Posts Tagged ‘phone’

In Data-Speed Race, Who Is the Fastest in LTE?

November 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

As smartphone usage has surged, so has the demand for reliable, fast cellular data. Sure, your smartphone can use Wi-Fi to surf the Web, watch video, stream music and download documents. But Wi-Fi isn’t always available or costs extra in some public places. In the U.S., the fast cellular technology of choice is called 4G LTE. The 4G just means we’re on the fourth generation of cellular data systems and LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, which is the fastest and most consistent form of 4G cellular data. It’s the one that U.S. wireless carriers are competing to offer in as many cities as possible, as quickly as possible. Verizon Wireless got the jump on deploying LTE and I reported my first tests of its nascent service in January 2011. But now AT&T claims it has almost caught up, and Sprint and T-Mobile are racing to build out their LTE networks. So I decided to test the availability and speed of the four major U.S. carriers’ LTE coverage in three metro areas where I happened to be in the past month or so. I focused on download speeds because the average consumer is still downloading much more than uploading

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Baby, You Can Drive (Or Ride in) My Car

November 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

If you’re still driving your own car, you might need to get up to speed. Car sharing and ride sharing have cruised into many cities around the world, especially as more people are going car-free to save money or live more environmentally friendly lifestyles. And smartphone apps are making it even easier to find available rental cars and rides. But before you can join in a chorus of car-sharing Kumbaya, you might want some basic information. In this week’s column, I’ll explain how car sharing and ride sharing work, how to find and access cars and how to address safety concerns. This could be helpful if you need wheels for just an hour or the day, want a ride from someone or want to offer a ride to someone. Just be prepared to pay for the convenience of quickly picking up a car and be aware of the possible awkwardness of riding with a stranger. Wheeling in Convenience A spin with some zip: Zipcar lets you pick from a variety of vehicles and choose a membership plan that fits your driving frequency. Renting a car no longer means going to an airport or rental office to get one. You might be able to find a car a few steps from your front door. This is especially common in cities where services like Zipcar, Car2Go and Enterprise (with its Enterprise CarShare program) let users pick up or drop off cars on streets or in parking garages. To start, you’ll need a membership with the company, which usually requires a fee, as well as some information like your driver’s license, age, moving violation history (if any) and payment information. The company will send you a membership card, which you wave over a small panel on the windshield to unlock the car and start tracking the time you began using it. Keys are inside and you’ll leave them there when you’re done. To lock the car, just swipe your card on the windshield reader again. In the case of Zipcar and Enterprise CarShare, cars must be picked up and returned to the same spot and reservations must be made via phone, website or mobile app. Car2Go uses a looser approach: It lets members pick up cars without a reservation (though you can make one) and it’s designed for one-way rides to anywhere within a designated Home Area

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Texting Can Be Good for Relationships (But Also Really Bad)

November 10, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Is texting good or bad for relationships? Well, yes, according to a new study. Flickr/Ei Katsumata “The use of texting with cell phones can increase intimacy by making partners more available and expanding their repertoire of connection,” according to a report in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy . At the same time, the study’s authors caution that “texting is devoid of important face-to-face cues,” raising the risk of miscommunication and real damage to the relationship. Also of note, the study found that repeated texts from male partners was a negative sign for relationships, while the same was not found of relationships in which women texted more. Barbie Adler, founder of Chicago-based executive matchmaking service Selective Search, said that men who rely on texting are seen as not taking the relationship seriously. Adler said that, regardless of gender, it is how one uses texting that matters most. The occasional text in the middle of the day to say you are thinking of someone can be sweet and romantic. But relying on texts as a primary means of communication — especially for the hard stuff — is a bad idea. “Something that is really important should be done in person or at least over the phone,” Adler said in an interview (done over the phone, not by email). It’s important for couples that do use texts or email to be sensitive to how often the other person is at a computer or phone, Adler said, as well as to make sure that both people have similar expectations on how quickly to expect a response. There’s another danger with always texting. You could end up missing out on meeting Mr. or Ms. Right. “I always say get your head out of the iCloud,” Adler said.

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Explaining What It’s Going to Do With All That Dough, Pinterest Unveils Stats on Strong Mobile and International Usage

October 23, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Pinterest confirmed an earlier report by AllThingsD that it had raised $225 million more from investors at a valuation of $3.8 billion . This Series E round will bring the total funding to $564 million for the San Francisco social scrapbooking startup since it launched in 2010. Yes, you may say it out loud: Yipes! In a statement, co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann said: “We hope to be a service that everyone uses to inspire their future, whether that’s dinner tomorrow night, a vacation next summer, or a dream house someday. This new investment enables us to pursue that goal even more aggressively.” I’d say so — now Pinterest can afford the really big guns. But to perhaps help assuage the worry — more like: “Good god, VCs have lost their marbles again!!!” — that Silicon Valley is in a bubble with this latest massive investment, especially given Pinterest’s lack of revenue, the company also released some new stats about its usage growth and what it plans to use the money for. Such as: Pinterest will use the additional capital for corporate purposes including: International expansion that builds on 125% international growth since the beginning of the year. Pinterest recently launched in UK, France and Italy and plans to launch in 10 more countries before the end of the year. Investment in the core Pinterest service, especially mobile which has grown 50% since the beginning of the year to become more than three-fourths of all usage (for comparison, LinkedIn just announced 38%). Continued development of monetization, which first began testing earlier this month, into a global program. Capital investments in technical infrastructure to make the service faster, more reliable and more efficient. Strategic acquisitions of both talent and technology. Well, alrighty then! In fact, some of this is already happening. Pinterest recently said it hired country managers — its first global employees — in France (where it launched its first localized edition in June) and England. Pinterest had also indicated interest in Japan, when it raised $100 million from Rakuten in May of 2012. It also expanded to Italy, as it noted. Pinterest also just did a deal , unpaid, to be preinstalled on Google Android phones distributed by Telefónica’s various carrier brands in Latin America and Europe. Pinterest has seen huge growth as consumers have flocked to the free site on which they “pin” photos of their interests and share them widely. Usage has exploded since it was founded several years ago and has also become an increasingly key driver of traffic across the Web to other sites

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Meet Blogger Mobile: Biz Stone’s Idea for Twitter Before It Was Twitter

October 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Even with the best of ideas, timing is still everything. And sometimes you arrive years too early to something big. Just ask Biz Stone, one of the co-founders of Twitter, who in the early 2000s made multiple attempts to build a simple, lightweight publishing service — all years before Twitter was ever on the radar. In a series of old blog posts, aptly enough, Stone documented much of his thought process of what a Twitter-like product could be, and made several early versions of a short-form blogging service. The first attempt came in 2003 with Sideblogger, a small project Stone worked on with programmer Chris MacDonald , tailored for entries that were “ too short for your main blog ,” as Stone once put it. Read this line from his early thoughts on the product: “My last post was 377 characters. My RSS reader is set to 255 characters. Maybe 255 is a new blog standard? The point at which post becomes essay?” Not quite 140 characters yet, but prescient enough. Sideblogger didn’t work out — Google ended up freaking Stone out by asking him to take “Blogger” out of the title , as the company owned the eponymous service. Later on, after Stone ended up joining Google and Blogger, came the Blogger Mobile project you see in the photo above. Stone, early Twitter product leader Jason Goldman , and Jason Shellen , another Blogger veteran, all collaborated on the project. This is quintessential Twitter before actually becoming Twitter

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Foursquare Opens Up Its Self-Serve Ad Platform

October 14, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Asa Mathat / If you want to be a big Web/mobile company that makes money selling advertising, then eventually you need to give small advertisers the ability to buy ads from you without talking to another human. Facebook built this kind of self-serve ad business a few years ago, and Twitter is building one, too . Google makes a ton of money from self-serve. And now Foursquare has one , too. If you’re a Foursquare user, you probably won’t notice any change to the service, but if you look very carefully, you may see more local shops and restaurants pitching you in places where Denny’s used to buy ads. The change is on the flip side, where Foursquare has built a platform that lets a local bar or restaurant buy an ad without ever picking up the phone. Foursquare started testing the software this summer , and says it has tried it out with a thousand buyers so far. Now anyone can buy an ad on a cost-per-action basis, as long as they’re willing to spend at least $50 a month. If Foursquare is going to be a standalone business, self-serve will be important. If it eventually ends up selling to someone like Apple or Yahoo, presumably for the value of the data it has built up over the last four years, its ad platform won’t really matter that much. What still matters a lot to Foursquare is whether more people are using the once-buzzy discovery service

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Facebook Acquires Israeli Mobile Analytics Startup Onavo

October 14, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Facebook announced on Monday it has acquired Onavo, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup focused on intelligence around mobile application data. Facebook will acquire both talent and technology as a result of the acquisition — the terms of which were not disclosed — and will also turn Onavo’s Tel Aviv headquarters into Facebook’s new Israeli office, a first for the social giant. Founded in 2010, Onavo dabbles in a number of areas including mobile app analytics and measurement for marketers (and reporters), as well as a mobile security division. It is data management and compression, however, that makes up the bulk of the company’s efforts — and is likely the area about which Facebook cares the most. Onavo offers apps such as “Count,” which monitors the data you use on your smartphone, as well as “Extend” , which shrinks the total amount of information you download on your phone to maximize your data plan. These services in particular are in line with the goals of , the effort spearheaded by Mark Zuckerberg in conjunction with a host of major global technology companies with the aim to deliver connectivity to the billions of people across the world who do not have Internet access. Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung are among some of the effort’s largest partners. It is a grand mission, one could say, born out of a sense of enlightened self-interest; Internet connectivity via mobile devices could bring economic and social benefits to those in developing nations who don’t currently have online access. But it also could be a long-term benefit to Facebook, ultimately driving more people to sign up for the world’s largest social network. “Our service helps people save money through more efficient use of data, and also helps developers, large and small, design better experiences for people,” Onavo co-founders Guy Rosen and Roi Tiger wrote in a company blog post early Monday morning. “We’re excited to join their team, and hope to play a critical role in reaching one of’s most significant goals – using data more efficiently, so that more people around the world can connect and share.” Indeed, in Zuckerberg’s lengthy first treatise on , one of the three main methods he proposes to bring more people online seems in line with the Onavo acquisition. “Using less data by improving the efficiency of the apps and experiences we use,” Zuckerberg wrote

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How Can You Undo an Upgrade to Apple’s New iOS 7?

October 2, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Q: I have an iPhone 4S and I upgraded to the iOS 7 operating system, but I really dislike it. Is there any way to get the old iOS 6 back? A: No, Apple typically doesn’t allow downgrades or reversals to an older operating system. For a brief period after the new OS appeared, there was a workaround to do it, but now you can’t. Q: I am concerned about the security implications of allowing Siri, the Notification Center and the new Control Center on the iPhone to be used even though my phone is locked. Is there a way to prevent that? A: Yes, in the Settings app in iOS 7, you can block all three features from use on the lock screen. For Notification Center and Control Center, go to their sections of the Settings app and turn off the switches that say “Access on Lock Screen.” For Siri, go to the General section of Settings, and then to “Passcode Lock.” Turn off the Siri switch under “Allow Access When Locked.” Q: My wife and I—one pulling 70, the other pushing 80—need to buy new PCs. We are only interested in connecting to the Internet for news, and exchanging emails. What notebook/PC would you recommend for us? Also, should we get Windows 8 or stick with Windows 7, with which we are familiar? A: I would buy simple, basic, Windows PCs, without touch screens, for around $500

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Here’s What They’re Saying About the New iPhones

September 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

“It is the gold standard in phones,” Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller said of the iPhone 5s when he unveiled it during a special event at the company’s headquarters last week. And the pundits seem to agree. The first reviews of the device and its “unapologetically plastic” sibling the iPhone 5c published Tuesday evening, and they’re largely glowing with a few minor quibbles. Below, excerpts from a few of them. iPhone 5s Walt Mossberg, AllThingsD, The Wall Street Journal : After a week of testing the iPhone 5s, I like it and can recommend it for anyone looking for a premium, advanced smartphone. If you are an iPhone fan with any model older than the iPhone 5, the new 5s will be a big step up. If you own an iPhone 5, there’s less of a case for upgrading, unless you want the fingerprint reader and improved camera. Ed Baig, USA Today : Taken in totality, the features new to the iPhone 5s make what I consider to be the best smartphone on the market even better, helped enormously by Apple owning the entire end-to-end experience. In my view, iOS is still simpler to use than Android, and made even simpler in iOS 7.

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New Google Wallet App Moves Past NFC and to All Major Carriers. iPhone Version on Tap?

September 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Google is launching a new version of its Google Wallet app for Android today and there are some big changes . Most notably, the app will now be available on all Android devices running version 2.3 and higher, rather than just a handful that support NFC technology. At the same time, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers will finally be able to download the app, though they will not be able to use it to make payments with their phones through NFC technology in stores. That in-store payment option, which has struggled to gain traction, will still be limited to a handful of devices on just a few carriers because Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are the backers behind the Isis mobile payment app, which also relies on NFC. Still, those with any new Android phone will be able to use the app for several other tasks, many of which weren’t available on Google Wallet in the past. First, users of the new app will be able to send money for free to any adult in the U.S. with an email address by linking their bank account with the app or by using their Google Wallet balance. With this move, Google Wallet will now compete with similar offerings from PayPal and Braintree’s Venmo. Money transfers funded by credit card or debit card will also be possible, for a fee. Those who use this peer-to-peer pay will get early access to a similar money-transfer product being rolled out on Gmail . Google Wallet will now allow people to add any loyalty card to the wallet by scanning the bar code or entering in the card number. Users will also be able to use their loyalty cards by scanning them at checkout; loyalty-card redemption was previously limited to NFC devices and NFC-equipped retailers. The new Google Wallet also comes equipped with integrations with specific loyalty programs, such as Belly and Alaska Airlines, that allow for new sign-ups through the app. One other big change has to do with how Wallet users find and redeem discounts and promotions. Google Wallet users can now upload offers found through Google Search, Google Offers, and sites such as Valpak, and redeem them in stores by scanning their phone at checkout. Google Wallet’s expansion of features that don’t rely on NFC technology will only add to the speculation that the app will soon be available on Apple iPhones. While that move seems increasingly likely, Google won’t confirm it just yet.

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