Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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Mobile Phones

Mobile Phones, cell phones

Microsoft Store in Danbury Fair Mall Is No Apple Store

July 9, 2012

The new Microsoft Store had its grand opening in Danbury Fair Mall recently and I wanted to check it out. I happened to be in the Danbury Fair Mall to (ironically) visit the Apple Store to have my busted iPhone replaced. [Side note - none of the Apple Store employees had ever seen my shaking screen problem and they were all oohing and ahhing over the oddity.]

Anyway, after getting my iPhone replaced I headed over to the Microsoft store, which had just opened a couple weeks earlier. I fully expected the Microsoft Store to be a cheap knockoff or clone of the Apple Store and to smirk at the audacity of Microsoft copying Apple's retail idea.

iPhone 4S GPU Busted - Icons & Screen Shaking Problem!

July 6, 2012

My iPhone 4S apparently has a busted GPU that gets progressively worse the more I utilize the GPU, especially graphics-intensive apps like games which no doubt heat up the GPU. Symptoms include shaking / wiggling icons, banding of screen drawing on right-side, top of screen pixels appears at bottom of screen. Funky! Check out the photo of this happening (yellow arrows):

When it gets really bad the screen moves up 40-50% making it near impossible to enter my lock code by looking at the screen.

magicJack vs netTALK vs Ooma vs. Obihai

June 22, 2012

Now that I have tested magicJack, netTALK, and Ooma, three of the leading super low-cost phone service providers, I thought it was time to do a detailed comparison of these VoIP providers, as well as a relatively new wildcard - Obihai, a BYOD VoIP hardware provider. First, if interested in the in-depth standalone reviews I've done in the past, you can check these out:
Each of the four have their strengths and weaknesses and none of them is immune to typical VoIP problems such as latency, jitter, or packet loss. Ooma however stands slightly above magicJack and netTALK when it comes to mitigating VoIP voice quality problems. The reason is two fold.

Apple's FaceTime in iOS 6 Now Works Over Cellular

June 11, 2012

In a bold move (not really), Apple is lifting the restriction that only permitted FaceTime to work over Wi-Fi and not 3G/4G cellular networks. Apple announced this at the Worldwide Developers Conference and no doubt users will be happy since there is not always a Wi-Fi connection available.

This is a highly-requested feature, because users are not always connected to a Wi-Fi signal. Another FaceTime enhancement in iOS 6 includes the unification of a user’s phone number with an Apple ID, which allows calls to be answered on an iPad and Mac. Apple said it is doing the same with iMessage too.

Of course, AT&T is regretting unlimited iPhone data plans and Verizon is phasing out unlimited data plans, in favor of tiered plans, which means just when you can use FaceTime anywhere, anytime - Verizon and possibly AT&T in the near future will slam the door. Personally, I think Apple was slow on the draw on this one.

Terahertz Wi-Fi Super Speed Breakthrough Coming Soon...

June 8, 2012

Japanese researches have crushed the record for wireless data transmission utilizing the terahertz band, an uncharted part of the electromagnetic spectrum, resulting in 20x better performance than Wi-Fi.

The band makes use of frequencies from about 300 gigahertz (300GHz or about 60 times higher than the current highest Wi-Fi standard) to about 3THz and it lies between the microwave and far-infrared regions of the spectrum. Wait, between microwaves (cook/heat via vibration) and infrared, which can be used to heat or cook things? And you thought cell phone radiation was bad for your brain...

But don't worry, the 20x faster than Wi-Fi data rate is worth cooking a few brain cells! I jest - there is absolutely no evidence terahertz frequencies poses any health risks.

According to the BBC terahertz rays or "T-rays" can "penetrate many materials as effectively as X-rays but deposit far less energy and therefore cause less damage." Well, there you have it - the BBC says it causes less damage than X-rays, so it must be safe.

Polkast 2.0 Improves on P2P Personal Cloud Access to Your Files

May 31, 2012

Polkast, a personal cloud service that connects computers and mobile devices through a secure peer-to-peer connection, today announced Polkast 2.0, available on Windows, Mac OSX, iOS and Android devices. Polkast 2.0 includes several new features and a Pro subscription version.

I tried out their service recently and it works very well. It reminds me of Orb, although Orb caches thumbnails and filenames of your photos, music files, and videos on their web server. Privacy advocates may not like this.

The New In Your Face Facebook Ads - Coming Soon!

May 21, 2012

After Facebook's disastrous IPO leading some to speculate Facebook's actual worth is in the $16-$24 range, it's worth examining what went wrong. Was it the Nasdaq computer glitches, which some claim resulted in $100 million in losses to investment firms? Perhaps a small factor. Was the initial stock price too high?

Telefonica Launches Skype Competitor Tu Me

May 9, 2012

Telefónica today launched a new mobile app called Tu Me, which essentially takes the approach if you can't beat Skype, join em'. Tu Me features texts, voice calls, messages, and location and photo sharing - all free of charge, with the caveat that it uses your data plan more, so it isn't technically "free" unless you are on an unlimited data plan or you use free Wi-Fi hotspots most of the time.

The app is currently only available on iOS however Android is coming. Tu Me enables communication and sharing between mobile phones, recording every interaction through a searchable timeline, obviously borrowing some elements from the Facebook social network and others.

There are some major caveats with this app.

Viber Announces BlackBerry Beta and Windows Phone 7 Beta

May 8, 2012

Viber today announced the availability of Viber for BlackBerry Beta and Windows Phone 7 Beta.

Both Viber for BlackBerry Beta and Viber for Windows Phone 7 Beta initially offer Viber Messaging, allowing users to exchange text and high-quality photo messages and share locations with other Viber users. The beta does not yet include their HD VoIP calling. Some may call this a bit premature beta since Viber is a known as a mobile VoIP app not a standalone IM app, but I'll give them a pass to bringing some early love to these two platforms.

Viber seamlessly integrates with the devices' interface, with no registration required, instantly identifying existing contacts who already have Viber installed so users do not need to go through a “friend request” process. According to Viber, "the full release for both platforms, including Viber’s signature HD-quality free voice calling, will be released as soon as it meets Viber’s quality standards."

Nokia City Lens Augmented Reality Launches on Lumia Phones

May 8, 2012

Nokia today released its City Lens app for Windows Phone, an app that is an augmented reality browser.  Users open the app, and depending on the phone's angle (landscape [facing away from you], 45 degrees, or parallel to ground) it automatically changes modes - augmented reality, list of locations, and map mode respectively.

The coolest mode is obviously augmented reality where you hold the phone up and scan the horizon with the camera and it shows icons where various points of interest (POIs) are located. You can specify the POI category, such as Food.

Then you can just tap to read reviews and descriptions, or call to get directions. You can also share your location with friends via social networks, SMS, or email.

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