ShopSavvy may be the greatest mobile application ever.

Having just gotten a new HTC Hero running the Google Android operating system, I’ve been playing with the Market to find more apps. I came across ShopSavvy, which I had heard of, and opted to install it.

This may be the single greatest tool ever invented for the comparison shopper.

The application is available for iPhones, Android-based phones and Nokias for free, and it could change everything about how you shop.  Ever found a “deal” at a store, but wonder how it compares to the prices online?  You simply turn on this app, point your camera at the UPS bar code, the app reads it and then searches the Web for it.  You are then shown the name of the item to make sure it is correct, and it shows you results of where it found the item online and how much they are charging.  It will also aid you in going directly to that seller’s Web site.

For years my family and friends have called me while they are out shopping since they know I’m always near a computer.  ”Can you look this up on Amazon for me and tell me how much it is?”  Why bother any more with this handy little tool.

I tested it our with random items on my desk, and every item showed up properly and gave me prices I could find online.

The app itself is free, and I imagine they make some money on the links if you should happen to buy anything, but who cares?  If you have a phone that will support it, this is a must have application.

Categories: Cell Phones, Mobile Phones, Shopping   

Satellite radio company Sirius XM has had an application out for the iPhone and iPod Touch for some time now that allows you to listen to its stations over those devices, but the BlackBerry phones have received no love. Until today, that is.

Sirius XM announced today that owners of BlackBerry models Storm 9530, Storm2 9550, Bold 9000, Bold 9700, Tour 9630, Curve 9800, Curve 8520 and Curve 8530 can now enjoy streaming music from their service thanks to a new app. If you do not currently have a Sirius XM account you can get a free 7-day trial, but if you already have an account, you’re good to go.

You will need to go to the Sirius XM On Your BlackBerry page, select your model, enter your email address and a link will be emailed to you so that you can download the app.  No word as of yet if this will end up in the BlackBerry App World store for easier download, but we imagine it will at some point.

We’ve already downloaded this to a BlackBerry Tour (mine) and got it up and running.  The app seems pretty responsive, and allows you to easily mark the various channels as “Favorites” for quicker access.  So far I have only heard it through the built-in speaker, which of course sounded a bit tinny, but it was passable.  In my car I tend to stream musical content from my BlackBerry through a cassette adapter, which always sounds fine, so I am sure this will also.

The channel list includes 120 channels, so it isn’t the complete line-up, but there is a good mix of stuff in there.  Not sure why the Bollywood channel is missing, but oh well.

If you already have a Sirius XM account, especially one with online streaming, there is no reason not to get this.  If you do not yet have streaming, it will be an additional $3 a month.  A streaming only plan will run you $13 a month.

Categories: Cell Phones, Mobile Phones   

Verizon announed on friday that it was lowering its unlimited calling plan, and not to be outdone, AT&T quickly followed suit.

Even with reduced prices, cellular plan prices in the United States are outrageous compared to other parts of the world.  That being said, we should still be grateful for any prices breaks we receive, and due to Verizon lowering its prices on Friday, AT&T followed suit.  The best news is that current customers will get the new pricing without having to extend their contracts and will receive no penalties for getting this new pricing.

You can find the new Verizon plans here, and AT&T’s here.

While it is nice to see some sort of drops, you are still looking at prices like $1200 a year for unlimited voice and data on the iPhone via AT&T, and texting costs more on top of that, and is usually in the area of $2o a month.  Although it has been proven that texting actually costs carriers nothing, they still feel the need to charge us each month depending on the volume of messages we send and receive.

So, yes, yay for Verizon and AT&T getting in a price war!  Now they are robbing us slightly less then they were even a week ago!  Make sure you have the cheapest plan you can possibly have, and hopefully you can save at least some money, but just remember that you are still paying some of the highest cell phone rates in the world.

Categories: Apple, Cell Phones, Mobile Phones   

gmail logoAt long last, Gmail has gotten push technology for iPhone, Windows Mobile, and S60 devices!

Before you go off scratching your head if you haven’t heard of push.  Imagine that currently on your iPhone it uses “pull” technology which has to send a message to your Gmail account to check for messages.  This can be a slow process, and depending on how long of a time interval you have your email set for, this can take quite a while, and is honestly pretty archaic.

Now, with “push” technology, the Gmail account know to send the email on to your device as soon as it receives it, so as soon as you open your inbox on your device, the email is sitting there waiting for, sometimes within seconds of when your inbox got it.  This is a far more efficient way to deal with your email on your device and can be a huge time saver.

All of this is being done via Google Sync, a product Google introduced earlier this year that allows you to synchronize your contacts and calendar between your phone and account.  If you already have that product installed, all you have to do is change some settings and your email will sync also now.  You can learn how to do all of this by visiting the link.

gmail push cartoon

Categories: Google, Mobile Phones   

google voice logoThe insanity that is the rejection of the Google Voice application by Apple for inclusion in the iPhone app store just gets odder with each passing day.

For those of you haven’t been following this drawn out battle, earlier this summer Google submitted an application for its Google Voice service to Apple.  This application was to be reviewed for inclusion in the iPhone and iPod Touch application store, but was ultimately rejected for unknown reasons.  What followed was a blame game of epic proportions with AT&T also being dragged in as the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the United States.  The fight got to such a level that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to step in and start asking questions of all the parties involved as to what exactly happened.

As the war of words continued, things have now escalated even more as Google has decided to broadcast its reply to the FCC that does not paint Apple in a very favorable light.  You can read the full reply at the FCC site (PDF link), but it boils down to Google is saying this is 100 percent on Apple’s head for just being stuck in the mud’s over the fact they felt the new app would duplicate core portions of the iPhone’s functionality.

The issue here is that many consumers are crying out for the iPhone to be open and that it should run any software that is put out for it without question.  Some are even using the analogy that what if Microsoft told you what you can and can not run on your Windows based computer?  You’ve paid for the item, it belongs to you, you should have complete control over what you use it to do.  Well, I have another analogy for you … how much luck are you having running a Nintendo Wii game on your Microsoft Xbox 360?  I mean, you’ve paid for it, you own it, you should be able to run anything you want on it, right?

When you purchase an item such as a video game console or a cell phone, you are making a conscience choice that some higher power has a say over what software you are going to be allowed to run on it.  For Google, or consumers for that matter, to say that the government should force a company to allow certain things on to its equipment is ridiculous.  You are making a decision, a hopefully informed one, before you make that purchase.  No one forced you to buy an iPhone, you chose to buy it.  No one forced you to choose it over the other options out there, you decided to go with a phone manufactured by Apple, powered by Apple and ultimately serviced by Apple.

The government should have no say in such a situation.

Categories: Apple, Google, Mobile Phones, Opinion   

tomtom logoPopular GPS manufacturer TomTom has launched applications for the iPhone, but we’re not sure how in the world they came up with their pricing.

TomTom has been one of the leading names in GPS navigation systems for some years now.  When the iPhone came out with its application platform, it was fairly well known that the company would be releasing turn-by-turn apps for it, but it just wasn’t clear when that would happen.

Well, the day is now, and… we’ll pass, thanks.

The applications are available for four different regions and are priced at $95 for New Zeland, $80 for Australia, $100 for US and Canada and $140 for Western Europe.  Seeing as stand-alone TomTom units start at $120, well, to be blunt, you’re pretty much getting ripped off here.  You’ve already paid for the iPhone and then you get to pay for the privladge of putting TomTom software on your device… for nearly the same price you would have paid for it in the first place.

Thanks, TomTom!  Way to show your greed.

We’ll pass.

Categories: gps, Mobile Phones   

google maps 3.2Google has updated Google Maps for mobiles to add new layers that will bring even more functionality to the popular mobile application.

According to the Google Mobile blog, starting with the new  version 3.2 of Google Maps for mobile devices, you can add locations to a route from your desktop and then access them from you mobile device so you have the information on the go.  Make notes of places to stop along a route you take driving, walking, running or whatever and you’ll never forget it.

If you end up in a new area unexpectedly, you can access the Wikipedia information for the area to find interesting place to go.  If you prefer you can just search for types of places you are looking for, or just browse various categories to try to narrow your results.

So far the new version is only available for Symbian S60 phones and Windows Mobile devices.  There are plans to roll it out to other platforms, but no release dates were announced, or even what platforms they will be doing for sure.

Categories: Google, gps, Mobile Phones   

iphone 3gsWhen cell phone carriers and handset manufacturers make exclusive deals there are always losers. Sometimes it is consumers, sometimes it is the handset manufacturers, and the only solid winner is the carrier.  However, it is beginning to look like these sorts of deals may become more and more a thing of the past, but expect the carriers to fight it tooth and nail.

While this has been a common complaint of cell phone users for years now, it has picked up some significant momentum ever since the initial release of the Apple iPhone in 2007.  With AT&T having already extended the exclusive deal to 2010, and now looking to extend it even further, Senators have requested that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) look into the impact of exclusie deals on consumers as well as cell phone manufacturers.  The three biggest areas of concern are:

  • Are rural users being shut out of the latest technology because the majors’ networks don’t reach them?
  • Do exclusive deals limit access to technology?
  • Do they discourage innovation?

While all are good questions, there are also questions of pricing being effected by the lack of competition, and the current question of overall service issues.

We already covered how AT&T was lagging behind other countries in adding MMS and tethering for the iPhone, but now the biggest complaint is just a general level of sub-par service.  MG Siegler of TechCrunch, who is possibly one of the biggest self confessed Apple/iPhone fan boys on the planet, is saying that if Apple does not break away from AT&T at the end of the current 2010 exclusivity that he will either change phones or hack his phone to work with another carrier.

Earlier this week it seemed like there was a light at the end of the tunnel as Verizon said it would end exclusivity deals after six months, but after you got past the headline you discovered it was about the most empty gesture in history.  While it is true that Verizon will allow other cellular carriers sell its exclusive handsets after only six months, it will only apply to carriers that hae 500,000 or less subscribers.  Seeing as the four major carriers (AT&T, Sprint, TMobile, Verizon) control 86% of the market in the United States, this basically that Cecil’s Rural Cellular and Bait Shop will be about the only carriers able to take advantage of this decision.

Hopefully this is something the FCC will look into, although it is surprising it hasn’t done so sooner than this.  While it is certain that the iPhone is the most obvious example of the problem, there are plenty of other exclusive phone deals that are just as infuriating, such as the Palm Pre only being on Sprint.

The best way for consumers to let the world know how you do feel about this is to simply vote with your pocketbooks.  On a personal level, I’ve wanted an iPhone since the day it was announced, but due to my deep hatred of AT&T, I carry a BlackBerry on Sprint’s network along with an iPod Touch.  Who loses here?  Well, me on one level, but also Apple as they have lost a sale.  I am not alone in my feelings so by Apple or any other handset manufacturer signing these deals, and while there is no doubt that they have made a tremendous amount of money from the device, but couldn’t they be making more if it was offered to more carriers?  Sure it was a nice deal when the iPhone needed to gain ground in the highly competitive market, the same for Palm signing with Sprint, but the launches are over, it’s time to move on, and it’s time to end those sorts of deals as a whole.

Categories: Cell Phones, Mobile Phones, Opinion   

google voice logoFor what continues to be a free service, Google sure is putting a lot of work into Google Voice.

Just last month Google opened up  Google Voice to more users, and now they are back less then a month later with applications to bring the service to both Android and BlackBerry phones.  Now you can access your oice mail from anywhere and a whole lote more.  Here are the highlights of the service:

  • Access your voicemail: read message transcripts, follow along with “karaoke-style” playback of messages, read SMS messages sent to your Google Voice number (even if your phone doesn’t receive SMS messages) and access your call history
  • Place calls that display your Google Voice number from your address book, the app dialer (Blackberry) or the native dialer (Android)
  • Send SMS messages that display your Google Voice number
  • Place international calls at low rates

Android users can find the application in the Marketplace, and BlackBerry users need to go to to download the program.

I have already used the service today on my BlackBerry 8830, and while there was a short lag time in the number dialing from when I entered it, it seemed fairly seamless.  The caller ID on the end did indeed display my Google Voice number instead of my cell phone number.  Very interesting and makes the whole service feel a bit more tangiable and real.

You can learn more about the new service in the video below.

Categories: Google, Mobile Phones   

iphone 3gsIf there was ever any question that AT&T isn’t the right carrier partner for Apple’s iPhone, it’s pretty much been proven today.

While other countries were able to offer Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) the same day the iPhone 3G S launched on June 19th, it was known from the day the product was announced that AT&T would be late to the party. The belief was that the ability to send media via text messaging would show up some time in July, but it has now been confirmed that the feature will not show up until September at the earliest.  Why in the world it is taking a minimum of three months to get a feature a goodly portion of the world got on launch date is unkwnon.

The second missing feature at AT&T is tethering.  This is the ability to connect your iPhone to your computer via Bluetooth and use it as a modem to connect to the Internet.  Again, this is something the rest of the world is already enjoying, but it is still currently missing from the American version of the device.  To add to the pain of the missing ability, rumors circulated today that AT&T was going to charge an extra $55 a month for the ability on top of the current data plan.  The company contacted SlashGear to say that tethering to let them know that there would be an extra charge to use the feature, but that the price had not yet been decided upon.

Is it any wonder that both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Justice want to look into exclusive phone deals to see if they violate anti-trust laws?  AT&T is a perfect example of how lack of competition can lead to a lack of innovation and unfair pricing.  So what if AT&T hasn’t added MMS yet?  What are you going to do, switch to the iPhone over at Verizon?  Think AT&T is charging too much for tethering?  Might as well get the iPhone Sprint is offering!

Oh, wait… you can’t do either of those things.

While the iPhone is the most obvious example of the problem with mobile carrier exclusivity, there are of course plenty of other examples: the Palm Pre at Sprint is probably the other most notable case that people bring up.  Will it would solve all of our problems if exclusivity ended?  Probably not, but it would sure make a lot more sense since we are in a capitalist society supposedly.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of other problems in this country at this time, and a lot of things the government needs to be working on, but this is a situation that will definitely need to be addressed at some point.

Categories: Apple, Mobile Phones, Opinion   
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