Thursday, April 30, 2015

Google Debuts New Fi Wireless Service

Photo Credit: Kachwanya
Google finally announced their wireless phone service called Fi. The service will cost $20 per month for unlimited talk and texting plus $10 per gigabyte of data used. It's a little bit cheaper than your standard phone service plan.

The downside is that if you use 7GB or more regularly, then a normal phone plan with T-Mobile or Sprint would be cheaper than Fi. The upside is that Google will only charge you for the data you use each month, no matter which plan you end up going with. For example, if you were to pay $30 for 3GB and only use 1.4 GB, then at the end of the month you'd receive a refund for $16. No U.S. carriers offer these rebates, the closest you can get is going with rollover minutes with your standard phone carriers. Google is just trying to have a service that makes it easier on us to surf the web at a cheap price. Fi also works over Wi-Fi networks if there's no cellular coverage available.

Something I don't like about Fi is that you can't use your normal smartphones, like Apple or Samsung. These phones won't be compatible with Fi at first. The only phone you can get is a Google Nexus 6 phone that starts at about $649 or $27 a month for 24 months. Motorola did come out with a Nexus 6, with a 6-inch screen, which is bigger than your typical smartphone, but not as good of a phone as an iPhone or Galaxy S6. Still, Google's plans are cheaper than your standard services provided by AT&T and Verizon, two of the largest, broader network coverage carriers in the country.

The Fi service is also providing inexpensive international features, like unlimited international texting. Just like the U.S., data will cost $10 per GB in 120 major countries like Japan, Germany, and India. Also a plus side if you or anyone you know either travels a lot or is in the marines and also across seas.

Google is buying their wireless service from T-Mobile and Sprint, which isn't appealing to me at all. In my opinion, Sprint and T-Mobile are two of the worst phone carriers available. But I can see why they are doing it this way. It saves Google from having to buy an airwave license and start a national network from nothing. And for T-Mobile or Sprint, it gives them more traffic on their networks without having to worrying about any risks. T-Mobile shares were up 2.1% and Sprint 1.7% with Google shares up 1.3% after they announced the new Fi service.

The prices may not be as low as anticipated, but it still is a good plan to consider. Especially if you already have services with T-Mobile or Sprint and are willing to buy from the limited phones you have to choose from. For now, I'm going to stick with my AT&T service and basic smartphone. I'm sure this isn't the last we will hear of this. Next time around, they'll have more options, phones, and services to pick from.

Content originally published here

Monday, April 27, 2015

Prototype Haptic Interfaces Allow Touch Communication Between People

Touch-based interfaces are a modality the MIT Media Lab is working on. Haptics, the science of touch, derives from the Greek haptikos meaning “being able to come into contact with.” At MIT, the Tangible Media Group is researching and working on new materials for human-computer interfaces. Some change shape and rigidity based on digital inputs.

Some of the upsides of haptic interfaces is that they are very fast to read, they can be put into everyday objects or motions, and our sense of touch since it is the best way to express human emotion. MIT has made a Lumi Touch, which is a picture frame that sends a colored glow to the person who has the other picture frame, when you squeeze each side of the frame. Each color can have different meanings for whatever color-mapping you and your significant other create. Proverbial Wallets works with Bank of America, to make your ordinary leather wallet harder to open as you exceed your monthly budget. These are just 2 examples of their prototypes, but haptic interfaces will soon be for sale to everyone.

Smartstones are a more personal haptic interface, that looks like a smooth, palm-sized, river stone. It allows you and your significant other to communicate through gesture, touch, light, and sound. They're designed for any type of intimate relationship, say it be best friends, parent to child, elderly parents, or even caregivers. Our touch communication is designed for us to process information quickly, it allows us to talk without typing or speaking.

In a classic perceptual psychology experiment, pairs of strangers were tested on communicating emotions through touch alone. One person from a pair was given one of 12 emotions, therefore when the decoder would be touched on the forearm, they'd have to tell you what emotion they thought their partner was trying to communicate. Some examples of how emotions were expressed; fear was associated with trembling, sympathy was associated with stroking and patting, disgust was associated with a pushing motion, and anger was associated with hitting and squeezing. The outcome of the experiment showed that people could interpret fear, disgust, anger, love, sympathy, and gratitude at above-chance levels.

Just a simple touch of hands between my boyfriend and I, can send emotions or communication between us. Our skin processes subconsciously. Smartstones have the potential to give off the same messages at a distance, decreasing social isolation and lets not forget, being a slave to your smartphone.

Photo Credit: TechCrunch
MIT products are great examples of the mass improvement from smartphone apps to haptic interface objects. Human-computer interfaces have improved with anywhere from WiFi-connected thermostats and mirrors, to bluetooth jewelry and light bulbs. What's having every product company consider a cloud-connected product is the falling cost of microchips, WiFi being available just about anywhere, and the continuous income from converting objects into services.

Nowadays, most commonly used for logging or visualizing data is social media. Smartstones is the next step up in communicating at a more personal and close level of non-verbal communication. As touch interfaces develop, they will provide us with more sense of a safer, closer, nonverbal communication from a distance, with a speedy and effective outcome.

Content originally published here

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

More Storage Space for iPad Mini, iPhone 6 with Mophie's Space Cases

Since the release of the "Space Pack," Mophie has put out a new line of products for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPad Mini. They've also came out with a new battery pack called the "Spacestation." They all look pretty much like any of the already existing battery solutions, but they range anywhere from 32GB to 128 GB of flash storage, which is good for those who have a 16GB iPhone or iPad Mini. The iPhone Space Packs and the Spacestation start at $150 for 32GB of storage, and jump up to $200 for 64GB and $300 for 128GB. The iPad Mini pack, meanwhile, runs from $200 to $400.

The new cases still work with the Mophie's Space app, just like the old one, which lets you store and play media. The app allows you to create playlists with media on iOS devices and the Space case, as well as the company updating the app for iPhone uses to manage files you already have.

The iPhone 6 case will double your battery life, while the iPhone 6 Plus case will give you 50 percent more of a battery, which is basically giving you the same option with the new cases. If you'd prefer not to get a case, the Spacestation still can fully recharge an iPad mini and plug into multiple devices and smartphones.

If you're familiar with Mophie's products then the new cases and battery packs won't feel any differently to you. Personally, the Spacestation's metal case is the best feeling case in hand. The company's first battery case for a tablet was the iPad Mini Space Case, which only added a little thickness to the Mini. If you use a lot of media storage on your iOS then this is one of your only options for additional storage without going to wireless hard drives or the cloud for help.

Content originally published here

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Best from Mobile World Congress 2015

Mobile World Congress took place a couple of months ago, debuting the newest devices from some of the biggest mobile phone manufacturers in the world. This year's conference was a little underwhelming compared to previous years, though there were some major announcements from big companies, specifically HTC and Samsung. Other companies, like Blackberry, Microsoft and Huawei also unveiled new smartphones though they paled in comparison to things like the One M9 and the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. So let's check them out.

HTC One M9

When you first lay eyes upon the HTC One M9 you'll probably think to yourself, "Man, that sure does look a lot like the previous model." And that's what a lot of people think at first. However, HTC realizes that the current style of the phone is working and that a full-blown aesthetic revamp wasn't necessary. That doesn't mean, however, that nothing's changed because, actually, a lot of things have changed.

First off the new version is slightly narrower, shorter and fatter and also comes with wider left and right edges. A dual anodization process allows for different finishes and color, making it look really nice. A Snapdragon 810 is included along with 3GB of RAM, which helps keep things running smoothly. A metal lip runs around the edge of the phone, which some users found irritating despite the fact that it's purpose is for you to have a better grip.

The volume button has been split into two buttons and the power button has been moved to sit right under the volume buttons on the phone's right edge. A pop-out microSD slot is located above these buttons. One of the BoomSound speaker grilles on the front of the device has been reduced in size to make room for a slightly larger front-facing UltraPixel camera but other than that there's not really a lot that needed fixed from the M8.

Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

The last time Samsung was at Mobile World Congress it debuted the Galaxy S5 with that bandage-style back that you either loved or hated. This year the company brought with it the S6 and S6 Edge, smartphones that show you that the company has decided to slim down and push a few buttons.

These two devices are basically exactly the same in every way that matters. Both phones support bodies made of aluminum that is stuck between two layers of Gorilla Glass 4 and come with a 5.1" Quad HD Super AMOLED screens. Both come with Samsung's latest octacore chipset that are paried with a quad-2.1GHz processor with a quad-1.5GHz one and 3GB of RAM. LTE cat. 6 is supported by both phones and both are currently available.

Both phones look amazing but the Edge is the one that's going to draw most of the aesthetic attention. It is easily the best-looking, best-feeling smartphone Samsung has ever made. The screen gently curves away from you on both sides of the phone, leaving just enough room for the power and volume buttons. None of the wraparound apps created with the Note Edge SDK will work on the S6 Edge though you can swipe through notifications and news but there isn't much more to it than that.

Both devices run very smooth and feel nice in your hand. There are also a lot of new features that come with these phones, like the ability to multitask and run multiple apps at the same time, which is very nice. You can also open the camera app from any screen, even the lock screen, by doubletapping the home button.


Mobile World Congress 2015 wasn't the best conference by far but it did give us a look at some really exciting and new phones, especially the HTC One M9 and the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. When it comes to Android, these two phones and companies will definitely be the leaders of the market in 2015 and Apple has some serious competition.

Content originally published here

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New Aluminum-Ion Battery from Stanford Charges in One Minute

Let's not lie to ourselves, we're glued to our smartphones. We have to have them on us at all times, no matter where we are or what we're doing and that can be a serious drain on our device's battery life. When the battery dies we have to charge it but even that can be a chore as it takes time to charge our batteries, time that our fast-paced, technology driven society would probably rather spend on something more smartphone usage. If only there were a way to have our smartphones charge in super fast, like in a minute or something...

Well that desire is now a possibility thanks to researchers at Stanford University, who have created an aluminum battery that charges smartphones to full capacity in just a single minute. The scientists say that the technology has the potential to replace many of the batteries used in mobile devices today. The findings themselves were detailed in an online edition of the Journal Nature and a press release was also made available.

Instead of the lithium-ion batteries that we use today, this new aluminum-ion battery is a much safer alternative as it is less of a fire hazard than its lithium counterpart. The prototype is also a better option for the environment disposable alkaline batteries like the ones you use in most other electrical devices, like a remote or a game controller.

The prototype battery was developed by Hongjie Dai, a chemistry professor at Stanford, along with some student colleagues. According to a statement from Dai, "We have developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that may replace existing storage devices, such as alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment, and lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames. Our new battery won't catch fire, even if you drill through it."

The battery itself will last through 7,500 charges, which is extremely impressive due to the fact that previous experimental aluminum batteries lasted only 10 charge cycles. For a comparison, a typical lithium-ion battery only lasts about 1,000 charge cycles according to current research.

Aluminum is becoming a more appealing material for batteries mainly because it's affordable, doesn't catch fire too easily and has a high charging capacity. The only real challenge that faced aluminum batteries has been "finding materials capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging," according to researchers, though that is no longer a problem.

The battery itself consists of a negatively charged aluminum anode and a positively charged graphite cathode. In addition to that, the battery is also very durable and is even capable of bending, which severely increases its potential use in electronic devices. Researchers will still have to work on improving the voltage of the battery as the current model is only capable of producing half the voltage of a typical lithium battery.

This is definitely a monumental development in smartphone and mobile technology. Battery life is a key component to any smartphone, tablet, laptop or mobile device and being able to fully charge your device in a single minute is almost unfathomable. Check out Stanford's video below for a closer look at what they have created.

Content originally published here

Monday, April 6, 2015

Samsung's Galaxy S6 Has The World's Best Smartphone Camera

Well it seems that the accolades for the soon-to-be-released Samsung Galaxy S6 just keep rolling in. We recently published an article where the Samsung Galaxy S6 was awarded the world's best smartphone display and now it has another "World Best" award to add to its repertoire. According to some reports, the Samsung Galaxy S6 has the World's Best Smartphone Camera.
Photo Credit: Lisa Eadicicco
The other real competitor to the Galaxy S6 is, obviously, the iPhone 6 but a lot of reports are saying that the Galaxy S6 has a slightly better camera, albeit with some nuances and small details. Other smartphones, like the new HTC One M9, don't even compare to the S6 or the iPhone 6, which is good  news for Samsung as the HTC One M9 will probably be the only real competitor on the Android front to the S6.

When it comes to smartphone cameras most people only tend to focus on the megapixels, which refer to the size of the image. However, the megapixels are only a part of the equation that makes up a good smartphone camera. Smartphone cameras typically don't need more than an 8 MP camera. What's more important is how well the cameras take images in different situations, like low light, how well they reproduce color and how much detail they can capture.

Recent photo images show that the Galaxy S6 camera allows you to see a lot more detail and the color reproduction is also a lot better than the iPhone 6. When you take pictures in low light the differences are a little less visible. But even though the two phones are similar in the low light category the S6 does have one other advantage.

If you double tap the home button on the S6 you can automatically launch your camera app. In addition to that, the camera sensor is always on too. This allows you to start shooting right away without having to wait a few seconds for the image to appear on screen. The iPhone 6 camera has to boot up for a second before you can start taking pictures, which could be annoying if you need to capture a picture on the fly.

The Samsung Galaxy S Series is the undoubted leader of the Android smartphone market and is the only (in my opinion) real Android competitor to the iPhone from Apple. With each new version of the Galaxy S Series the smartphones keep getting better and better and the Galaxy S6 is pulling out all the stops in its attempt to be the number one smartphone in the world. Content originally published here

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Second Chief Designer Leaves HTC in Under a Year

Just 11 months after HTC's longtime Chief of Design, Scott Croyle, was revealed to be leaving the company, one of his former allies who stepped in to fill the void has also departed. HTC has confirmed that Jonah Becker has left the company, having previously served as its head of product design. Becker and Croyle joined HTC six years ago, when their design studio One & Co was acquired by the Taiwanese company.

When the new HTC One M9 came out, the company caught a lot of heat because the design was way too close to some of the other phones that they have put out. Was this the reason that Industrial Design Lead Jonah Becker decided to leave the company? Or maybe the lazy design of the phone was a product of him just not caring that much and trying to finish the product so that he could leave on a good note? It's hard to tell what the real reason is, but it seems that he has followed Croyle out the door now that the project is done

After Croyle left the company last year, Claude Zellweger and Becker took over the industrial design team. Zellweger spent most of his time on products like the HTC Grip fitness band and Vive VR headset and Becker focused his energy on smartphones. Now that Becker is gone, Daniel Hundt is going to be taking his position. Hundt has been a part of the HTC design team for quite some time now, so things should still move fairly smooth.

According to The Verge, this is what HTC had to say on the matter:

"We can confirm that Jonah Becker has left HTC; he had been with the Company since HTC acquired One & Co over six years ago. We would like to thank Jonah for his work with HTC, and wish him all the best in his future endeavours. He has been succeeded by Daniel Hundt, based in our San Francisco design office."

Within just a month of the HTC One M9, HTC has went through a ton of huge changes. They changed CEOs, and now they are putting a new person in charge of designing smartphones. There has been a lot of concern about this, with everyone wondering if the company will be able to operate the way they always have and continue with the same amount of success. But, with these new huge changes, it does give HTC a chance at a fresh start. They could take this opportunity to be inspired by the new faces and make some really incredible things happen, just like they always have and maybe even more so.

Sourced here
AirCards and Mobile HotSpot Rentals