slingplayer blackberry pearl 8120Fans of Sling Media’s Sling Box product are just about to the point where they can watch it any time and any where they want… literally.

While Sling Media has always touted how their Sling Box product allows you to watch your TV from anywhere via placeshifting technology, it hasn’t always been the easiest thing to do.  There have been ways to watch via Symbian phones, Palm devices and Windows Mobile devices, but those technologies are quickly being left behind in favor of other devices.

They had been beta testing the technology for a SlingPlayer app for BlackBerrys for quite some time, but it has now been officially released.  It unfortunately is not available for all BlackBerry models, but a goodly number of the latest models are supported.  You can see which models are supported, and download the software, from this page.

In other news, the company has submitted an application to Apple for approval, and hopefully they will soon be adding support for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  For now you will have to make do with watching the demo video they have released, but it looks like it is going to be pretty smooth and useful.

If you have to be able to see your TV while you are out of the house, Sling Media is clearly the way to go.

Categories: Apple, Mobile Phones, Video   
 

blackberry pandora clientPandora, the popular music streaming service, has released a client for some BlackBerry model mobile phones.

BlackBerry phones have always had the reputation of being all about business, but as online companies look to expand into new markets, this seems to be changing somewhat.  Pandora, arguably one of the most popular free online music streaming services, has released an application that will keep BlackBerry users rocking out for as long as their batteries will last.  AT&T, Sprint and Verizon customers who use the BlackBerry models Curve, Bold and Pearl are now able to download the application after receiving a text message from the Pandora site on this page.

For those who have never used Pandora before (for shame!), you simply enter the name of a musical artist or song you like, and using their “music genome” system, they will analyze that data to choose more music for you.  Once the data has been returned to you, Pandora will then build a “channel” of continuous music for you in the same style as what you entered.  If you happen on a song you hate, don’t worry, you can give it a “thumbs down” so it will never play for you again, but if you love it, you can give it a “thumbs up” also.

The app;ication and service are both free, and since BlackBerry’s require unlimited data plans, you could be listening to streaming music until the cows come home!

Categories: Mobile Phones   
 

iphone 3 os

The Apple iPhone OS 3.0 event has gone off, and while the event was a long one (darn close to 2 hours), the new features are fairly easy to sum up.

Accessories

Finally the iPhone will be able to work with input from other devices!  While they demoed it working with a speaker system, causing an equalizer to appear on screen, the most interesting concept was medical devices.  They showed a blood pressure cuff attached to the iPhone to record the reading, and this could open a whole interesting world of seeing the iPhone enhancing other devices.

Does this mean we could finally be seeing a physical keyboard attachment?  This would be a huge leap in moving the iPhone from just being a mobile phone to beind an actual mobile computing solution.

Cut, Copy and Paste

HUZZAH!  Finally you will be able to copy and paste things between applications… something you really should have been able to do since day one.  Simply double tap some text, drag your finger to cover as much as you want, and then choose cut, copy or paste from the pop-up selection bar.

In App Purchases

This is a new feature that could get potentially super annoying very quickly.  The best example they showed off was for a game app called “Touch Pets” where you have virtual pets.  Want to buy a new shirt for your dog?  Well, they’ll sell you one for $.99 and they will ask you via a pop-up window if you want to!

Landscape Mode

Finally you can do mail and SMS text messages in landscape mode.  This is another one of those features that you have to wonder why it took so darn long to come about.

Maps

Apparently developers of iPhone applications have been wanting the ability to wrap their tools around a map to bring you more tools, and 3.0 will allow them to do that with Google Maps from here on out.

Push Technology

People have been asking for applications to run in the background, meaning that when you close say an instant messaging application, it could still be receiving new IMs, but Apple says that after testing, they found it was just too much of a drain on the battery.  The battery was draining almost 80% faster with background apps running, but with push, which is where a server does the work and then “pushes” the information out to you, they saw the increased drain drop to 20%.

Now for an IM, you would receive a pop-up notification on your screen similar to the one you see for calendar events that you could then choose to reply to, or simply close.  This will not be limited to instant messaging, but could also include things like sports scores.

Spotlight

While Contacts has had search capability since last year, there was no way to search other applications such as Notes.  With the new Spotlight, you can now search every app all from one convenient screen.

Streaming Video & Audio

This boils down to you will now be able to play streaming games over the web along with the ability to talk to your opponents.

Conclusion

Some other things shown off included MMS messaging, recording voice memos, subscriptions to applications that will have new content, for an all told whopping new 100 features in the new OS.  Developers can start working with it today, and consumers will get it in June… you know, just in time for the suspected release of a new model of iPhone.

Current iPhone users will get the update for free while iPod Touch users will have to pay $9.95 for the update.

Categories: Apple, Mobile Phones, Opinion   
 

The InternetHave you heard of bandwidth caps on your Internet access? If not, you probably will at some point.

We’ve explained what bandwidth is before, but the short version is that it is the amount of data that you can transfer between computers.  While Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have usually offered you “unlimited” bandwidth (within reason), companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable are starting to to use bandwidth caps on your usage.

Essentially they are setting up rules that say you can use amounts of bandwidth such as 250 GBs a month.  That should be enough for most people, but with more and more of our computing and entertaining involving streaming information, will it continue to be?

Sure there are certain things you can mesaure how much bandwidth you are using, but do you know how much bandwidth youa re using when you work in a cloud computing environment?  How about when you’re playing your favorite game online?  Using Skype?  Streaming a movie?  You can see how your usage might start adding up quickly, and if you exceed your limits they can charge you more or they may suspend your account if you do it repeatedly.

Seeing as users in the United States already suffer from some of the highest prices in the world for Internet access, and enjoy some of the worst speeds, this just adds insult to injury.  With more and more services telling you how you can enjoy them thanks to the wonders of streaming Internet technology, just remember that each one you add will eat away that much more of your bandwidth cap.

Categories: Internet, Mobile Phones, What Is   
 

iphone 3 os

On March 17th, we’re all going to get a “preview” of the next generation of the iPhone operating system.

Tech bloggers have started receiving invitations to an event (we aren’t invited… someday we’ll be cool enough!) to be held on March 17th where Apple will unveil the third generation operating system for the iPhone. Presumably this will also be for the iPod Touch, but no confirmation as of yet on that.

This is being labeled as a “preview” event which indicates the software won’t be available for download yet, but they are also showing off the new version of the software development kit (SDK), so this looks like Apple is trying to prepare all of the application developers for whatever changes there may be to the core of the system.

We will bring you updates as soon as we have them, but people are already expecting things like tethering your iPhone to your computer to use it as a modem, MMS and, the ultimate dream, copy-and-paste functionality.

On a side note, doesn’t seem odd to everyone that Apple always gives you only a few days warning to these events? What if you have to fly in for it? What if you have appointments? Even though we don’t attend in person, we always try to cover the events, and it causes us to have to move things around in our schedule to accommodate them. A little more warning on the part of Apple sure would be appreciated.

Categories: Apple, Mobile Phones, Opinion   
 

amazon kindle logoAmazon has announced that they are bringing the ability to read Kindle formatted ebooks to the iPhone and iPod Touch.

If you’ve been envious of all the ebooks that are available for the Amazon Kindle, but haven’t wanted to pay $359 for the actual reader, there is now an option for iPhone and iPod Touch owners.  Amazon has released Kindle for iPhone (iTunes link) that will allow you to buy the books and read them on the device of your choice.  If you also own a Kindle, you can have the books on both devices, and thanks to Amazon’s Whispersync technology, you can start reading a book on one device, and wherever you leave off will be synced with the other device so you can go back and forth between them to continue reading your book.

While reading on the Kindle may seem a bit cumbersome, I can’t imagine reading an entire book on a screen the size of an iPod Touch.  It seems like an exercise in eye torture to those of us here at StarterTech.

For those that want to give it a go, the actual app is free, and the books will cost you.

amazon kindle screen

Categories: Apple, Mobile Phones, News, Opinion   
 

appsIf a new study is to be believed, iPhone and iPod Touch users have next to no attention span.

We recently asked When Do You Have Too Many Apps?, but if a new study from Pinch Media is to be believed, having any apps is pretty much pointless.  We’ve told you in the app story we did that the total number of application downloads was over 500 million, but it appears that people download them and quickly forget about them.  Only 30% of users bother to look at a paid app on the second day they own it, and only 20% of users of free apps do the same.

While we’re sure Apple doesn’t care if you ever use an application again after the initial download, you have to wonder how much longer people will put up with paying for applications they hardly ever use.  When will they finally say ‘enough, I don’t use them’ and stop purchasing new ones?  I have purchased exactly one application for my iPod Touch, an instant messenger, and I use it quite frequently.  However, I have downloaded around 50 free applications, and I actually couldn’t tell you how many of them get used on a regular basis.  They all sound like good ideas when you first grab the, but then you simply don’t find you have time to play with them as much as you thought you might.

The even scarier part of this story is that only 1% of users end up using an application over a long period of time, with games having the highest retention rate.  So the idea people are buying so many applications are fantastic for Apple and the developers, but no so much for the users.

What say you?  Do you find yourself dropping applications quickly, or do you try to get your money’s worth out of them?

Categories: Apple, Mobile Phones, News, Opinion   
 

skype nokiaSkype fans are about to get a huge leg up for using the service while on the go.

It has been announced that later this year Nokia Nseries phones will be receiving integrated calling from the popular VoIP service Skype.  The new fuctionality will be built-in to the N97 model, and owners who have previously purchased the phone will be able to obtain the same service via a firmware upgrade.

The best news is that Skype will be usable over both 3G and Wi-Fi so you will literally be able to use this new feature just about anywhere you want.  You will also be able to instant message with your contacts and the address book will be fully integrated so that you won’t have to be switching back and forth to find the person you need to call.

Similar abilities have been available in the UK via the carrier 3 for some time now, and it is surprising it has taken this long for the service to expand to other areas.

With the software being able to use Wi-Fi or 3G, this could significantly cut down on the number of minutes you use from your carrier, although you will have to check to see how your carrier will be treating these calls.  Over Wi-Fi they should be completely free, and I imagine on 3G it will count as data usage, so make sure you have a good data plan built into your contract.

Things are certainly getting more intersting in the mobile phone market, and looks to get even more so as time goes on.  Who will need a computer anymore if things keep going as they are?

Categories: Mobile Phones, VoIP   
 

universal mobile phone chargerA day that most mobile phone users have always dreamed of looks to finally be coming true: universal chargers are on the way.

You would be hard pressed to find an owner of a mobile phone who hasn’t at least once wished that all models of phones could use the same charger.  If you lost yours, and then had to hunt down just the right style, you realized what a huge pain having all of these different models truly was.  And the worst was if you were trying to use an older phone and your charger had been discontinued.  Luckily it looks like those days may finally be going away.

According to the Guradian, it was announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain that manufacturers have agreed to the new universal charger, based on the micro-USB standards BlackBerry users are already accustomed to on the Bold model, will begin appearing by the end of 2009, and will be widely adopted by 2012.  The new chargers will also feature a 50% reduction in standby power consumption.  Both benefits are part of the mobile phone industries efforts to improve their standings as being more green friendly as the business has always been seen as one of the least eco-friendly out there.

This is a development that has long been needed in the marketplace, and one I couldn’t be more excited about.  Having been a mobile phone user since the early 1990′s, I have had more chargers than I can remember, and I have always though there needed to a universal standard.  I honestly didn’t think we would ever see the day as the companies like selling you accessories specific to their phones, but it looks like consumer demand will finally win out.  The micro-USB format also makes the most sense as it will also give you easy syncing capabilities with your computer.

The phone I will be surprised to see this on will be the iPhone; due to its physically slim nature, it will be difficult to put the micro-USB port into it.  It would also be surprising if Apple would want to move away from their connection that they use on all the iPods.  I may be wrong about this, but I would be genuinely shocked if they joined in this movement.

Anyway you slive this, this move is a win for consumers and the environment.

Categories: Mobile Phones, News, Opinion   
 

verizon network extenderVerizon has officially launched their Network Extender femtocell device to increase cell phone coverage in your home or office.

We reported the other day that it looked like January 25th would be the day that the Verizon Network Extender would be launched, and it turned out that date was correct.  Using your existing broadband Internet connection, the device will increase your mobile phone signal inside your home or office, routing the calls over your connection as opposed to the traditional cell phone bands.

Also correct was the price we reported of $249.99, but the difference between this and the $99 Sprint AIRAVE is that there is no service plan with the Network Extender.  The current Sprint device costs you $99 up front and then either $4.99 a month for limited service, or $24.95 a month for up to 3 phones and unlimited calls.  While the initial investment for the Verizon device is higher, you can easily see how it is the better bargain over the long haul.

You can read more about the device, as well as order it, at the Verizon site.

Categories: Mobile Phones, News   
 
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