iCloud, You Cloud, We All Cloud!

iCloud is coming, and it may just change your life. Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled iCloud at the company’s annual World Wide Developer Conference in June. Ever since, the internet has been abuzz with ideas and opinions about what iCloud will mean for the tech giant’s loyal customers.Apple iCloud Logo

In short, the iCloud service will allow wireless syncing and storage across iOS platforms, PC’s and Macs. While this may not sound all that impressive at first blush, take a moment to consider what this really means: your music, documents, videos and photos will be accessible from virtually all of your devices simultaneously.

Automatic Syncing

In an increasingly mobile world, Apple is cutting the cord – literally. With iCloud, users will be able to take a picture on their iPhone and have it pushed to their iPod Touch, iPad, Mac and PC automatically.

No more plugging your device into your PC to sync it with your iTunes account, then plugging each device into your computer one at a time to add the photo. Nearly every device you own that runs iTunes or iOS will be able to sync from the cloud instantly, saving both time and frustration.

Service and Storage

Apple’s iCloud service will also provide storage for your devices – up to 5 gigabytes – free of charge, with the ability to purchase upgrades if needed. A 16 or 32 gig device will instantly become 21 or 37 gigs whenever internet access is available, allowing you to store more files and documents without having to shell out extra cash for a larger-capacity device.

iCloud will also work with iTunes, enabling a user to purchase a song or television show on his or her iPad and have it downloaded to their personal computer and iPod at the same time. Past purchases will be viewable on up to 10 devices, removing the need to physically transfer songs from one computer to another.

Home and Mobile Sharing

Homes with multiple iOS devices will enjoy the ability to quickly and easily share documents, photos and music instantly. Apps purchased on your iPad will be sent automatically to all of your other devices as well. Bookmark a page on iBooks on your iPad, and pick up right where you left off on your iPhone when you’re on the go.

With iCloud also comes peace of mind. Your iPhone or iPad will be backed up wirelessly directly to iCloud. Contacts, calendars and important documents will be pushed to the cloud as you update them, meaning users will no longer have to fear losing a phone number or appointment if their iPhone crashes.

Faster Updates

Similarly, new updates will be pushed to your device without the need to download and sync with a computer. Updates will take less time because they will occur incrementally, only downloading whatever changes have been made as opposed to reinstalling the entire operating system with every update.

Few would disagree that the iPhone changed the world of smartphones. Likewise, the iPad is turning the computing world on its head as more consumers opt to make the switch to the revolutionary tablet either to compliment or replace their laptops. All of this means more users on the move, who don’t want or need to be tied to a PC.

Loyal Apple fans have long loved the mobility and accessibility that iOS devices provide, but at the end of the day, they were still tethered to the personal computer. As Apple continues to usher us into a post-PC era, iCloud will bring a new measure of freedom to mobile users worldwide in way they’ve never experienced before.

With a strong background in technical news and information, Blake Sanders writes on behalf of broadband comparison site Broadband Expert. Blake’s specialties are high speed internet, cell phones, as well as news and information on internet service providers.

iPhone 5 Is Coming

As with everything “tech”, out with old and in with the new is becoming the statement of the week due to the ever-changing face of technology. One question that always follows in my mind is, “Do we need another device?”

It seems so. iPhone 4 is just over a year old and not only does this make it old news, but apparently its technology is ancient compared to that of the latest Android phones—or at least that’s what they’d have you believe. The reason I’m not that excited about iPhone 5 (yet) is that I still like my iPhone 4, but now that I’m using a Windows Phone, I don’t even use it anymore. In fact, I plan to sell it to the highest bidder before iPhone 5 shows up, just so it won’t lose any more value.

Nonetheless, I’m an Apple fan and my blog is about tech stuff, so I’ll be talking about iPhone 5 just as much as I did with iPhone 4. Let’s get it going.

iPhone 5

Not much is known about the new device, but that’s Apple’s style. What does leak out is information stemming from unusual movement in other industries—in this case, manufacturing. According to TechRadar, Pegatron was sent a massive order to produce 15 million handsets for Apple to meet a fall release date. This date has only recently been rumored to be September 5th after months of speculation pointed to a September release.

We don’t have any rumored specs and only a few photos have surfaced, but like every past iPhone release, these pics are nothing more than hopeful designs, assumed specs and/or straight fabrications. We even had a similar event regarding an Apple employee testing the new device in the “real world” and got caught on camera. Of course, the photo doesn’t do any justice.

Apple iPhone 5 Leaked

The major question of the day has been about whether this device will actually be called iPhone 5 or if it’ll just be a performance upgrade much like the 3GS. In this case, iPhone 6 might appear next summer bringing the franchise back on line with its prior June releases, while September’s device would basically be an iPhone 4S. That name will really throw off those people that still think their iPhone 4 is a 4G device!

Speaking of which, if the iPhone 4S doesn’t have 4G (and it most likely will not), then we’ll have to wait until iPhone 6 comes out before we see any important performance increase. And I wonder how AT&T and Verizon will handle a 4G iPhone now that both carriers have capped their data plans. Sprint is looking more and more like a great alternative at this point!

My two cents

As it stands, I am unloading my iPhone 4 and keeping my Windows Phone (Samsung Focus). I intended to wait out my contract period in case I wanted to jump ship to Sprint, but I just found out that I’m stuck with AT&T until next June. At this point, I’ll just wait and see what this fall brings us. One thing is for sure—with Apple potentially releasing iPhone 5, a new iPad, Microsoft launching Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) and Nokia attempting to bounce back into the smartphone world with the N9 and other Windows devices, this fall is going to be a nuthouse!

AT&T Implements Throttling for Unlimited Data Plans

There was a time when you could get unlimited data plans on all the major carriers, but one at a time, they all dropped them like flies. Verizon was the latest to abolish their unlimited plan on July 7th, exactly one year and one month after AT&T dropped theirs.

This left T-Mobile and Sprint the last two with unlimited data plans. But, T-Mobile has a catch—while they do offer unlimited in the sense that there are no caps, when you reach the 2GB limit, they down-step your speed to that of something reminiscent of 2G speeds. AT&T has announced that they will be doing the same. That leaves Sprint as the only carrier left with truly unlimited data.

AT&T now throttling data plans

For the first time in cellphone history, the phone is dictating carrier moves. First, AT&T does away with unlimited data plans, then they allow existing users to keep their plans and now they plan to throttle those users.

In a statement last Friday, AT&T says that starting October 1st, they will begin reducing speed for the top 5% of their heaviest users, thus creating a better network experience for all. No data was given as to how much data these users actually eat up, so it’s hard to say whether you might fit into that group, but as part of the plan, they says many notices will be delivered to you informing you that your account will be affected.

The official reasoning behind this is that AT&T is running out of options. They have pushed their network to the max and are running out of wireless spectrum. In fact, the statement actually said, “Nothing short of completing the T-Mobile merger will provide additional spectrum capacity to address these near term challenges.”

Read the full statement from AT&T regarding data throttling.

iPhone destroys unlimited data

Ever since the iPhone debuted on AT&T back in 2007, the carrier has wrangled with the press, users and critics about the quality of service including lost calls, static on the line and slow data speeds. In most cases, things of this nature would usually get pinned on the phone itself. However, nobody could possibly blame the almighty iPhone! It had to be AT&T.

As it turned out, it was. No carrier at the time expected what was to follow as millions of cell phone owners jumped at the chance to own a device that could do everything for except cook them breakfast. What resulted was a large influx of customers that AT&T didn’t expect and therefore couldn’t handle. AT&T even admitted that they were surprised things were holding up as well. The backlashes just kept pouring in; mostly blaming AT&T for having a sub-par network compared to Verizon, but I never understood how the comparison could be made at a time where Verizon didn’t have an iPhone?

Verizon got to sit back for almost 4 years watching and waiting as things got heated up at AT&T, but more importantly, they got headstart into ramping up their own network for the debut of a CDMA iPhone.

At any rate, it can be said that iPhone may have single-handedly killed unlimited data plans for all carriers. This is probably the only reason why Sprint still has theirs although there is talk about Sprint possibly getting iPhone by the end of this year.

My two cents

I’ve been an AT&T Mobility customer since 2007, Cingular Wireless before that, AT&T Wireless Services before that and PacBell Wireless before that, which basically makes me to be an AT&T customer since sometime around the year 2000. I have seen many, many changes and have gone through many devices, service plans, customer service reps and service contracts in my 11 years. In fact, the only thing that hasn’t changed is my phone number!

Anyway, I’m really starting to think I’m done with AT&T. My cell phone bill is considered a low plan with the amount of minutes I have, yet with the $40 per month unlimited data plan (Enterprise version) and $20 per month unlimited text plan added, my bill exceeds $100 every month. This is also after a 21% corporate discount I’m getting! Verizon is not much better in terms of price. Sure I can get an iPhone and the network probably is much better, but without the unlimited data plan, I’m not interested. I could go with T-Mobile, but after the merger, I’ll be back in AT&T’s hands anyway.

So I guess I’m down to Sprint. Unlimited everything really shines considering the price is only $79.99 per month. I’m seriously considering this option if iPhone or some seriously good Windows Phones show up on Sprint’s network. For all you AT&T customers out there with unlimited data plans, what will you do?

My New Windows Phone

I’ve been using iPhone for over four years now and since everyone’s been egging me on to switch to an Android-based device, I decided to run the gamut of different devices out there firsthand to see which one I liked best. I tried Android 2.1 on a Sony Ericsson and while I wasn’t too impressed with the device itself, the OS was pretty clean. However, my first and only real complaint about Android was that it was too similar to iPhone and to be honest with you, I’m kind of bored of iOS.

Windows Phone 7

I’ve had some really bad experiences with Windows Mobile back in the day and I hated using it. It wasn’t so bad on the old PDAs we all used to carry around, but it needed help. First of all, Microsoft has always been attached to its Windows operating system and for good reason—besides Office, it’s really the only thing they have worth mentioning. The problem is that they have been so attached to it that they felt the need to basically put Windows on everything they could get their hands on. From PDAs to cell phones, stripped down thin-client desktops to point-of-sale cash machines. What’s wrong with that you ask? Well, Windows doesn’t look good or play right with every device. You don’t see Apple putting OS X on the iPhone do you?

Anyway, let’s get to the point. Microsoft has nailed it with Windows 7 in the PC world. They practically fixed everything that was wrong with Vista and added more features to make it really stand out against the competition which at this point is really only OS X and Microsoft’s own Windows XP. When I heard about the new Windows Phone, I didn’t really think much of it because I was already waist-deep into iPhone 4 and iOS. It wasn’t until I heard about the launch of Windows Phone 7 Mango (version 7.5) that I really started paying attention.

Android users have long complained about how simple the other operating systems are to use and how little customizing you can do to them, but those very reasons are why I loved iOS and now Windows Phone 7. Personally, I would never use my phone as my “haxor” device nor would I ever need to install a thousands apps that all do the same thing. To me, my phone is a phone. I use it to text, make calls, check email and from time to time, use the Internet and a play a game or two. Windows Phone not only does this, but it does it very well.

It’s sleek, it moves as fluid as the iPhone (something Android can’t seem to get down), it’s super fast and it’s intuitive. One quick comparison between Windows, Android and iOS is that Windows Phone 7 seems to integrate apps much better and it’ll get even better this fall with version 7.5. Android and iOS both require you to switch from app to app in order to complete a few related tasks. On Windows Phone for example if you want to see if your friend is on Facebook, Windows Live or just send an email or text, simply open the People tile and perform all these functions without ever leaving. You can also pin a specific contact right to the main menu for even easier access.

Rather than try to explain everything, I found a 2-part video showing off what Windows Phone 7 can do. Please note that the videos do not showcase what version 7.5 will be capable of.

Part 1:


Part 2:


My two cents

While it took me a little bit to really like this OS, it’s starting to grow on me super fast! Of course, there are always those little nuances that you have to get used to or find workarounds, but after that, it’s all good. A great example of this is on iPhone, if you start typing a text and then for whatever reason, you need to jump out and go into another app, your text message is right there when you come back. Windows Phone 7 doesn’t allow this. Once you leave, you’re basically starting over. However, this will likely be fixed in 7.5 due to the addition of multitasking. I don’t really feel like reviewing this phone just yet because 7.5 is going to add a whole lot of new features that will really bring this phone into a more legitimate comparison between iOS and Android. In the meantime, I highly recommend Windows Phone 7 to anyone looking for something different, exciting and cool. By the way, I use Windows Phone 7 on a Samsung Focus.

AT&T Mobility Features You May Not Know About

I’ve been an AT&T customer since 2006 (as Cingular) and even before that when I was with SBC Communications. Even though my service has changed hands quite a few times, one thing remained constant: the services are always changing. It’s always surprising to me when you sign up for a new plan and contract and not more than 4 months later, your plan ceases to exist. Sometimes there’s a better one available, sometimes it’s worse. Either way, you’re generally stuck in what you have and don’t have any wiggle room given the contractual obligations you must endure.

Another indelible fact about big service companies is that more often than not, new features and services come out, prices change, fees come and go, but no matter what happens, as long as you’re paying your bill they won’t tell you! Normally this doesn’t pose a problem until your bill gets higher and then you decide to go exploring. Well, that’s exactly what I did.

Messaging Unlimited

When I setup my first iPhone, I had added the unlimited text messaging feature priced at $20 per month. I knew I’d be sending thousands of texts and I had no intentions of paying $0.10 per message. For years I’ve used this feature and never bothered to look at my options…until now.AT&T Mobility Message Plans

When I logged into my account and looked at my features, I noticed three messaging plans I could choose from. The first two I already knew about: Messaging Unlimited priced at $20 per month (unlimited) and Messaging 1000 priced at $10 per month (1000 text messages). It’s the third one that threw me: Messaging Unlimited with Mobile to Any Mobile Calling priced at $20 per month.

Upon clicking on the description link, I noticed that this feature not only gave me unlimited text messaging, but also unlimited calls to and from any mobile device in the 50 United States plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands!! Considering I was already paying $20 per month, this switch was a no-brainer!! I think the funniest part about this find is that it’s actually labeled as a feature that AT&T recommends, but nobody ever called me about this. It goes back to my point that companies won’t go out of their way anymore to help you save money. We’re on our own people. Let’s see what else I can find!

AT&T Unlimited Data Plan

All you iPhone users out there remember the chaos surrounding AT&T’s announcement that they will stop offering the unlimited data plan, but did you know that you can still switch between the different versions of this plan?AT&T Mobility Data Plans

This really only makes a difference to those of us who have the iPhone Enterprise data plan enabled. Originally, the basic unlimited data plan was $30 per month, but if you wanted to connect to an enterprise server like Microsoft Exchange, you needed to upgrade to the $45 per month unlimited plan. Somehow this changed the connectivity of the service to enable Exchange support. Frankly, I don’t see how this is possible considering that the extra $15 doesn’t put any new software on your phone and data is still data. In fact, I’m pretty sure when I took my new job, I was able to connect to Exchange just fine without it. But since my company is paying my cell phone bill, they asked my to upgrade the plan.

Anyway, part of my exploration into AT&T Mobility’s features available to my account uncovered another mysterious Enterprise plan. The original one was called, Enterprise Data Plan for iPhone and priced at $45 per month (unlimited). Right below it was another plan called, Enterprise Data Bundle for iPhone – $40 and priced at $40 per month (unlimited). When viewing the descriptions of each, they both said the same thing in regards to an iPhone data plan that gives users the ability to access enterprise solutions such as Exchange. And then the third unlimited choice I had was to go back down to the original Data Plan for iPhone priced at $30 per month (unlimited).

As a grandfathered user of the unlimited data plan, I have the option to freely switch between these three plans. By changing my enterprise plan, I was able to shave $5 off my monthly bill! If you find yourself in the same boat, BE VERY CAREFUL when switching data plans—if you change your plan to one of the limited plans, you will NEVER be able to go back to unlimited! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!

International Roaming

If you ever plan on taking your phone out of the country you might want to check to see how your plan handles roaming charges. I discovered this the hard way. I saw an extra $5 and some change charge on my bill last month and found out that it was due to a few $0.25 text messages I sent to a friend of mine in Germany. AT&T Mobility Roaming Plan OptionsWhat’s interesting about this is the only texts I remember sending were done through an app called WhatsApp that should have been relaying these messages through the Internet. Who knows, maybe I was doing something wrong, but either way, I paid for them and then quickly went into my account to look for a way to block this.

Sure enough, I found that Expanded International Roaming was enabled. What this does is allows my phone to be functional outside the U.S., but I have to pay per-minute usage that vary depending on where I am in the world. You can use AT&T’s roaming rates calculator to see how much these costs are. For Germany, it is currently $1.39 per minute! It seems as though text messages are $0.25 a pop.

What I found to be interesting is that iPhone has a feature built in that disables International roaming, but for some reason this didn’t help in my situation. Instead, I opted to change my roaming plan to International Roaming Blocked priced at $0.00 per month. This way I don’t have to worry about any crazy charges should I ever leave the country. In effect, I disabled my phone service outside the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

My two cents

All in all, I knocked $5 per month off my bill, removed the possibility of getting hit with International charges and best of all, added the ability to send and receive calls from ANY U.S. mobile phone without ever losing one minute of my rate plan!

What we have learned here today are a few things:

  1. Always keep an eye on your bills and look for things out of place or ways to reduce costs.
  2. Never trust that your service provider will inform you of new promotions, deals or other money-saving items.
  3. You don’t have to go to an AT&T store or even call AT&T to manage your features and rate plan. Everything can be done online at ATT.com.

Microsoft Zune (Software) Review

As of this writing, the latest version is 4.7.1404.0.

For those of you who know me or have at least been following my blog for some time know very well that I’ve been an Apple user ever since purchasing my aluminum MacBook back in 2008. As a result, I’ve been using OS X, iTunes, iPhone, iPod and a slew of other Apple products for years. Right before the switch, I was working with Windows Vista and Windows Media Player 11 and 12 and some junkie MP3 player. I won’t go into how irritating this was because most of you know how bad Vista was and Media Player didn’t have much going for it either.

And then Windows 7 came out. I actually really liked it, but by this point, I was practically converted to an official Mac user and was known to my friends (for better or for worse) as a “fanboy”. I couldn’t help it—Apple just had it! The simplicity of everything really caught my eye the visuals just added to the chaos. But having been a Windows user since version 3.1, I couldn’t let go entirely and thanks to BootCamp, I was able to keep running Windows on my Mac. Now I’m bored of my iPhone and after testing some Android devices, I only have one other OS to test: Windows Phone. With that said, I wanted to get a feel of Microsoft’s new image. Step 1, download Zune.

Microsoft Zune Software

Although I haven’t used it yet, I love what I’m seeing in regards to the OS on the new Windows Phones. As a preparation for getting a new Windows Phone ready for my computer, I downloaded the latest Zune software and all I can say is, “WOW!”Zune screenshot

The Zune software just brings an element of style, cleanliness and integration that is not matched by any other music player, namely iTunes. I think the most striking feature of Zune is how one thing seems to flow right into the next. In other words, most computer software is used by navigating intuitive GUIs either by opening menus, clicking on windows or resizing frames, but with Zune, it’s almost like you’re navigating one big image. Even the standard Windows title and status bars are non-existent.

Zune Marketplace

Zune Marketplace
I think when it comes to comparing Zune to iTunes, the biggest concern is the music store. iTunes is known for its vast entertainment store, so how does the Zune Marketplace stack up?

Currently, iTunes has about 13 million song titles available for download while Zune only carries about 11 million. While iTunes holds the lead on this, you should understand that Apple had a huge head start in the music business and Zune has caught up really quick in the last few years! Another plus for Zune is that the currency used to buy music, movies, videos and other items is the Microsoft Points system, so if you’re an Xbox Live customer, everything is integrated.

Each song is about $0.98 cents with a lot of albums priced at only $10.00. If you want to see how far your Microsoft Points will travel, check out this Microsoft Points calculator. If you don’t care to click on that, then just know that one U.S. dollar gets you 80 points.

Zune Pass

Zune Pass is a subscription service that allows you to download any number of songs for play on up to 3 Windows computers and 3 other Zune devices for $14.99. This songs are only available while the subscription is active and they can’t be burned to an audio CD. Each song is in the WMA format with a bitrate of 192kbps and also carry the DRM protection scheme to prevent sharing. As part of this subscription, users are allowed to download 10 songs per month that they can keep forever even when the Zune Pass is cancelled. However, if you don’t use the 10 song credits each month, they will be lost!

This is an incredible feature and one that is worth the money by far! For such a small monthly fee, you have access to over 11 millions songs. Where else are you going to get service like that?

My two cents

I jumped off the Microsoft bandwagon back in 2008 and never looked back. To me, they seemed to be releasing products that were un-intuitive, missing key features, not fun to use and very problematic. Basically, Microsoft just wasn’t exciting anymore. Today, it’s a different story. Just like Apple has their trifecta—OS X, iPhone and iTunes, Microsoft has theirs—Windows 7, Windows Phone and Zune.

If you add on top of that the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, Microsoft is slowly coming ahead. I have to say with all honesty that I’m very impressed with how Microsoft has revamped their entertainment offerings. The real test begins when I get my Windows Phone for comparison to my iPhone 4/iTunes combo. Look out Apple, Microsoft might be taking me back.

Will Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) Cut It?

The simple answer to this question is YES. After taking a look at some of the new features that Microsoft is bringing to the table, I have a feeling that between Windows Phone 7.5 and iOS 5, Android is going to have a tough time finding a spot to fit in. It would be interesting if I’m right considering Microsoft hasn’t had the best start in the smartphone arena with the new Windows Phone operating system.

I have to say that with all the latest news surrounding the new Nokia N9 and the subsequent complaints about it being the first and last device to run Nokia’s MeeGo operating system, I was stuck with a decision I hate making. That decision is whether I should buy a new phone with a new OS or stick with the tried and true iPhone and its new iOS 5 coming out this fall. In the last 4 years, I’ve used nothing but iPhone and surrounded myself with friends that use iPhone too, so I’ll admit I’m a little behind when it comes to knowing about other options that are out there.

But thanks in part to my brother showing me the “light” of how great Android is, I’ve started growing bored with my iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Apple products and my MacBook still reins at the top of the list when it comes to computers, but it’s time for a change. I’m tired of Apple being behind everyone else when it comes to the most basic features. As a result, I’ve been looking heavily into Android, but after reading articles touting Microsoft as a new contender in the market, I’m now turning my head toward Windows Phone 7.

Windows Phone 7.5

I used to own smartphones that ran Windows Mobile and I never had pleasant experiences with them so I gave up on Microsoft producing phone software. After seeing what Windows Phone 7 has brought to the table, I was slightly interested in seeing more and even considered using it at one point, but I was stuck in a contract with AT&T and iPhone 4.

Now is the time to explore my options and even though I love the Nokia N9, I don’t feel like using a phone where the operating system will eventually stop being supported. If in the future, the N9 or some other powerhouse Nokia device starts using Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), I think we’ll have a winner. It would be even more interesting if this combo happens because it’ll be like coming full circle for me—I started with Nokia 10 years ago and my first smartphone was Windows-based. Let’s take a look at Windows Phone 7.5 Mango:


I think the best feature Mango has going for it (besides the 500-some features that Microsoft says will be included) is the fact that it’s built around people. Simply put, in comparison to every other device out there, Mango doesn’t require you to open one app, perform a task, then close it, open another app and perform a different task, etc., etc. For example, in the People tile, you can click on a name and see all of that person’s social updates like Facebook status, Twitter updates and more. You can then chat with that person right from the same screen, place a call or send an email. There’s no app-jumping here.

My two cents

From what I’ve seen in the above video and countless others on YouTube, I have to give Mango two thumbs up and I also have to say that this fall is going to be an exciting time with new phones coming out from all the usual suspects (but maybe not Apple), new operating system updates and Nokia positioning itself to make a huge comeback after their new deal with Microsoft to load their phones with Windows Phone 7. This might be the first time in 4 years that I decide the iPhone is not for me.

Check out everything that Windows Phone 7.5 has to offer.

Nokia Poised to Launch N9 to Compete With Android and iOS

There was a time when Nokia was the dominating force in cell phone technology. Back in the early days of cell phones, right about the time they started becoming more affordable, anyone who had a phone most likely had a Nokia. I remember when all my friends had the Nokia 5190. In my opinion, it was the first phone specifically marketed to the younger generation. It had text messaging, a phone book and a calendar. That’s all we needed at that age, but the one biggest draw this phone had was interchangeable faceplates that you could swap out to instantly change the color of your phone!

But, nothing lasts forever.

Somewhere down the line, some 7 years ago from today, Nokia seemed to drop the ball. I can’t say for sure if it was anything they did, but what is certain was that as more and more people were able to afford the dropping costs of cell phones, many new contenders began to arrive on the scene. I remember after getting rid of my Nokia 7210 in exchange for the Motorola Razr, I never looked back. Personally, the reason I stuck with Nokia for so long was because I hate flip phones and any device that had moving parts like a slide-out keyboard, but I did like the evolving technology that integrated music, videos and Internet with phones.

For some reason Nokia appeared to only be making business-type phones geared for professionals—not something that I was at the time. I stopped “shopping” phone models in 2007 when the iPhone came out. I was successfully brainwashed!

Nokia N9

In the never-ending battle between iOS and Android, one would think the worst move you could make was to drop another fighter in the ring, but Nokia is coming baby. With them comes their own OS called, MeeGo. It’s a Linux-based operating system that was launched back in May of 2010 as a mobile-only OS and currently used on tablet PCs, in-car stereo receivers and hand-held devices.

The N9 is a phone that does away with ALL buttons. According to Nokia’s website, it’s all touchcreen. I have to say, I’m liking this already. Let’s look at some specs:

Networks: Pentaband WCDMA 850, 900, 1900, 1700, 2100, Quad band GSM/EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900

Speed: HSDPA Cat10: 14.4Mbps, HSUPA: Cat6 5.76Mbps

Display: 3.9” WVGA (854×480) AMOLED display with curved Gorilla glass, no air gap, anti-glare polarizer

OS: MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan

Memory: 1024MB RAM, 16GB/64GB storage

Camera: 8Mpix auto-focus Carl Zeiss, wide-angle lens, 2x LED flash, Video capturing MPEG-4 SP 720p @ 30fps, 2nd camera for video calls

Size / Weight: 116.45 mm x 61.2 mm x 7.6–12.1 mm (L x W x T) / 76 cm3/ 135 g

Connectivity: BT 2.1, GPS, A-GPS, WLAN 802.11abgn, NFC, 3.5mm AV connector, micro USB connector, USB charging

Processor: ARM Cortex-A8 OMAP3630 1 Ghz, PowerVR SGX530

Audio: MP3 player, Audio jack: 3.5mm, Supported codecs: mp3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, FLAC.

Battery: 1450 mAh

Operating Times
Talk time: (GSM/WCDMA) up to 11 h / up to 7 hours
Standby time: Up to 450 hours (WCDMA), up to 380 hours (GSM)
Video playback (720P): up to 4.5 hours
Music playback: up to 50 hours

Of course, these specs are not guaranteed and can change whenever this device comes out, but I can be pretty sure that this is looking like a serious contender for my next phone purchase. That is unless the next iPhone doesn’t blow it away! Anyway, let’s watch the video:


My two cents

There’s not much to go on as of yet, so I won’t be making any predictions about how great this device is, but I can promise you that I’ll be following it as more develops. My two concerns at this time is how well Nokia can (or will) compete with the size of Apple’s App Store and the Android Market and when this phone might be available in the U.S. One thing is for sure, since leaving Nokia as a customer over 5 years ago, it would be very refreshing if they could win me back and from what I’ve seen so far, it’s looking good.

Apple to ban iPhone cameras at concerts?

There are days when I love technology and then there are days when I hate to see the power that it can have. Apparently, Apple is developing software and hardware that can render an iPhone camera useless in very specific situations. According to them, infrared devices can be used to disable all “capturing” features of the camera and/or any other app that has capture capabilities!

How it works

Apple states that infrared devices could be installed on a stage for example and shoot out infrared signals into the audience. Anytime an iPhone is pointed toward the stage, the signals will tell the device not to allow capturing. Whether it will shut off the camera app completely or simply take a blacked out photo is unknown. However, Apple also states that the technology could be used to allow pictures to be taken, but apply a watermark to it declaring its copyright status.

On the flipside, this technology could be used as a search tool. Say you’re in a museum and you want to know more about a painting or sculpture. Simply take a picture of it and those same infrared signals could be used to send informational data to your device for further research.

I can think of at least two other big industries that might implement image blocking technology.


Apple iPhone concert picture
Today, more and more concerts and events are banning the use of cameras and recording devices. Long gone are the days where you went to a concert and you got to see the flashing lights of thousands of little cameras in the audience. In those days, nobody seemed to care because there was never anything on the consumer market that could be of any “print” quality for someone to bootleg. At best, you got a blurry, over-exposed shot of a performer on stage, which made good for your personal photo album, but could never be sold to Rolling Stone magazine.

Nowadays, anyone with a few hundred dollars can get insane quality cameras that fit into your pocket and with the use of sites like Facebook and Twitter, you could capitalize on so many different fronts when it comes to distributing content that you don’t own. While this could pose a negative threat to a musician, does it really warrant the use of device-disabling hardware? I mean seriously—with today’s concerts being so dark and in such large venues, do these artists really care about an iPhone picture floating around the Internet? You can’t zoom (with any usable quality) and you can’t flash adequately from far away, so what kind of pictures are you really going to get? Or maybe video…ok I can kind of see the point here, but how does this shaky, no-zoomed video taken from the top section compete with the official DVD release bound to hit the shelves?

I’d say who cares…let the fans get some memories for their Facebook page, prosecute only serious offenders of your copyrighted work and just sit back and be happy that people are actually buying your overpriced concert tickets. But I’m not a musician, so I guess I can’t relate.

Movie theatres

Now here’s probably the only valid reason I can think of to use this technology. Movie theatres already use night vision cameras to scope the audience looking for people who brought their camcorders into the latest blockbuster, but this new tech would literally put a stop to anyone planning on using an iPhone to record the film. Of course this doesn’t seem to address the issue of using some other video recording device, but if this takes off, I’m sure it’ll open plenty of doors for similar protections across a slew of other devices.

However, who really wants a copy of a movie that is likely to be very shaky, a little out of focus and has sound coming from a tiny tin speaker? Of course the argument could be made that if someone could watch a new release (of any quality), they would probably not spend the money going to the theatre to watch it. While this might be true for a very small number of people, I have to disagree. The way I look at it is if you really want to see a film in all it’s big-screen glory with chest-pounding sound and all, you’re going to buy a ticket. If you’re not, then you probably wouldn’t have watched it anyway, but figured you’d take a gander because you found a free download online. To me, nobody loses here.

Attention movie studios, go after the real threat…people who are making real copies of real DVD and Blu-ray discs because I can completely see people wanting to save 50% off of buying a copied version over the retail version of a movie. In this case, real money is lost.

Movie theatres can then focus on the real crime going on at the movies—patrons trying to sneak in cheaper candy and snacks from outside sources and those people that buy one ticket only to bounce around inside the theatre watching more than one movie on a given day. You know who you are!

My two cents

As a photographer, the thought of my camera being disabled is horrible. I understand where and when I can use a real camera, but I always look to my iPhone in times where I don’t have access to a real camera and as such, I would never expect to take “great” photos with it. What this means is if I’m taking pictures with my iPhone, it’s because I wanted to snap a quick shot of something funny and post it to my Facebook. Or maybe I just wanted to share a memory or two.

While I do understand that piracy and copyright infringement run rampant today, I think this is a bad solution. The day this technology is implemented is the day I no longer own an iPhone.

Apple now sells unlocked iPhones

Today’s post is just a quick blurb about Apple now selling unlocked iPhones. Yesterday, I explained the difference between unlocking and jailbreaking and today I found out that Apple now sells the iPhone already unlocked.

Why would you want an unlocked iPhone? The number one reason is so you don’t have to be locked into any contracts with a cell phone provider. These contracts are designed in such ways that keep you under their thumb so you can’t upgrade whenever you want, you can’t change plans very easily and you can’t cancel without paying a hefty termination fee. Here’s a quick breakdown of the benefits:

  • No contracts
  • No carrier locks – You can swap SIM cards in your iPhone with just about any other SIM card you can get a hold of.
  • No country restrictions – Because you can use SIM cards from other services, you are no longer bound by your country of origin.
  • No roaming – You no longer need to roam when travelling out of your network.
  • Resell value – An unlocked phone will always be worth more than regular phones.

The price of an unlocked phone is basically the retail price. In the case of the iPhone 4, the 16GB model is $649 and the 32GB model is $749. Both of these can be purchased directly from the Apple store.

All of this makes you wonder if it’s possible to simply unlock your own device. I know back in the old days, when Nokia was really big, you could literally unlock your phone by uploading some flashed firmware and you’d be good. Today, things are a bit more complicated due to newer technology and better ways for companies to secure their proprietary software. After searching the Internet for some time, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no legitimate way to unlock an iPhone.

Of course there are workarounds and carrier hacks that work after jailbreaking your device, but nothing seems to really stick. Generally, these “fixes” will only last until the next software update—assuming you can even update your device without bricking it.

One such workaround was a service provided by GSM Phone Source that claimed they could issue you a new IMEI number that is not locked to AT&T for a small fee of $180, however, accessing their page in regards to the product simply spits out the following: The product you are trying to view no longer exists. Even if they could “whitelist” your IMEI number or provide you with a new one, who’s to say Apple (or AT&T) couldn’t remove that number just as easily it was added?

I found another interesting product called the Rebel Micro SimCard that apparently enables your phone to work unlocked by using a specially designed SIM card and tray that slips right into your existing slot. From what I’ve read and seen, these cards get the job done. But again, you’re still possibly stuck by not being able to upgrade in the future…unless they release new product updates.

My advice is to just buy the officially unlocked phone if you need one!