jump to navigation

Inside Out: The Future of the Cell Phone February 21, 2010

Posted by Eli Blumenthal in Cell Phones, Opinion.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

From time to time, we’ll provide our thoughts as to where we think the industry is going, particularly as it relates to teens. We’re calling these posts, Inside Out, because we’ll be looking from where we sit into the outside world.

The future of the cell phone: the Windows Phone 7 Series, iPhone 3GS, BlackBerry Curve 8530, Palm Pre Plus and the Nexus One

Cell phones. We live by them. They’re by our sides 24/7, wherever we are. They are our ways of connecting with the world, through texts, IM’s, or just regular calls. Getting a new one is no longer just picking up a free phone, it’s a choice of style and design. Do we want a full keyboard, something that has a good camera and music player, a simple phone that doesn’t cost much, or something completely loaded with all of the latest features? The choices are endless, no matter what carrier you’re on– Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile.

But recently there’s been a major shift in the cell phone market, led by new phones like the iPhone, Pre, BlackBerry, Droid and Nexus One. This is the rise of the smartphone (as those phones are called), phones that no longer just do texts but also email, internet, Facebook and Twitter. These phones are growing rapidly and more and more of us are switching to them when we look for new phones. Let’s take a look at why that is and where this is all leading.


Skype and Verizon Join Forces to Bring Skype to Verizon Smartphones February 17, 2010

Posted by Eli Blumenthal in Cell Phones, Mobile World Congress.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

At first you might not think so, but this recent announcement at the Mobile World Congress is BIG news. Today, Skype and Verizon announced a new partnership and smartphone app that will allow Verizon users to chat– both through Skype IM AND through calling— to Skype users around the world. The free app, which will come in late March, will be available on the BlackBerry (models Curve 8830, Storm 1 and 2, Tour, Curve 8330 and Curve 8530), as well as the Android-running Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Eris, and the upcoming Motorola Devour (a phone we’ll have more on soon–think of as less powerful Droid with full keyboard and MOTOBLUR).

The name of the app is Skype Mobile and is an “always-on app,” meaning that it will constantly running in the background. Now here’s the big part of this partnership– the calls made on Skype Mobile are made over Verizon 3G data network and will NOT use your minutes. This is huge in multiple ways– 1) for those close to running over minutes and have one of these phones, you can use this to help keep you from running over. 2) Not only do Verizon users have unlimited calling to the 90 million customers on their carrier, but now they now can also call the 500+ million Skype  users, even if those users are online internationally!

Now you will need a data plan to use Skype Mobile (though since the application is only for smartphones, and that Verizon requires data plans for all the phones mentioned above, we don’t see this as much of a problem), and yes, AT&T has recently approved a Skype iPhone app that also allows calls over 3G and not just WiFi (which by the way, this app won’t be able to do)– but this is still definitely a big win for Verizon users if for no other reason than that Verizon is finally opening up their network for Skype and hopefully other services in the very near future.

Via Verizon Wireless and Skype

Microsoft Announces the Windows Phone 7 Series– WOW! February 15, 2010

Posted by Eli Blumenthal in Cell Phones, microsoft, Mobile World Congress.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Microsoft today has finally announced the long awaited successor in it’s Windows Phone line, as was anticipated; and after watching the announcement unfold all I can say is– WOW! Yeah, if you were thinking this was similar to the tired and true Windows Mobile that we’ve seen over the years you’d be really wrong, like dead wrong. Take notice everyone– Microsoft is back in mobile, and it looks like they’re gonna be here to stay.


Windows Mobile 7 Coming This Week? February 14, 2010

Posted by Eli Blumenthal in Cell Phones, microsoft, Mobile World Congress, Rumors.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Rumored shots of Windows Mobile 7

This week is a big week for all things cell phone related with the Mobile World Congress (aka MWC) taking place in Barcelona, Spain. This event is seriously HUGE– think of it as a CES for cell phones. A lot of big stuff plan to be announced next week– newer, more powerful, and just plain better phones, new services for phones (such as TV, video calling), more info on the 4G that is set to begin being rolled out by Verizon and AT&T (as well as many other carriers around the world) later this year and early next year– but none of this seems to be as big as what Microsoft has in store.

According to the Wall Street Journal (note: subscription needed to read the whole article) and tons of other news outlets, Monday– which is the start of MWC– will finally be the day where Microsoft finally announces a truly new and much better version of Windows Mobile. We’re talking the release of Windows Mobile 7, not some small decimal point like last year’s Windows Mobile 6.5, where the OS was nearly the same as it was for most of the last decade, save for some nicer menus and an updated homescreen.

So what can we expect in this new OS that will keep it up to date with the likes of Android, webOS and the iPhone OS? If some of these rumors are true– then a lot. Everything from Zune and Xbox tie-ins (yes, Xbox– though to what extent is still very much up in the air) to a much, much better media and overall user experience (we love the Zune HD and it’s interface, which is said to play a pretty big role here throughout Windows Mobile 7). There is also talk that the Zune software will be where you sync your phone with your computer, similar to iTunes and the iPhone. There also is said to be better support for touchscreens (particularly capacitive/finger-friendly ones that don’t require a stylus, like the iPhone, Pre and most Android phones), multi-touch, a better version of Internet Explorer Mobile (which is much-needed as well), and just much more powerful hardware, which, supposedly, Microsoft is working more closely with device manufacturers to make sure all phones run this well. Heck, there is even talk Microsoft may release their own phones.

Whatever Microsoft plans to do, we’ll make sure you stay in the know. Their press conference is called for Monday at 9 AM Eastern time (or 3 PM Barcelona time), so make sure to check back Monday for all the news both and Microsoft and everything going down at MWC.

Pic from Engadget

Avoid Cell Phone Driving Distractions with ZoomSafer January 31, 2010

Posted by Eli Blumenthal in Cell Phones, CES and Macworld.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

While working on our CES coverage, we had a chance to talk with Matt Howard, founder of a software company called ZoomSafer, which is designed to prevent the urge to text and use your phone while driving.

We all know as new drivers how we shouldn’t text and drive, as it not only impairs our ability to drive properly and puts us and our car at risk, but it also puts everyone else on the road around you at risk. No text, email or Facebook update is important enough to risk your life for.

So what is ZoomSafer and how do they get rid of this urge (which we all admittedly have at times)? ZoomSafer is an app for your BlackBerry or Windows Mobile phone (the Windows Mobile app is currently in beta, with other platforms like Android also in the works) that runs in the background on your phone, and by using GPS,  senses when your driving (when it senses your GPS is going over 15 MPH) and automatically blocks incoming texts and other updates from coming up on screen and distracting you while you drive. The texts are all still there, and once you stop driving you can reply back to them as you please, but ZoomSafer prevents it from flashing all over your screen and thereby becoming a distraction.

It will also lock out your keypad to help fight the urge to send that quick text back, and will also even send out an auto-reply for you saying your driving right now and can’t text/email back. If you really need to check to see if you got a new text, ZoomSafer can read you your texts (albeit in a very computerized voice) and even let you record replies to send back. Now you can still make and receive calls, but they will need to be over a Bluetooth or other hands free device. You are the one who turns ZoomSafer off once you reach your destination, and if you are a passenger in a car and want to use your friend’s phone, you can still exit the app and use the phone and text, IM, email whoever you want (and yes, if you’re a driver and want to ignore ZoomSafer, by all means you could).

We know this seems harsh, but considering how many teen deaths are caused from distracted driving (some studies say this is the leading cause of teen deaths) and how using your phone while driving is illegal in 21 states already, we feel this is a very important PSA to mention. The app itself is free to download, though it will cost either a $2.99 monthly subscription or $25 one time fee to use, something we don’t find too bad at all considering what it could help save.

You can learn more about ZoomSafer at their site here. Video of what ZoomSafer is and how it works after the break.


Palm Introduces Pre Plus and Pixi Plus to Verizon; Updates webOS January 8, 2010

Posted by Eli Blumenthal in Cell Phones, CES and Macworld.
Tags: , , , , , ,

Yesterday at Palm’s CES keynote, CEO Jon Rubinstein announced what we’ve been waiting for since the Pre first hit one year ago— availability on carriers other than Sprint, like Verizon. Sprint’s exclusives on both the Pre and Pixi have finally run up, so Palm plans to bring some updated version of both devices to Verizon by the end of the month (January 25th!).

But that’s not all. They talked a lot on the future of webOS, something that’s good for all devices (be it Pre, Pixi or the Plus versions). Read on for exciting details on both the new phones and the new software.


Google Officially Announces the Nexus One– All the Info You Need to Know January 5, 2010

Posted by Eli Blumenthal in Cell Phones.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

Well, after loads of teasing over the last month or so, Google today finally came out and officially announced their own phone– the Nexus One. As it turns out a lot of those inital rumors were in fact spot on, but that’s not to say Google didn’t have some new surprises to show off today.


BlackBerry Tour2 Spotted– New Trackpad and All December 24, 2009

Posted by Eli Blumenthal in Cell Phones, Rumors.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

The BlackBerry Tour2, on left, next to the original BlackBerry Tour

Sprint and Verizon BlackBerry lovers listen up (and those who got the first BlackBerry Tour, you may wanna look away from this), as we got some news for you on a new version of the popular BlackBerry Tour. The Boy Genius Report has posted a brief first look and some pix of an all new BlackBerry Tour2 9560 (not sure if that a final name for the device), that looks to take everything that’s great about the first Tour, and well you know, make it even better.

So what’s better in this new Tour? A few things according to BGR a faster processor t0 make everything faster (always good), WiFi (this is great considering it was one of the biggest downsides of the first Tour), and of course that all new trackpad found on all the latest and greatest BlackBerrys. The keyboard is of course nothing short of the great keyboards BlackBerry is known, and the size is said to be about equal to that of the first Tour (meaning it should be more than comfortable to carry around in your pocket).

This is a solid update to the Tour line, and we’ll of course keep you updated as more info comes out on this new BlackBerry– but what you think possible Tour owners, you willing to hold off on that new holiday Tour for a Tour2  and willing to hold off for this to come to your carrier (said to be coming to Sprint and Verizon probably sometime next year)?

Pix and info from Boy Genius Report