Do you own a cell phone?

Okay, perhaps that is the wrong question to ask to a crowd of tech enthusiasts, as likely you all own a smartphone and the only division lies between iPhone, Android and Windows Phone. However a new repot from Pew Research finds that those non-techies we all know also have a mobile phone of some type — my parents have one, though perhaps they should actually charge it and carry with them when they go out!

report just released announces that 91 percent of people now own a cell phone of some sort. “Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has found that cell phone ownership among adults has exceeded 90%”. The research begins with a November 2004 study that showed 65 percent adoption.

pew cell phone adoption

The results come from a survey conducted between April 17 and May 19 of 2,252 adults. The new report also tells us that the cell phone is the most rapidly adopted technology of all time.

Exceptions include “people ages 65 and older; those who did not attend college; those living in households earning less than $30,000; and those in rural areas. In this survey, it is even the case that women are statistically significantly less likely to own cell phones than men—though this pattern has not been evident in all of our previous surveys”.

The research company proceeded to break it down to 93 percent of men and 88 percent of women, with further demographics by age group.

With computer sales down and the rise of smartphones and tablets, it is really no surprise that this number continues to rise. However, smartphones and tablets are more of a disposable device, where computers can be easily upgraded. THis perhaps makes the numbers a bit skewed.

Audio Evolution Mobile App

Audio Evolution Mobile 1.7.2 is a powerful multitrack audio recorder for Android that is somewhat reminiscent of Adobe Audition 1.5 in both form and function. Priced at $7.45 US, the app is a real bargain for anyone looking to do serious multitrack audio recording and editing on an Android tablet or smartphone.

Back a few years ago I switched from Windows to Mac, and Adobe Audition 1.5 is one of the pieces of software I had to let go of on a day-to-day basis in order to end the endless frustration of dealing with Windows. Newer versions of Adobe Audition have never struck me as having the same appeal of Adobe Audition 1.5.

It might be just me and the way I relate to software interfaces, but I’ve never had much use for Garageband on either the Mac or on my iPad. I was able to make use of Apple’s Soundtrack app, but it was just never as quick or as easy as Adobe Audition 1.5 was in quickly cranking out a tightly-edited piece of audio.

Audio Evolution Mobile 1.7.2 was easy for me to instantly make use of. The software maker suggests that you download the trial version to try on your particular Android hardware before you buy it, to make sure it will work for you. I downloaded the trial version onto my Galaxy S3 smartphone, and quickly determined that it would not only work but that I really liked the software and the way it worked. I uninstalled the trial version and purchased the full paid version and was able to crank out an hour-long edited recording quite easily with a minimum of confusion.

The software vendor makes it very clear that Audio Evolution Mobile 1.7.2 cannot directly output into the MP3 audio file format because of MP3 file format licensing issues. The app can output mixdown files to WAV, AIFF, FLAC or OGG file formats.

Of course the podcast file format standard is MP3, so in order to be able to convert the mixdown files to the MP3 file format, I downloaded the free MediaConverter app that converts files using the open-source FFMPEG libraries from many different file formats to MP3.

To add ID3 tags to the converted MP3 files, I installed the free MP3dit app that is able to edit ID3 tags for many different audio file formats.

To upload the MP3 file to my podcast server, I use the free ANDftp FTP client for Android.

Finally, to make the WordPress post I simply go to a browser such as Firefox for Android to the regular full browser view, log in and make the post as I would on a regular desktop or laptop computer.

To be honest, the last step is the hardest to accomplish on a tablet device. WordPress just isn’t laid out in a very touchscreen-friendly manner, but it can be made to work in a pinch.

From a podcaster standpoint, the mobile device recording, editing and posting software is slowly getting there.

Rovio adds account feature, lets you continue games across devices

angry birds friends

Many of us play Angry Birds, but are frustrated by the issues that arise when we change devices. There are options for getting around this. In fact, there are at least two backup and restore apps available in the Play store, both of which I have used. There are also options for doing a complete backup using a service like Carbon.

Now Rovio aims to solve this issue with a new Account feature built into the games. This allows the customer to log in and save progress, then log in on another device and resume play from the same spot. “Rovio Account lets you store your game progress and continue playing on another device” the company tells us.

There is a good chance you have not seen this feature yet, as the Finnish game maker explains — “Rovio Account is currently available in The Croods game globally, and in the classic Angry Birds game on iOS in Finland and Poland. We will gradually introduce Rovio Account into more areas in the future and also add new features”.

This will be a much welcome addition to the popular game franchise and will eliminate the need for third-party solutions, which work, but can be a hassle.

Angry Birds Friends tournaments begin today, complete with marriage proposal

angry birds

Last week Rovio released its Angry Birds Friends tournament -style game to the mobile world, making the popular bird-slinging, pig-killing game available to a wider audience. The Friends version had previously only been available on Facebook, but has now moved to both iOS and Android.

Today, the first full tournament gets underway — new ones will begin each Monday. Today though, something special is involved in the game. According to Rovio “if you play today you’ll see the incredible in-game marriage proposal made by one of our biggest fans”. The Finnish game maker goes on to explain that “a while ago a guy named Ben got in touch with an unusual request. He wanted to pop the big question to his long-term girlfriend Mel through Angry Birds! We jumped at the chance to bring these lovebirds together, and started building a custom-made level that featured Ben’s marriage proposal”.

While there have been no download statistics released for this latest Rovio game, it does appear as a featured app on the Google Play store. Combining the popular mobile game with the Facebook name should bode well for both companies.

Updated Facebook app coming to Windows Phone

Microsoft is now seeking beta testers for a new and updated version of the Facebook app for Windows Phone. Version 4.2.1 is still the current iteration on the mobile platform, but a new one is on the way. “Today we’re launching a new program designed to help speed up delivery of new features in the official Facebook app for Windows Phone and need sharp-eyed, energetic volunteers to download a beta version of our next release and tell us how to make it better” announces Microsoft’s Michael Stroh.

Users will find that the app is undergoing a major redesign and now includes several much-requested features, including new support for high-res photos, post sharing, and Facebook Timeline.

facebook beta for windows phone

Before you get too excited, Stroh cautions that if you “don’t like it when apps crash? This probably isn’t the program for you”. The good news is that you do not lose the current Facebook app if you decide to take the plunge then the beta will not replace the existing Facebook app, but instead run side-by-side with it.

Finally Mobile Streaming Becomes Truly Practical

I remember driving around back in the early 1980’s dreaming of what it might be like if I could listen to what I wanted when I wanted to. Back in those days, in many areas of the country, there was nothing to listen to but farm reports and hog prices. AM and FM stations would quickly fade in and out. Driving cross-country it was necessary to constantly change stations as they faded in and out, often vainly searching for something worthwhile to listen to.

When podcasting came along in 2004, in many ways it was the answer to that dream. Suddenly there was new content to listen to, on demand, on a wide variety of topics. It had to be downloaded and put onto a player in advance.

The past few years I’ve been experimenting with mobile streaming. For a long time, it just wasn’t practical in rural areas. Pandora would generally work better than all the other streaming services, but attempting to stream regular radio stations or even podcasts was generally not going to work.

However, now things have changed once again. With the widespread deployment of LTE mobile networks, successful casual streaming all kinds of different audio is not only possible, but practical in most of the areas I’m driving in. This opens up yet another new world of possibility.

Podcasting itself is a good case in point for something that came together because enough bandwidth was available. MP3 files had been around for a long time. Computers had already had the capability of recording digital audio for quite a number of years. RSS had been around for a while. All of these things converged and became something new.

Today I’m spending a lot of time with the Stitcher app on my Google Nexus 7 here in my truck, suction-cupped to the truck’s windshield and connected to stereo speakers via Bluetooth. Stitcher makes a great streaming mobile radio service. Now that the mobile data network is good enough in most areas to make streaming practical in the real world, new possibilities have opened up.

All of these things have been around a while. Stitcher is not new. The streaming concept has been around for quite a number of years. Podcasting as well has been around for probably at least nine years. What is different is now I don’t have to fuss with downloading them ahead of time. I really like the way stitcher lets you search for a keyword or two and then sequentially plays the different podcasts that showed up in the search. I find myself on a voyage of discovery, bumping in to podcasts I’ve never heard of. Because everything is on demand, like watching Netflix or Amazon streaming video, if I find an audio podcast I don’t like I simply skip ahead to the next one.

I can’t predict exactly how this will eventually develop. However, I can say, now that the mobile data bandwidth is a reality, there’s something here, and it’s pretty interesting. It beats the heck out of listening to farm reports or hog prices. It also beats having to fumble around with an iPod and auxiliary audio cables.

How do you recharge your phone’s battery when on the move?

Just a quick question for all of the GNC audience out there, because I want a true geek opinion on this and we have a web site full of them here. You see, I was thinking of ways to charge my smartphone while on the go — hiking and camping and the like. I am looking for the best solution and am curious what others use.

I had originally planned on grabbing something solar, thanks to the fact that we spend considerable time in the back country. But recently I came across a battery backup with 11,000 mAh of power and feel it may have the juice I need to at least get between hiking destinations — my son and I have aspirations to hike the AT in the near future and we could be spending days at a time out of range from both coverage and locations with power.

battery charger

So what is your go-to solution? What is best for someone heading to the middle of nowhere for days? Is solar or a battery pack the best option? Or should I consider taking both along? Perhaps the latter would be best for fail-safe purposes. I am also interested in knowing recommended brands and real-life usage by some of you. Post your thoughts in the comments below.

Striker’s Simple Sucker is a cheap, universal phone mount

StrikerA couple of weeks back I took a look at one of two Striker products that I had recently ordered. The Light Mine turned out to be a great little tool for around the house, as I used it during a power outage yesterday, but I primarily intend to use it hiking and camping. The other product I picked up was called the Simple Sucker, which is a universal phone mount.

I had been in the market for a universal car mount ever since I purchased my Galaxy Nexus last year. My previous mount was built exclusively for the Motorola Droid X and is now obsolete. I didn’t want to invest in one like that again, plus my wife sometimes has a need for these things and she has a Nokia Lumia 822.

For $6.99 Striker sold me what may be the simplest solution of all — a two-way suction cup mount. The product is small and simple and initially I was worried that such a device could not hold onto my 4.7-inch screen phone. Those worries were, thankfully, unfounded.

Last week my wife had a trip to take and needed GPS for the journey. The Simple Sucker stuck to her windshield like glue and did the same with the back of her 4.3-inch Lumia, despite the phone also being in a case. She reported no problems with it on her journey.

Striker’s Simple Sucker, for only $6.99, worked every bit as well as dedicated car mounts that cost many times the price. It is also completely flexible, allowing you to angle the phone in any way you wish. It was certainly the best deal I have got in some time.

IMG_20130321_084752[1]

3M MP300 Mobile MHL Projector

3M If you are a business traveler or maybe an app developer, and you want to show off your app or device to a client. They like what they see and they want to show to their partner, pretty soon you are passing your iPad or iPhone around a circle, which can get awkward after a while. 3M is offering a new solution a mobile projector, the 3M MP300 Mobile Projector.

This mobile projector is a sixty lumens projector and can project up to eighty inches in diameter. It will mirror your device instantly. It is a plug and play projector. It will work with a regular HDMI cord and also a HD-MHL device. With the MHL cord and a MHL capable device you can project an image and charge your phone or tablet at the same time. Many Android products especially those made by Samsung are MHL enable. This 3M projector is the only mobile projector with this capability.

The 3M MP300 Mobile Projector is available for around $250 on Amazon and at various retail locations. If you need a small mobile projector to carry with you and you have MHL compatible devices then the 3M MP300 Mobile Projector maybe the device for you.

Striker introduces new line of hand tools

striker logoStriker may be a name you are not familiar with, but the company has a line of small products that you will certainly want to check out. These are not “hand tools” for your work shop, but more for every day life.

Starting out, there is the Simple Sucker, which Jeffrey has fun with in the video below. This is a small device for holding your smartphone in place and at different angles. It can work on a desk, in your car and, apparently on skin as well. Striker also showed off rare-earth magnets with LED lights that can be placed at any angle, making them handy for working in tight spaces. It can sit on any surface, but since it is magnetic it can stick to things like the underside of a raised hood and shine down as you work on an engine. It comes in two sizes. Striker also unveiled a flexible light as well as a garage parking sensor that eliminates the need for the old practice of hanging a tennis ball to know where to stop.

Best of all, all of this retails for anywhere from $6.99 to $29.99. If you are interested then you can head over to Striker to learn more and shop for the products.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology

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