Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Jolla Phone and it's New Sailfish OS

These days it seems like the smartphone game is already over. You either have an Apple iPhone, maybe a select few Android phones, or you just don't have a phone at all. Companies like Microsoft aren't doing so well with their Windows Phone attempts, and BlackBerry has all but fallen off the map completely. Is it really a great idea to launch a new phone with a completely new operating system in this day and age? Jolla doesn't seem to be worried about it at all.

Jolla, a company from Finland, brings their new Sailfish operating system to the table. The new OS even supports a ton of Android apps. That, paired with the fun-colored, case swapping phone, makes a lot of people think that the Jolla Phone is going to make an impact on the smartphone market and show the other companies how to do it right.

The Jolla phone is being shipped out right now to those who pre-ordered it in Europe. No word on when it will be available anywhere else yet.

Taking a look at the design of the phone, the first thing you notice is the distinctive two tone look. It kind of looks like two phones stuck together, taking it back to the old days when people used to go to flea markets and buy whole new cases for their phones and be the coolest kid on the block. Other than that, the front and the back separately are really simplistic, taking the same kind of approach we see on Apple products.

The colorful back panels are interchangeable. The panels have NFC chips in them so that when you snap one on, it can change the themes and settings on your phone accordingly to match its new look. The cool/not cool thing about it (depending on how you look at it) is that because the chips link to your Jolla account, you won't be able to swap or trade with friends. It's pretty neat I suppose, I'm just not sure anyone cares about making their phone lime green anymore. Most people I know use cases that would cover it up anyway.

The display is 4.5 inches with a 960x540 pixel resolution. I'm not sure why they chose to skimp on this. The resolution is way below industry standard, and even the Motorola Moto G has a higher 720p resolution with a $179 price tag. So, I can't wrap my mind around that one.

Everything else about it is pretty standard. It's not the lightest phone on the market, nor is it the slimmest. At 131mm long, 68mm wide and 9.9mm, thick its not that hateful, and probably still very comfortable to hold. It also comes standard with 16GB of storage, and has a Micro SD slot for adding more.

As for the Jolla's new Sailfish OS, it is basically an upgraded version of the MeeGo software that came on the Nokia N9. It has a lot of similarities to the old software, but it functions very different and has gone the complete opposite direction from the Android operating system or iOS. One huge difference is that there are no navigation buttons. Getting around on the device is a little bit more involved. A double tap wakes the phone up and shows you notifications. Swipe up and you'll see your recent apps and keep swiping up to make your way to a grid of app icons. To return to the home screen, swipe in from the left and it will place the app in a multi-tasking panel. When going through menus or text message conversations, simply swiping back will return you to the previous page. A swipe up from below the screen shows a notifications panel. Could be a little confusing at first.

The multi-tasking panel shows you up to nine apps that you can switch to pretty easily, while four apps sit below for accessing tools quickly. Unlike Android, there are no big widgets on the home screen at all.

Once again with the minimalist styling, you'll see the least amount of text possible and rounded app icons. Contrary to what you would think though, previous iOS users will probably have a hard time adapting, as it is not as simple as it looks. A quick user guide is included though if you have any trouble, going over all of the basic gestures to get you to where you need to be.

The app selection for the new operating system is one of the drawbacks. There is almost no app support from any developer. BlackBerry has always been plagued with the same issue, along with Windows Phone. Windows Phone just recently got Instagram! The one thing that gives the Jolla Phone the advantage over BlackBerry and Windows Phone is that it is possible to run Android apps. You can't access Google Play from the phone, but there are plenty of third party app stores where you can pick up apps like Spotify, Skype, Facebook and twitter. You can't get all of the same apps that you'd generally find on Google Play on an Android phone, and no one knows how many apps are available for Jolla yet. One thing we can count on though, you will have a better selection than BlackBerry either way.

The available apps will run exactly how they would on any standard Android device. On screen virtual navigation keys are located below the display to help you get around, but returning home requires a quick swipe from the left. There is a reported issue with the phone always taking you back to the previously opened Android app before loading the new one that you click. This is probably necessary because the apps are being "virtualized" rather than running natively, kind of like an emulator. There is a delay before the app opens, which could get annoying.

The processor is a dual core 1.4GHz and is powerful enough to offer smooth casual performance. The batter is a 2,100mAh which is said to give you about 9 hours of talk time. The phone also comes with an 8 megapixel camera and LTE connectivity.

Overall, the Jolla Phone has some neat qualities. It kind of seems like a glorified N9, but I guess I'll find out for sure when the phone comes to the states.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

US carriers say no to Samsung's kill switch

Mobile providers in the United States have completely rejected Samsung's idea and proposal to load all smartphones sold in this country with theft deterrent software.

Samsung's idea was to pre-load all of their phones with Lojack for Android, which would completely eliminate their value in the secondary market in case of theft if it were made standard on all devices.

"We are evaluating what course of action will be necessary to pressure the wireless industry to prioritize the safety of their customers," said San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascon.

Carriers do not approve

CTIA-The Wireless Association in June outlined its opposition to kill switches in a report to the Federal Communications Commission.

The idea is that once installed, the kill switch would brick a mobile device and make it impossible to be reactivated or used in any way. More so, hackers could actually make spoof kill commands and take out large groups of phones at a time. That would mean that they could even target groups like the Department of Defense or any law enforcement group.

The installation of a kill switch on a mobile device could also increase the risk of denial of service attacks and make it way easier to discover the kill command.

But, Apple's iOS7 operating system has a kill switch, the Activation Lock, which has drawn in strong support from law enforcement.

A flaw in Siri lets users bypass the lock screen.

Apple can get away with this because they control the OS and the device, and because carriers pretty much know how important the iPhone is to have in their lineup, no matter what.

The Wireless Industry's Defense

"CTIA and its member companies worked hard over the last year to help law enforcement with its stolen phone problem," says Jamie Hastings, the organization's vice president.

These efforts include the creation of an integrated database designed to keep stolen phones from being reactivated, which is scheduled for release on the 30th of this month.

But the database only works for 4G/LTE devices.

"The database is a smoke screen," Gascón growled. "A similar database in the UK was not effective, and since it was implemented last year, the number of smartphone thefts has only gone up."

It does not any lost or stolen smartphones that end up being shipped to other countries.

However, "as more countries and more carriers around the world participate in the database, criminals will have fewer outlets for their stolen devices," Hastings made sure to point out.

The CTIA also offers apps that you can download to remotely erase and track a stolen device. These can be found here.

Samsung Keeps Pushing

Samsung says that they take the issue of stolen smartphones very seriously. They say that they are going to continue to work with their wireless carrier partners to get to their common goal of stopping the theft of smartphones.

Apparently, emails between a Samsung executive and a software developer have indicated the carriers were concerned that the kill switch would cut into their profits from insurance that they sell in order to cover lost or stolen smartphones.

But then again, would carriers offer accessories like cases and scratch protectors if they were so worried about the 5 to 10 dollars per month for insurance?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Samsung Plans To Release Three-Sided Display Smartphone

By Erika Blasko - As Samsung continues to face their first annual decline, new ideas are hard to come by with new smartphone advances. But, as of next year Samsung Electronics plans to release a new smartphone concept that includes a three-sided display screen. Samsung says they plan to have each side of the three screens work independently so that multitasking is a breeze.

The new phone will be using a brand new upgraded technology called 'Youm,' that has already been seen in the Galaxy Round phone. Youm was currently filed for a U.S trademark application by Samsung. The three-sided display may be used in the S or Note Samsung handset series, or may be the first to create a new line of smartphones. Although Samsung and Apple are working to introduce curved screens at the same time, there is no definite sign that this will appeal to consumers when it hits the stores as both companies brace for a downfall in high-tech smartphone sales.

Samsung does not have a set release date as to when their version of the three-sided display screen Galaxy smartphone will be released. Although predictions are unclear, Samsung predicts it is more than likely to launch during the end of next year.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Siri All Grown Up

Calling all iPhone users! Your trusty sidekick, Siri, has a message for you all! She is all grown up now! Thats right! Siri has now officially been deemed by Apple to be all "grown up", or in other words, completed. Many of us iPhone users believed our assistive AI friend to be working fine and already and had no more real room for improvement. Well, as luck would have it we were wrong!

So for those of us who may not know who or what Siri is, she is the artificially intelligent assistive voice command software installed with the Apple iPhone 3GS, and every other Apple mobile device to come thereafter. Now what could be a clearer designation of this software being "finished", when we already thought it was? The absence of the word "Beta" from the bottom of Siri's page on the Apple website is pretty clear sign. That and the fact that Siri now has more intuitive applications by means of integrating Twitter and Wikipedia for its search results is also a very nice new touch to see from our old friend.

So far, this new version of Siri is shaping up to be a very nice upgrade from her previous capabilities, but I suppose I should just say "she", because iPhone owners will now be able to pick the gender of Siri as well. With all of the updates that have come through with Siri and iOS7, it is pretty safe to say that Apple is still pushing the top of the tech food chain. "Simplicity" and "easy to use" have always been phrases that Apple means to adhere to, and Siri is no exception. For fans and new comers alike, Siri is at your service.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Real Life Emoticons

There has been a consistent problem with sending texts messages to your friends and loved one this day in age. It is not always easy to understand how a text should be understood, or what type of emotion it is trying to convey. Now the help of "emoji's" in text messages, or smiley faces, it is easy to convey emotion. Sometimes it is just not enough though. Well that is where a research team at the University of Cambridge that is hard at work trying to make sure that this because a worry of the past.

The University is actually working to make spoken text evoke emotions through a visual 3D avatar of yourself speaking it with the desired emotion attached to the speech. Sounds crazy right? In a video demonstrating the use of the program though, it seemed to work out very well, considering the stage of development it is still in. The University issued a statement further explaining how the use of the emotion sliders could be used in conjunction with one another to add an almost infinite realm of emotions to the speech. The actress who performed all of the some 7,000 sentences in the dialogue capture, is named Zoe, and her avatar is hoping to be the face of the new AI assistants that are coming too nearly every mobile gadget nowadays.

With Siri still holding the hierarchy position of 
everyone's favorite digital helper, it will be hard to spearhead through the competition. The research this team is conducting has the ability to change the way we text and evoke emotion electronically forever. It is really shaping up to be something that could work with Apple and Siri as well, should the circumstances permit. Plus having a digitized version of your face as a personal assistant or as a means to just have the person you are texting see your facial features while the assistant is saying them with the implied emotion could be very cool!... Or very creepy. Either way, keep an eye out for this software in the future as it will definitely be game changing!

Monday, September 23, 2013

5 hardest tech gadgets to repair

Recently, the repair commandos at shared with us their list of the 10 easiest-to-repair electronics. It's a useful list if you want to know which gadgets you can service on your own. But if it's controversy and indignation you want, this is the week you've been waiting for! Here are iFixit's top five hardest-to-repair laptops and tablets.

We have to wonder what the late Steve Jobs (who was so obsessive about making his gadgets user-friendly) would think to see a whopping four Apple products filling out iFixit's list of the least repairable laptops and tablets. Not surprisingly, a few of the top slots are taken up by the line of environmentally unfriendly Macbook Pros with Retina Display, which iFixit boss Kyle Wiens once slammed as "designed to fail."
It’s a no-brainer for someone looking to repair their own gear who isn’t a certified and extremely patient electronics genius what NOT to buy. That is, unless one intends to keep it only as long as the warranty stays in effect.

1. Apple MacBook Pro Ivy Bridge Core i7 2.3GHz 15" Laptop with Retina Display Microsoft Surface
iFixit Verdict: "Proprietary pentalobe screws, soldered and non-upgradeable RAM, a proprietary SSD, and a glued-in battery make the 15" Retina Pro the least repairable laptop we've ever seen."
Fixability Score: 1

2. Pro Ivy Core i5 1.7GHz 10.6" Windows 8 Tablet
iFixit Verdict: "The Surface Pro's display assembly is incredibly hard to remove, sealed in place with tons of adhesive. Once you have the cover removed, there are more than 90 screws inside to keep you from the rest of the components."
Fixability Score: 1

3. Apple MacBook Pro Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 3GHz 13.3" Retina Display Laptop
Category: Laptop
iFixit Verdict: "Slightly better than its 15" predecessor, the MacBook Pro Retina 13" still features a glued-in battery, proprietary screws and SSD, and soldered-in RAM."
Fixability Score: 2

4. Apple iPad mini WiFi Tablet
iFixit Verdict: "Components are held in place with either copious amounts of adhesive or tape, or incredibly tiny and easy-to-lose screws. Especially annoying, the Lightning connector is soldered to the logic board, so broken connector pins will mean replacing the entire assembly."
Fixability Score: 2

5. Apple iPad with Retina Display WiFi Tablet 
iFixit Verdict: "Just like in second and third generation iPads, loads of adhesive secure the screen and battery to the case. This makes it difficult to open the device for repairs, and especially difficult to remove the battery to install a replacement."
Fixability Score: 2

So what are your gadget repair horror stories, and which items belong on this list (or don't) based on your experience? If nothing else, the presence of four Apple items here, we would hope, should serve as a wake-up call to Apple CEO Tim Cook: Make your products more repairable, and thus less likely to wind up in landfills. In the meantime, learn all about the gizmos you can overhaul all by yourself, complete with how-to guides and instructions, at

It seems wise to me that if my intention is to use my tablet or laptop exclusively for work, play, research, dating or any other use I prefer to get from it OTHER than to work on repairing it, that I would be deliberately making a strenuous effort to be looking in other directions than the venues liberating these devices from their shelves, storerooms or distribution centers.

Source: Dealnews top ten electronic devices almost impossible to repair by Lou Carlozo 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

iOS7 Has Finally Arrived

Well ladies and gentlemen, it is finally here! The new iOS7 update has finally arrived, and with that being said, a lot of readers out there may be wondering what the capabilities and nuances of Apple's latest operating system are. So is it really THAT much of a step up from the last iOS? Lets find out.

Aside from a typical boost in performance rate and stability, as is the case with many an update, a few key features will include improvements to the photo album feature, multitasking features, and upgrades to our ol' pal Siri's search functions. The new operating system is also giving iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users and complete aesthetic overhaul. While many users may be very family with the "black background" type look, the new presentation has a more clean "white" almost quirky look to it now that many Apple users, both old and new, should have no problem adjusting to.

With all the hype leading up to the release, there were some that were not as enthused with the new design as others were. The response from a few critics at the WWDC this year was mixed overall. But then again, now that it is finally here, we can begin to see some actual reviews from the higher ups and everyday users alike. Either way, this definitely looks to be a very defining new update for Apple, so fanboys should definitely rejoice.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone

Microsoft may have missed out when the smartphone craze began, but now it appears Windows Phone 8 might have a future after all. It turns out that 52 percent of consumers who picked up a Windows smartphone had previously owned a feature phone. In contrast, 55 percent of iPhone customers and 51 percent of Android customers are coming from another smartphone.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blackberry Z10 Bursting Into the Samsung vs iPhone Debate

Time to consider a new mobile phone upgrade.  The fierce debate between Samsung Galaxy III and iPhone 4 (I went with the iPhone 4 because reviews haven't been too hot on the iPhone 5) caused me to really think about my next choice of phone.  So I decided to do a side by side comparison of the two phones.  All was going great until a couple of weeks ago when the new buzz was about Blackberry's Z10.  The Blackberry Z10 or RIM is set to be officially launched at the end of January 2013.  Information leaks are giving us a small glimpse into some of its features.  A few of the highlights are things like 70,000 apps and 20 million songs available for download at launch!  The screen has a 356 dpi resolution and a Qualcomm S4 processor.

Business Insider's Steve Kovach gives us a more in-depth peek at the new Blackberry Z10.  I think one of the coolest new features is the time-shifting camera that gives you the ability to change the faces of someone if they blink.  TechnoBuffalo demonstrates some of the features of the new Blackberry phone at CES 2013.

I thought I was pretty sure about my upgrade choice, but now the decision just got a little more complicated.  After January 30, the real comparison shopping can begin, but the cost will have to be factored in.  It would be nice if the Z10 was in the same general ballpark as the iPhone 4 and the Samsung Galaxy III.

Should you need additional communication technology for your next corporate or marketing event, you might consider Nextel or 2-way radio rentals.
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