Saturday, May 30, 2015

Smartphones: iPhones and Android

By Bayle Emlein

Basically, all devices are the same. They have different operating systems, but they all make calls; take, edit, and share pictures; can add word processing spreadsheets; text message (send and receive) shop; listen to music; and engage in other productive activities.  

Android allows the addition of memory via SD cards. USB ports allow the incorporation of any device that has a USB connector. The Samsung Note 2 allows the ability to input handwritten notes using a finger or stylus. It comes with an impact resistant case.

Android phones synch well with Google, and thus Google Calendar. iphones and other iDevices can coordinate through Exchange. Both systems allow the setting of reminders.

Apple is a closed system: you do it their way or not at all. Android has too many options.

Bookbud is a free subscription service that sends a daily email of bargain-priced books. If you're a reader, check it out.

Use the security features built into your phone. Just do it.

Never EVER do banking from an unsecured hotspot. Don't engage in any other activity that reveals personal or confidential information. Just don't do it.

The LastPass password manager app will create and store secure passwords. For a $12 upgrade, you can integrate all your devices. Then all you have to remember is your password to LastPass.

When you go shopping, be aware that a smartphone comes with a dataplan. You may be able to select among plans and networks when you are shopping, but once you've made your purchase, you have made a commitment. Another shopping tip: many sales people operate on a commission. If you are feeling pressured, go somewhere else.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Pebble Watch is Shipping

This week, smartwatch maker Pebble began shipping its latest smartwatch to the people who backed the $20 million Pebble Time Kickstarter campaign.

The first 10,000 rewards ship this week worldwide. Pebble says that all campaign contributors should receive a tracking number by mid-June. Everyone else can begin preordering the Pebble Time on June 22.

The Time is Pebble’s third smartwatch and comes with a color screen and seven-day battery life. At $200 it’s not cheap, but its more affordable than the Apple Watch. The gadget also adds voice-command capabilities and is water-resistant. For more on the watch check out our deep dive here.

The Pebble Time Watch also has a series of partnered apps that include Uber, ESPN, Fitocracy, iHeart Radio, Trip Advisor, and the Weather Channel.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

ZAGG Pocket Keyboard Update

By Bayle Emlein

Here's an updated report on the Zagg Pocket Keyboard that we reviewed in the June issue of our ePub.

In everyday real life, 2 months appears to be the outside useful life of a single charge. Of course, it has had the privilege of sharing space with my thawing, condensing lunches and long afternoons in a warm vehicle.

Recharging is quick and easy. I'm making a note to myself to recharge before an intense assignment or before going on the road. But it is definitely coming on the road with me.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

MSFT Adds Tablet Makers

Microsoft is adding 20 more global and local device makers to the list of companies that are bundling Office apps and services with their Android devices.

The expanded list of companies signing pre-installation deals with Microsoft include LG and Sony, according to a blog post on Tuesday announcing the list.

Most of the names on the list are regional device makers, including: Axdia International GMBH, Germany; Cube, China; DL, Brazil; General Procurement, U.S.; Grupo Nucleo, Argentina; Haier, China; Inco, Mexico; Ionik GMBH, Germany; Iview, US and Latin America; Multilaser, Brazil; Noblex, Argentina; Pacific (Vulcan), Mexico; Philco, Argentina; Positivo, Brazil; Prestigio, EMEA; Teclast, China; TMAX Digital, North America; and Wortmann, Germany.

Microsoft officials said the company now has 31 partners that "will offer Android tablets pre-installed with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype in the near future."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

More Blackberry News

Mobile device maker BlackBerry (BBRY) confirmed it plans to layoff an undetermined number of workers in its device business that will hit staffers in smartphone software development and apps.

BlackBerry, which said last month it might close its Sweden offices employing about 100 people, attributed the layoffs to its strategy to boost sales of its mobile management and security solutions to enterprise accounts. It’s unclear if BlackBerry’s Sweden office is included in this round of job cuts.

BlackBerry previously has said one of its priorities for this year is to stabilize its sales while sustaining profit levels and cash generation. Some 11 percent of the company's staff is dedicated to enterprise sales, a number the vendor wants to get to about 20 percent.

"As the company moves into its next stage of the turnaround, our intention is to reallocate resources in ways that will best enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities while driving toward sustainable profitability across all facets of our business," BlackBerry said in a statement.

"One of our priorities is making our device business profitable," BlackBerry said. "At the same time, we must grow software and licensing revenues. You will see in the coming months a significant ramping up in our customer-facing activities in sales and marketing."

The company, which employs about 7,000 people about half of whom work in Canada, declined to provide any details about the layoffs.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day

There will be no blog post on Memorial Day. It is a solemn day to remember those who fell fighting to save our freedoms.

Please spend a moment or two to remember the heroes who have died for you. We will never forget them and we hope our followers never forget either.

MSFT Office for Android Phones

Microsoft is finally closing a major gap in its Office mobile app portfolio.

Jared Spataro, general manager of Microsoft Office 365 marketing, announced on May 19 that the company has released preview versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Android smartphones such as Samsung's new flagship, the Galaxy S6. Microsoft released a limited preview of Office for Android tablets last November, before opening up the early-access program to all comers just after the new year.

"The Office for Android phone apps are modern, optimized for touch and designed for work on the go," said Spataro in a statement. First, Microsoft is requiring prospective beta testers to register with the Office for Android community on Google+. Once registered, users can click on the respective Word, Excel and PowerPoint links.

Then, they wait. "Wait for ~4 hours as Google play takes time to replicate permissions, then click above mentioned links and follow the download links to install apps using Google play store," instructs the Microsoft Office for Android Google Plus page.