apple iphone contractAlthough Apple’s iPhone is an extremely popular device there is a major complaint about it. The iPhone is only available through AT&T, which is generally known as the network with the most dropped calls. I can definitely confirm this accusation. The two years that I was stuck with AT&T’s service were horrible. I’ve never had so many dropped calls before.

There have been rumors for quite some time that AT&T had a 5-year exclusive agreement with Apple to secure the iPhone with their service, but not until now has there been complete confirmation of this rumor. There has even been an ongoing class-action lawsuit in California that claims that AT&T and Apple have created an illegal monopoly with the exclusivity of the iPhone.

Now that the original iPhone has been released for about three years, proof has finally surfaced to confirm the rumors that have been circling lately. Engadet states: "[The accused monopoly was established] by telling customers the iPhone's required service contract was two years long when the Apple / AT&T exclusivity deal was actually for five years--thus requiring buyers to re-up with AT&T for three years (and not, say, T-Mobile) if they wanted to keep using the iPhone."

In response, AT&T and Apple say, “The duration of the exclusive Apple-[AT&T] agreement was not 'secret' either.” They quote from a May 21, 2007 USA Today article, that was published over a month before the iPhone's release, that states, "AT&T has exclusive U.S. distribution rights for five years-an eternity in the go-go cellphone world."

Unfortunately, it seems that there is not really anything that iPhone users can do. They just going to be stuck with AT&T service for the next couple years. Once the AT&T/iPhone contract is up, it will be really interesting the see who wins the fight over the rights to Apple’s iPhone.
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