Sprint brings Free Wi-Fi Calling to iPhone

Sprint logoWhen I got my first cell phone in 1995, I opted for a plan that included a whopping 60 minutes of monthly airtime. Back then, cell phones were still looked at as “emergency contact devices” by most people. But much has changed in the last two decades. Today, cell phones are ubiquitous and there’s an expectation that we can use them wherever we go. And for the most part, this is true. However, there are still some challenges when it comes to finding a cellular signal, and smaller carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile have had to adapt their coverage systems to fill in the gaps where their towers can’t reach.

Wi-Fi calling has been a regular feature on most T-Mobile handsets for years. This service allows customers to make standard voice calls over Wi-Fi when the cellular network is out of range. And now, Sprint is bringing a similar service to its iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s-wielding customers. Over the next week, Sprint’s iPhone customers will receive a software update that allows them to initiate high-quality voice calls over Wi-Fi. This enhances and expands Sprint’s coverage and connectivity options. The service is as easy to use as Bluetooth – there is a simple setting to turn it on and off. Calls made over Wi-Fi won’t have any impact on a user’s voice or data plan, making those calls virtually free.

Sprint customers will now be able to take advantage of millions of Wi-Fi networks to talk and use data even when cellular coverage may be limited. This will definitely make a difference in office buildings and other places with cellular network challenges. Customers traveling internationally can also use Wi-Fi calling to enjoy free calls from over 200 countries back to the U.S.

When I recently got back into the cell phone game with an iPhone 6 Plus, I didn’t even consider Sprint as an option, mainly due to the company’s lack of overall coverage. Upgrades like this will definitely make the carrier more attractive in the future.

Todoist Celebrates Version 10 of its iOS App with iPhone and Apple Watch Giveaway

Todoist LogoOver the last year or so, it became pretty obvious to me that I needed to step up my game in terms of personal productivity. Like a lot of people, I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done and figured I’d try and implement that methodology to the best of my abilities. I looked for apps that would help me in this pursuit and I tried out a few different ones. The app I found that I like the best is Todoist, a to-do list and task management system that runs on most platforms.

This week, Todoist announced it would be releasing version 10 of its iOS app:

Since late last year, our team of developers and designers have been busy studying the intricacies of just how our community adds and manages tasks on-the-go. Armed with these insights, they got to work crafting several powerful new features, each designed to make staying productive an effortless experience. We believe that this is the most intuitive task manager for iOS– one that will continue to help people like you achieve truly amazing things.

Here’s a rundown of some of the features found in the latest version of Todoist:

Intelligent input: Type important task information like due dates, labels, and priorities directly into the task field on your iOS device. The intelligent in-line adding will recognize, highlight and immediately sort out and properly categorize all the details for you.

Quick add: There are two new ways to quickly add tasks to your Todoist projects. Add tasks to any list by simply clicking the red circle in any task view or project. Any items you add with this quick add option will instantly appear at the bottom of your list/project. You can also use your index finger and thumb to pull two tasks apart– this action lets you quickly add one or multiple items right then and there.

Start and end dates: Todoist will be able to handle extreme due dates, no matter how eccentric they get. For example, you could create a task to “run two miles with Carrie every thursday at 6am starting April 2nd and ending October 12th.” The scheduling possibilities are endless.

Expandable/collapsable list views: This feature makes it easier to manage and visualize complex projects. Now, you’ll be able to indent and reorder tasks and sub-projects by simply using the “long press” tap action and moving the task to its correct place. Hide less imperative tasks to get a full overview of your project by collapsing sub-tasks and sub-projects.

Multi-task editing: Increase efficiency by editing two or more to-dos at the same time. Need to change all the dates in your marathon project? No problem– just select all the items that need to be modified and tap on the calendar icon to select a new date.

This new version of Todoist also offers a variety of themes so you can customize the app’s appearance to fit your own personal style. Also, Todoist is running a giveaway contest in connection with the release of this app update. Lucky winners will receive either an iPhone 6 or an Apple Watch. You need to be a Todoist in order to win. Follow the link at the top of this article for more information on how to enter the contest.

My First iPhone

Jen's new iPhone resizedAfter years of resistance, I have finally become the owner of an iPhone. It is my very first iPhone (and I presume I’ll have to upgrade to a newer one someday). No, I haven’t switched over to Apple’s popular phone from Android. Before this, I was actually using a flip-phone. That flip-phone was the very first cell phone I ever owned, and I purchased it in 2010.

My new iPhone 6 is, obviously, much more versatile than the phone I used before. There is a bit of a “learning curve” happening as I try to figure out what the iPhone can do. I’ll get the hang of things eventually.

So far, I’ve only messed around with “the basics”. My husband, Shawn (who also writes for Geek News Central), helped me to pick out a ring tone and assign another sound that would tell me if I got an iMessage from someone. I used his iPhone 6 Plus to take a photo of my iPhone 6 for this blog.

The first photo that I took with my new iPhone was of the microphone I was using while doing a podcast. (That photo became part of the show notes for said podcast). The first phone call I made was to the local government to find out more about something that was happening downtown. I haven’t taken a “selfie” yet, but I figure it is only a matter of time before I do.

The most useful thing I’ve done with my new iPhone involves an app called Paprika. Shawn and I are both using it via iTunes Family Sharing. In short, the app helps people put recipe ingredients directly into a grocery list.

Apple Watch Edition is a Mistake

Apple Watch EditionThe Apple Watch Edition is a mistake. There, I’ve said it. Apple fans can leave vitriolic comments below without reading any further.

The Apple Watch Edition is too expensive. Way too expensive. Apple fans can leave additional vitriolic comments below without reading any further.

The Apple Watch Edition will sell plenty. Not record breaking numbers, but well enough. Apple fans….just a sec, hold on…how can it be a mistake, too expensive and still sell? It’s because the problem is not the Watch Edition itself but rather what it represents.

In many ways, Apple and the late Steve Jobs embody the American dream. Although there were setbacks along the way, persistence, hard work and great products from the iMac to the iPod and iPhone led to success, fame and wealth.

On the other hand, Apple was egalitarian. While their beautiful, well-designed products were aspirational, they were also affordable. Not impulse buy affordable but if you too worked hard, saved your pennies, you could afford the Apple product of your dreams. The relationship was reinforced with iPhones and iPads in the hands of celebrities and fashionistas; you could have the same phone as your favourite pop star or actor. In an era of mass-produced mediocrity, you could have something a little special.

And this is why the Watch Edition is a mistake. Apple now has a product which is unaffordable for the vast majority of its fans and owners. There’s now Apple haves and Apple have nots and never wills. What you have is no longer special. The equality of product between the rich and (relatively) poor, the famous and the unknown, has been lost.

That’s why I think the Apple Watch Edition is a mistake. It’s nothing to do with its looks, functionality or value but rather the change in perception of Apple by its supporters.

What do you think? Is the egalitarian nature of Apple’s product line important?

I Just Wanted To Give You My Money, T-Mobile…

T-mobile logoI’ve been in the market for a couple of smartphones. Specifically, one iPhone 6 Plus for myself and one iPhone 6 for my wife (and fellow GNC contributor) Jen. I was all set to purchase the new phones from T-Mobile earlier this week. But the utter failure of T-Mobile’s website lead me to buying from a competitor instead.

When I logged on to the T-Mobile site, I was immediately greeted with this message:

T-Mobile website browser warning

 

I was using the latest version of Safari on an iMac running the latest version of OS X. And yeah, I get it. Safari is often a bit of a thorn in the side of web developers. But, come on. It’s 2015. Macs are everywhere and many Mac users (including me) prefer to use Safari. Upon seeing this message, I knew I was in for trouble. But I carried on, anyway. I closed the browser warning message and clicked the “Shop” link at the top of the T-Mobile site.

From there, I selected a silver iPhone 6 Plus and continued on thru the rate-plan selection process, which went OK. Then, I went to add the second phone and that’s when the process started to fail. When the iPhone 6 screen loaded, it never gave me an option to buy the phone. I was stuck. I went back to my shopping cart to try and resume the process, and after much lag I was eventually given a “Processing Error” page that told me something had gone wrong, to wait a few minutes and try again.

So, I waited a few minutes and tried again with no luck. I waited a few more minutes and made another attempt. Still nothing. I’m not sure how many times I repeated this process before I started getting frustrated. I imagine at this point, most people would’ve given up. I guess I’m stricken with some sort of weird combination of patience and stubbornness. But, the thing is, I really wanted to buy these iPhones from T-Mobile.

[Read more…]

Booking.com Launches Booking Now App

Booking.com logoI was somewhat surprised to learn that 50% of travel bookings made within 48 hours of departure are booked on a mobile device. On reflection, it’s perhaps not that surprising, given that the spontaneous decision to travel is likely to be followed up immediately, rather than waiting to get home to get the laptop out.

It’s with this opportunity in mind that accommodation site Booking.com has launched Booking Now, an instant booking app that can get a place to stay in as little as two taps. After a successful launch in the US and Canada, the app is now available in the UK for iOS devices with an Android version to follow. The app’s built-in intelligence, along with GPS, helps it choose the best properties based on your preferences from over 600,000 properties in 70,000 destinations.

Booking Now - Booking.com UK imageWith the launch of Booking Now, we’re increasing our investment in mobile by leveraging our global scale, assets and partnerships to accommodate the growing number of customers who are booking reservations within two days or less of their stay,” said Darren Huston, Chief Executive Officer of Booking.com. “The new app puts users at the centre of the booking experience, drawing from our vast database of properties to meet their specific preferences at the very moment they need to book. Booking Now is designed to deliver a seamless mobile experience for spontaneous consumers, fitting perfectly into their multi-device, on-demand lifestyle.

Booking Now personalises real-time search results based on the traveller profile created by each user when they first start to use the app. The profile indicates specific accommodation preferences, such as budget and options like parking, included breakfast and wifi. Users are then presented with the most relevant accommodation available based on profile and location. The traveller can then modify their choice of accommodation to suit their itinerary and the places that they want to see. With Booking Now’s predictive analytics, the more frequently customers use the app, the more personalised their recommended matches become. Additionally, as user’s swipe through the app, they can pin their top hotel choice to the map so they can see where the hotel is relative to their location or other attractions.

The Booking Now app can be downloaded from the relevant app stores – iOS only for now with Android coming soon.

If only I had more time and more money to be spontaneous!

Element Case Turns Your iPhone Into A Pro Camera At CES

Element case poster

There’s no doubt that smartphone cameras have improved immensely in the past few years, but they still haven’t reached the quality of a DSLR. Element Case is partnering with optics company Schneider to transform your iPhone 6 into a photography star.

Jamie spoke to Jeff Sasaki, CEO of Element Case, about Element’s new iPro 6 lens case. The sturdy case protects your phone, and the attachable lenses securely fasten to the case to drastically improve the quality of your iPhone’s camera. The range of interchangeable lenses includes wide-angle, super-wide-angle, macro, fisheye, and telephoto so you can create the perfect image every time. And with the ability to attach a handle and/or tripod, iPhone photography has never been better.

The iPro 6 case and lenses will be released Q2 of 2015 with prices between $100-$300 depending on your chosen lens configuration. For more details, check out the Element Case website.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $5.00 off your First order at Harry's use Offer Code geeknews at Harrys.com
$.99 .com New or Transfer gnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: gncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

iStabilizer Selfie Stick at CES

iStabilizer LogoThe OED named “selfie” as the word of the year for 2013 and since then it’s been embedded in the zeitgeist. In turn, the selfie stick became one of Time’s inventions of 2014 providing greater depth and spatial awareness for the inclusive snapper. In short, they’re great fun and you get more in the picture. Marlo talks with Noah Rasheta from iStabilizer about their new monopod aka selfie stick.

iStabilizer have a range of gadgets to mount, hold or otherwise position smartphones, tablets and action cams. The new version of their selfie stick makes life especially easy for selfie takers with a universal smartphone mount at one end and a Bluetooth button at the other end of the stick to press the shutter in the camera app. The stick works with both Apple and Android smartphones – there’s another button on the handle to switch between the different types. Overall, it couldn’t get any easier: put smartphone in mount, hold stick to get the best picture, smile and snap.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $5.00 off your First order at Harry's use Offer Code geeknews at Harrys.com
$.99 .com New or Transfer gnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: gncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

On3 PowerCliq Smart Battery Case

PowerCliq LogoCombo battery cases for the Apple iPhone are commonplace from no-name clones to well-known manufacturers whose brand is almost synonymous with the product. On the other hand, combined case, battery and Bluetooth headset packs with smart battery management are really quite rare. In fact, On3‘s PowerCliq is the only one I know of, so watch Don get a hands-on demo from Brad Yasar of On3.

The PowerCliq is a 2700 mAh battery case for the iPhone which has two additional features. The first is a Bluetooth 4.0 headset that slides into the back of the case for both storage and charging. The second is that the charging features of the external battery can be controlled by app on the iPhone. When plugged in, most battery packs simply charge until the smartphone is fully charged and then keep it topped up; there are some schools of thought that suggest this can be detrimental to the long-term performance of the battery.

On the PowerCliq, the app can be used to set a minimum battery level such that the recharging doesn’t kick in until the iPhone’s battery falls to that level and once fully charged, turns off. This larger discharge / charge cycle is supposed to improve the life of the battery.

The PowerCliq is fundraising on Kickstarter with early birds getting in at $88.  Update: since CES, the Kickstarter campaign has been cancelled. There’s a note on Instagram saying that this is to allow for new developments and the campaign will restart soon.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $5.00 off your First order at Harry's use Offer Code geeknews at Harrys.com
$.99 .com New or Transfer gnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: gncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Schneider Optics Interchangeable Lenses

Schneider LogoDigital pictures and cameras on smartphones have changed the photography beyond recognition in the last twenty years and the quality of the imagery is such that innovative filmmakers are using iPhones to record footage. One restriction remains and that is the lens itself; there’s only one and it’s fixed in place. There’s no swapping in a macro lens, though Schneider Optics might have a solution. Todd finds out more from Don.

Schneider Optics iPro Lens systems provides a selection of high quality optical lenses for Apple iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy S4, including macro, wide-angle, super wide, tele and fisheye. The system works by fitting the smartphone itself into a case and then mounting the lens onto the case with a bayonet connector to ensure the best possible optical alignment. The smallest offset can lead to aberrations and a loss of picture quality, which the iPro Lens case and lens combination avoids.

The iPro Lens is available now for the Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5/5S. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus variant will be on sale shortly. Lenses cost from $39 to $99, the case is $31 and there are kits available too.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $5.00 off your First order at Harry's use Offer Code geeknews at Harrys.com
$.99 .com New or Transfer gnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: gncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today