Well well, it seems you don’t have to wonder into your local wireless providers store to give Windows Phone 7 OS a try. If you have an Android or Apple iPhone handy you can give Windows phone OS a try by downloading an emulator that does a pretty good job at simulating the new operation system Windows has been touting the last few months. Continue reading »
The moment we have all been waiting for has finally come. For years we have had our hopes raised and then crushed. Tech blogs have spurred the rumor mills and created ongoing disappointment for those not wanting to sacrifice service bars for the next hot phone. It was announced yesterday that the iPhone 4 will be released for Verizon on Febuary 3rd for existing Verizon customers and on Febuary 10th for everybody else. Since 2007, the Apple iPhone has ruled the technological world. AT&T customers have enjoyed the advantages offered by the iPhone while Verizon Wireless customers remained loyal, touting their superior network. Withyesterday’s announcement of the new iPhone 4 on the Verizon network, will the loyal Verizon customer base be rewarded witha superior device on a superior network, or will Verizon mismanage the influx of users and bandwidth as AT&T reportedly did when they added the iPhone to their network? Continue reading »
The huge influx of Androids, iPhones, iPads, Blackberries and other “App” capable devices have allowed every-day people with a little coding knowledge to create their own programs. Everything from finding happy hour specials at local bars to doctors being able to analyze x-rays can now be seen in apps for mobile devices. This open-source theme, is about to take a step to the next level.
Bug Labs, a small firm out of New York, is attempting to provide this freedom to not only applications, but the devices themselves. Using their hardware, anyone can invent a device that will be compatible with their mobile plans. Pete Semmelhack, CEO of Bug Labs, explained to the New York Observer, “Right now there are hundreds of thousands of apps but only a few dozen mobile devices. We want to create an ecosystem for mobile hardware that is just as robust as the one which exists for software.” Continue reading »
Now that we’ve come stumbling blindly into the 21st Century, flailing our arms, and screaming at the top of our lungs to be satisfied and pampered until we can melt into a state of irreversible serenity, mobile devices and cell phones have surpassed luxury items and become a necessity to properly function within a harsh and judgmental society. But as this metamorphosis occurs, another movement pushes through: the Green movement. And while it’s no secret that cell phones, mobile devices, and computers are not “green,” many seem to turn a blind eye to the increased level of plastics and metals and choose in favor of productivity.
Well that’s fine. A society needs to be productive to advance, and nothing screams productivity like having access to global communication and networking at the touch of a handy button.
First of all, there are the materials. From plastics to the rare, powdery precious metal tantalum (mined primarily in Central Africa, where it’s become implicated in local exploitation and violence and is now known as a conflict material), cell phone materials present a variety of environmental and even human rights issues. Kinda like “blood diamonds,” but in higher demand.
Then there’s energy use. Smartphones are especially notorious energy hogs, with most models rarely getting more than a day of usage without some pretty drastic energy-saving strategies. It’s not just the obvious charging that takes up electricity and energy that increases a carbon footprint, but the cell usage and data transfer when multiplied millions and millions of times can drastically increase energy output.
All of this electricity consumption adds up to greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, this all depends on how often you use your device, but with great apps comes great responsibility–and telling an iPhone user how often and to what extent he can use his Applications is like trying to take guns and Bibles away from rednecks.
Aware that cell phones have an eco image problem, nearly all cell phone manufacturers, U.S. wireless carriers and office supply or electronics vendors now offer recycling programs (both in-store and mail-in) where they’ll take back your used phone for free and recycle the materials as much as possible.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides links to many vendor-sponsored programs.
Keeping your used cell phones out of landfills is one important way to green your cell phone use. But green is the color of money, too. You can make money by selling your used cell phone for reuse, either directly to a friend or charity, or through a verified Trade-In program.
An even greener (and generally cheaper) option is to buy a used cell phone rather than a new one. If you don’t absolutely need all the latest features, you can probably get a good price on a model in good condition that’s a year or less old.
This summer, the UK wireless carrier O2 presented its first eco ratings of popular mobile phones. This effort proved controversial because Apple (maker of the iPhone) and Research in Motion (maker of the world’s most popular smartphone, the BlackBerry) declined to participate.
However, RIM says it will participate next year. And some are questioning why several smartphones made it onto O2′s eco-friendly phone list.
Back in the U.S., it may soon get easier to tell which cell phones are really green. UL Environment Inc. (part of Underwriters Laboratories) is designing its initial sustainability standards for cell phones. The draft standards are due out in late 2010.
While we wait to discover new ways to increase the quality of our mobile devices while decreasing our carbon footprint, keep a few things in mind: When using your cell phone, keep in mind that texting is your most energy-efficient (and thus eco-friendly) communication option. Or if possible, call from an old-fashioned land line instead — that uses far less power to transmit calls.
A strange thing happened on the way to a Technology Review keynote the other day. Four like-minded panelists unveiled their favorite gadgets; and before you jump to any conclusions, it was neither the iPad nor the super-awesome new iPod Touch (which I prefer to call the iPad Mini).
No–as it turns out each one of the panelists exhibited varying portable base stations used to boost wireless signals.
It’s no surprise that we’re aggravating ourselves toward a mentality of instant gratification and southern-style “demanding” of “satisfaction,” however, how many of us would go the extra step to further clutter our already massively cluttered landscape and rooftop scenes with more towers and machinery? All of us? That’s correct.
Wi-Fi and signal strength can be very unforgiving and frustrating for anyone who is used to enjoying rapid-paced internet and phone service in their equally rapid-paced Starbuck’s-fueled lives. One moment we’re enjoying the unprecedented speed of a mobile application for…well…let’s say…the iPod Touch, or any cell phone. The next minute you’re lost in an unrelenting sea of No Service. Sure, you could stand outside of a coffee shop, desperately pacing back and forth trying to pick up their signal, or you could introduce yourself to the Future.
Actually, we’re already there…and we might be able to un-clutter our landscapes and rooftops at the same time. Qualcomm’s senior vice president unveiled a portable femtocell base station that generates a signal over a 10 meter radius–and it’s about the size of a TV remote.
Imagine these bad boys simply planted around the city, or office, hidden in plants or trees, scattered about public parks, and now imagine them to have almost limitless signal strength and reach for miles and miles. OK, now you’re dreaming too big…for now.
The corporate head honchos expect to see a gigantic spike in cell phone use over the next five years. Alice White, a vice president at Bell Labs, expects that 40% of phones will be smart phones simultaneously running any number of apps, and if something is not done to prepare for that kind of usage, consumers will be tearing out their hair–so to speak.
The wheels are in motion to begin planting these portable cell phone towers in key areas. If no power source is nearby, the devices can be rigged to run on solar power. Mmm…green.
If all goes according to plan, we will inevitably see a huge increase in the ability to view, create, and share large multimedia files with ease and peace of mind. According to a CEO at Sprint, “Wireless has been the fastest adopted technology in history. There are more cell phones in use today than TVs, PCs and cars combined.”
Femtocells are designed to fill in “coverage holes” that often occur in homes and small businesses, Jonathan Segel, executive director of Alcatel-Lucent’s CTO Group, noted during his EmTech presentation Wednesday about mobile apps. In addition, he pointed out that cities have begun to turn to “metro cells” (which provide a range of several kilometers…okay now you can start dreaming big again) to offload data traffic in densely populated areas.
The trend over time is for mobile phone cells to continue to shrink while providing better service to wireless users. “Because your phone isn’t having to shout [to reach a cell tower], your battery life is better,” according to Rupert Baines, vice president of marketing for picoChip, a maker of chips used in femtocells. “If the signal doesn’t have to go too far you’ll get better quality, you’re covering less people with each base station and each person is getting more capacity.” PicoChip recently introduced a new processor designed to boost even small portable base station signals so they can be used in a variety of public spaces, including shopping malls and airports.
As of June 7th, consumers who jump on the iPad bandwagon will no longer be able to purchase an “unlimited” download plan. Previously, an iPad user would drop $30 per month to send and receive as much data as they desired–but this is all going to change. The new limit is 2 gigabytes-per-month at a $25 rate. Needless to say, many consumers are frustrated.
The good news is that if you bought your iPad early, you are grandfathered in to the old rates and are not required to switch over to the new plan.
The bad news: it looks like Apple iPhone users aren’t off the hook. In an effort to weed down the number of iPhone customers holding on to their previous Unlimited Data Plans, AT&T is offering a service called “tethering” for $20 per month.
Tethering is a service that turns your portable device into a modem to provide internet access for their laptop. Put simply, if you’re in an area with no wireless internet, simply plug your iPhone into your laptop and enjoy an AT&T sponsored broadband connection. So, that’s the catch–give up your sweet Unlimited Data Plan and opt for the very-useful tethering feature.
Statistics show that on average 98% of AT&T’s customers user less than 2 Gigs per month–so, don’t be so quick to judge. Hypothetically, this change seems economically feasible…yet slightly questionable.
My opinion (since you’re obviously looking for it)?
–Keep your Unlimited Data Plan and hook up with CLEAR for your laptop wi-fi. It’s cheap, efficient, and the customer support is wonderful.