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Smartphones: Is bigger always better?

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the latest mobile device releases these days. One maker boasts their newest smartphone has a 5.4” screen, a second points out they have a 5.5” screen, and yet another touts their chart-topping 6.4” screen. So which one is best?  Is bigger really better when it comes to smartphones?

If you’re like me, comfort is high on your list of must-haves with a new device. While I am truly tempted by the monstrous screens on the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Note 4, I would feel a bit conspicuous pulling it out in public just to send a text. However, if you ask my wife the same question, she would tell you the larger screen is a great way to catch up on her reading at the beach, for watching a video while waiting to pick up my son after school, or easily answering all of her email while on the go. I guess that means the decision is a bit like buying a pair of shoes. Make your decision based on how you will use the device, how well it suits your user style, and how well it fits you.

Personal preferences aside, there are some real-world physical limitations to keep in mind. As you can see in the graphic below, not everyone’s hand is large enough to use – let alone hold some of the larger phones currently available.

Thumbswipe resized 600

I recommend two simple tests to try before making your purchase: First, grasp each phone firmly in the space between your thumb and index finger. How much grip do you have with the larger phone? The larger phones also tend to weigh more, which can negatively impact comfort.

Second, hold the phone in one hand and swoop your thumb across the screen in an arc; much like a windshield wiper. What percentage of the screen does your thumb comfortably reach? Is it enough to cover your typical day’s app usage?

For iPhone users, Apple built in some help for those with limited reach: Tap the home button lightly twice, and everything at the top of the screen jumps to the middle, making it much easier to access – regardless of phone size. Additionally, some apps like iMessage have controls that live in the lower right corner, near your thumb.

Most users with large phones end up learning how to operate them with two hands, or developing “unusual” ways to hold them. I feel that if you start looking like a contortionist, you might want to consider moving to a smaller phone.

Another often overlooked part of the purchase decision comes from answering the question: “How will I carry this”? Does the phone fit into your typical pants or shirt pocket? How about a small “evening out” purse or your everyday “mom bag”? There’s nothing in my wardrobe that a large phone wouldn’t fit comfortably into, and my wife could hide a full-size PC in the day-to-day bag that she lugs around.

After all that, what’s the best advice I can give? It’s actually quite simple: Try the new device on for size before making a purchase; and don’t just try one – test drive a couple of alternatives. Your wireless retailer genuinely wants you to leave happy and satisfied with your shiny new purchase, so take the time to choose wisely.

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Verizon's Family Locator Helps You Keep Track of Loved Ones

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  

In today’s fast-paced, always-on-the-go world, families often have to deal with wondering “where is everyone”? Fortunately, there is a simple tech solution to this problem, and it’s probably already in your pocket! With Family Locator, you can keep tabs on your family’s whereabouts whether they’re at work, school, the mall, or even an outdoor event.

How It Works
It’s easy to get started using your Verizon Wireless account. Once you add Family Locator to your account, you simply send a text message to the phone of everyone in your family that you would like to be able to monitor. Once your family’s devices have been enabled*, you simply log on to the Family Locator portal on your PC to set up profiles, add locations such as school or work, and schedule text or email alerts for each phone. Once this is done, you’ll be able to receive updates with the location of your family member’s phones, so you can keep your loved ones close even when they are far away.

What it Does
-Locate Your Family Anytime: Get locations, including street address, a detailed map, and turn-by-turn directions to every family member.
-Receive Arrival and Departure Updates: Family Locator will text or email you when family members leave predetermined locations such as work, school, or home.
-Schedule Automatic Updates: Have Family Locator find your family members at a certain time and text or email you with their locations.
-Stay Connected with Family Messaging: Text family members after locating them with the integrated messaging feature.

Bonus Features
For your younger family members, there is an excellent free add-on that allows you to manage the content they receive on their mobile devices. Parents can choose from 3 tiers of filtering: Children 7+, Teens 13+, and Young Adults 17+. By setting these simple boundaries, you can protect your children from questionable content even if you aren’t around to help guide them.

Have a teen driver in your family? Get an estimate of how fast they are driving each time you locate their device. Let them know you care by watching out for their safety while they are on the road.

With Family Locator, you can monitor as much or as little as you feel appropriate, and caring about your family has gotten a little bit easier thanks to technology. Visit your local Wireless Zone® Retailer to learn more.

 

VZW blog family locator resized 600

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Wireless Zone App Of The Month: Battery Doctor

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  

App of the month: Battery Doctor

Let’s face it; everyone has had their battery run out of juice at some point in their ultra-connected life. Today’s smartphones are power hogs compared to the simpler days when flip phones ruled the landscape. HD screens, GPS locators, streaming media, and constant Facebook updates all combine to quickly deplete what is already a finite resource.

Enter Battery Doctor (Android / iOS). Our October App of the Month is a great way to keep track of your power consumption based on what you use your device for most. It also shows how to conserve that precious resource by disabling functions or apps that are silently reducing your air time, and provides different charging modes for your device to maximize battery life. The high point of the app is the one-touch optimization feature to really save you time and energy. (Pun intended)

If you still find that your battery runs out at the most inopportune moment, don’t give up hope just yet. You can always add a car charger to your glovebox, or for the best protection, a Mophie Juice Pack will provide you with nearly double the power! Stop by Your local Wireless Zone® Retailer to see how we can help.

 

battery doctor resized 600

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Softcard: The new way to pay with your phone

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  

Softcard is an exciting new way to make electronic payments while you’re on the go. Instead of wasting time fumbling for credit cards and worrying if your data is being compromised, Softcard offers a quick and easy way to pay, while also protecting your important financial information.

The secret to Softcard’s success is already embedded in most current Android smartphones. The NFC chip allows your phone to complete a secure data transfer using something called (appropriately enough) “Near-Field Communications”. Much like how your laptop communicates with your router at home, your phone now becomes your credit card. Simply place it near an NFC- enabled checkout terminal at one of over 200,000 (and growing) local merchants, enter your PIN, and the transaction is completed. It’s really that simple. Plus, if the phone is ever lost or stolen, you can freeze your phone’s wallet to protect your assets with a single click or call.

Through Verizon’s partnership with American Express, there are a number of promotions that make changing the way you pay even more attractive. From instant credits to cash back, there’s no reason not to give it a try.

 

softcard img resized 600

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The LG G3: Crashing the flagship device party

Posted by Chris Cardinal
  
  
  
  
  
  

As the last entry into the top tier device group for 2014, LG had a lot to live up to. Given the overwhelming success of the Galaxy S5 and the juggernaut that is the iPhone, there was little room for another player.  With the G3 LG has met the challenge and in some cases, surpassed their competition.

With the G3, LG has taken an Android power-user’s wish list and packed it into a sleek device that boasts features such as: 2.5GHZ Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM (wow), 32GB of built-in storage with support for micro SD cards up to 128GB (again, wow), a 13 megapixel camera (with infrared laser focus!), and of course an amazing QuadHD screen. The G3 also holds its own in the looks department with a sleek brushed metal look body that just feels “right” in your hand. The G3 is easily the most user-friendly phone with a screen size of 5.5 inches.

So how does it perform in day to day use? One word: Amazing.  Even with a benchmark-setting display and screaming processor, it can easily run for an entire day under moderate to heavy use on a single battery charge. Speaking of the battery, another great feature of the G3 is its removable battery; which means you can always carry a quick-change spare if you are an ultra-heavy power user of your mobile device. LG put a lot of research into battery life, and it shows bright and clear in the final product. The 13 megapixel camera takes excellent photos, even under low light, which is the true test of any camera. The more I use it, the more I like it and appreciate the exceptional effort that went into its design. Stop by your local Wireless Zone® Retailer to take a test drive and see the difference for yourself.

Thanks LG!

TECH SPECS:  

LG G3

Dimensions

146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9mm (curved)

Weight

5.26 oz. (149g)

Screen size

5.5 inches

Screen resolution

2,560 x 1,440 (534 ppi)

Screen type

IPS LCD

Battery

3,000mAh Li-Ion (removable)

Internal storage

32GB

External storage

Up to SDXC standard/2TB theoretical

Rear camera

13MP with OIS

Front-facing cam

2.1

Video capture

3,840 x 2,160 (4K)/30 fps

NFC

Yes

Radios

SK Telecom/ Korean Model:
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900)
UMTS/HSPA+ up to 21 Mbps (850/900/1900/2100)

LTE (800/1800/2600)

Bluetooth

v4.0

SoC

Qualcomm Snapdragon 801

CPU

2.5GHz quad-core

GPU

Adreno 330

RAM

3GB

Multimedia

SlimPort/DLNA

Wi-Fi

Dual-band, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

Wireless Charging

Yes

Operating system

Android 4.4.2 (near stock)

 lg g3 3 resized 600

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4 Ways to Improve Your Selfie (Using Your Smartphone's Camera)

Posted by Kevin Downs
  
  
  
  
  
  

Capturing the best YOU.

 

Everybody's doing it! Even if you don't like your picture snapped (like me) ocassionally you want to get yourself and a friend, or update a profile picture, so here are a few ways to improve upon the selfie.

1. Use Accessories
A few weeks ago I talked about a few Selfie Accessories like the Shutterball that will help you get that great picture that doesn't have a bathroom mirror behind it. Those are the worst!


2. Use Your Self Timer
I can't think of a single smartphone cameras that doesn't have a self timer. Why is this helpful? You can set it and know when to strike a pose without having to manage to hit the shutter. Most Samsung smartphone cameras and many others also have a voice feature you can turn on so all you have to do is say "cheese" and it will snap the picture. You need to go to Settings>Voice Control Turn it on, then make sure Camera is checked. Now when you take a picture you can say Shoot or Smile or Cheese and it will snap the photo, shutter button finger free!

 

3. Take advantage of the camera technology

The Samsung Galaxy S5 sports a feature that uses the front-facing and the rear camera at the same time. You can take a selfie and a picture of some amazing landmark behind you in one photo (without having to do any editing.)
The HTC One M8 has dual rear cameras that can create some really cool 3D effects. But more importantly, it has a selfie picture type editing feature. Do you want to make your face look a little thinner, maybe you want your eyes bigger or more sparkly! You won't believe what this phone can do!

 

4. If all else fails, use an app

If you phone is lacking in the camera feature mentioned above, there are plenty of apps and filters designed specifically for selfies. Pixtr and Facetune, can smooth wrinkles, brighten you smile and and chisel your look. CamMe works with gesture comtrols so you can avoid the selfie "look."  Selfie Cam uses smile detection to activate the shutter. Frontback combines the front and rear facing pictures.

 

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Must-Have Apps for Your Smartphone

Posted by Kevin Downs
  
  
  
  
  
  

There are tons of apps being developed on a daily basis. I am always on the lookout for cool new apps. Here's my Must-Have app criteria

  1. No one knew you could do this with your phone
  2. I can't wait to tell my techie friends about it
  3. Blows my productivity through the roof
  4. I can't put it down
  5. Solves a problem/Takes care of a need (You may not have known you had!)
  6. Wows me in general

If an app hits on 1, 2 and 3 it's blog worthy, so this is why I'm writing this article.

Touchtones
The first app is called TouchTunes. With it you can control Juke boxed in about 60,000 bars. This app acts as a remote jukebox allowing you to search music available and even play music from your own mobile device. Now you can see why this hits my #1 criteria! This app could get me in trouble! Irt's available on iPhone and Android. The app is free but you'll have to pay for the jukebox plays. Who cares, right? you can skip over the run of awful country music selections some bleeding heart stacked up!

Tinder
Are you looking to meet someone online? Are you tired of all the hookup apps? Tinder is a spinoff of Facebook. You are probably already on Facebook so what Tinder does is it lets you get a look at people within the criteria you set, then you simply swipe one way for yes and the other for no. Then the only people that can reach out to you are people you've previously ok'd that want to meet you as well. That'll save a lot of time from undesirable people that you'd never consider dating, never mind texting, from sending you messages! The other cool thing is that using your Facebook criteria, it'll show how far this person is away, their first name, and any likes or friends you have in common. You can also message right through the app.

Cover
Cover is a really cool screen lock that enables you to have the apps you use readily available. It can also separate them to car, home and work. Using GPS it can determine where you are so it will make the appropriate screen available. Oh yeah, and it's really sharp looking. You can chose from preloaded photos or use your own. Sorry iPhone peeps, it only works on Android.

TimePIN

TimePIN is really clever for people who either can't remember their PIN or never change it which makes it susceptible to hacking. All you do is put the current time in so at 2;16 your PIN is 0216. As long as you don't let on you are using this app no one will ever hack your code and you'll never forget it...unless you forget you have the app! Sorry, iPhone fans, this is another Android specific app.

CallBlocker
I am always getting asked how to block calls and text messages. With SPAM on the rise CallBlocker is great for both unwanted calls and texts and you don't have to log into your carriers website to do it. Android(free)  iOS($4.99)

 

 

 




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Take Pictures Like a Pro Using Your Smartphone

Posted by Cellular Chloe
  
  
  
  
  
  

I come from a photography background and I don't mind telling you, the cameras on smartphones have gotten pretty dam impressive. There are so many good features and apps that will help you take pictures like a pro. I am going to give you some tips and apps that will improve your photos and enable you to do some pretty cool effects.

Old School Photography Tips (Oldies but goodies)

  • Don't shoot into the sun. If the sun is behind you, your subject will be better illuminated. You may have to adjust slightly if the sun is causing them to squint. If you can't get the postion right, force the device to flash to fill in unwanted shadows.
  • Use flash indoors, especially if there is ANY movement. Unless you are going for the natural look, using flash indoors will eliminate the yellow blurred photos.
  • Use the rule of thirds. The most aesthetically pleasing photos are the result of splitting your frame into thirds. Position horizons one third up instead of exactly in the middle, and people one third in from the left or right. Just be sure you have locked the focus on the subject.

Accessories

There are some accessories that will make your phototaking a snap (no pun intended). One of the best accessories to have is a tripod. Smartphones don't have a tripod mount so you can get something like a Grip Tight Gorilla Pod that will grip your smartphone.

Another really cool accessory is the Shutterball. With it you can take selfies or delfies (duo selfies) without trying to hold the device and hit the shutter button. Some phones are easier to take pictures with than others but the bigger the phone, the trickier to hold it, stabilize it and tap the shutter. Shutterball comes with an accompanying app that allows the phone to connect to the Shutterball via Bluetooth and when you go to take the picture you only need to hit the button on the Shutterball. A Grip Tight Gorilla Pod would work out nicely if you take a lot of group shots.

shutterball

Lapse It


Lapse It is an awesome app that will allow you to take time lapse photos using any smartphone. You may want to get an accessory that allows you to mount your phone, like a Gorilla Pod.

Events such as movement of clouds, the rising and setting of the sun, a party with your friends, even individual activities or anything else that you can imagine. You will see them in a new way and otherwise undetectable patterns will emerge.

Features:

  • Native version both for iOS and Android
  • Powerful and blazing fast render engine
  • Well designed UI improving visual and usability
  • Capture resolution up to 1080p on the Pro version
  • Capture interval starting at one second
  • Cool effects applied while capturing or before rendering
  • No restrictions for capture length or frames
  • On screen information during capture
  • Upload directly to YouTube, Facebook and many others
  • Easily adjustable settings
  • Tested and approved by more then 500.000 people

 

 

Photaf


Way back in the day, a camera that was able to take 360 photos cost over $20,000. Now all you need is your smartphone and an app that will stitch it all together. Photaf does an amazing job.

Aviary

Aviary is by far my favorite smartphone photo editor. It is easy to use and has akl the tools you need. If you want to do instagram type effects you can do those as well. This is the only photo editor I ever use on my Samsung Note 3 and I use my pix all the time for blog articles etc. 

  • One-tap auto enhance
  • Gorgeous photo effects and frames
  • Fun stickers
  • Color balance
  • Crop, rotate, and straighten your photo
  • Adjust brightness, contrast, color temperature, and saturation
  • Sharpen and blur
  • Color temperature ("Warmth")
  • Color Splash Focus
  • Tilt Shift Draw and add text
  • Create your own memes
  • Cosmetic tools: fix redeye, remove blemishes and whiten teeth

PhotoGrid

This is a fun app but it's also great for organizing pictures into a grid or collage or filmstrip for posting to Facebook or even printing. Using the above pictures of Shutterball as an example, here is a nicer way to present the photos using PhotoGrid
Photogrid shutterball

GrooveBook

Gone are the days you'd bring your roll of film to the 1-hour photo and get your part, vacation or holiday pictures back to show everyone. Now it's even easier, you take the microSD card out of your phone and go to any department or drug store to a kiosk where you can pick and choose the photos you want. Do you do that? No? Me either. And I know why. It's just as easy to show people your pictures right on your phone. Why bother printing them out? Well what if you want to frame them or create a collage gift for a friend or share a group photo with everyone in the group. What if someone you want to share with doesn't have a smartphone. It's still nice to hold a photo in your hand.
Groovebook is a really neat concept I found out about on SharkTank. You subscribe for $2.99 a month and get 100 photos printed and sent to you in an easy tear out book. And you don't have to leave the comfort of your....well, wherever you are comfortable. You can bail at anytime if you don't want to continue using the service, otherwise it's a no-brainer!
I hope you find some of these cool photo tips and apps helpful. Photo apps are among my favorite!

Peace out
-CC

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Tagg Pet Tracker Lets Your Locate Your Pet on Your Mobile Device

Posted by Cellular Chloe
  
  
  
  
  
  

If you have a pet, hopefully you are like me, and treat it like a part of your family. Well, why wouldn't you? They are easier to train than your kids, they don't talk back like your spouse and they are always genuinely happy to see you. The only drawback is feeding them and you'd have to feed another member of your family anyway but it's all in return for uncionditional love, all the time. So you wouldn't want that to go missing, right?
Just recently a woman in the Hartford area came home to her house burgularized and her beloved dogs missing. If you are an animal person, you can imagine how hearbreaking that is.


Because of all the fascinating technology available, there are ways to track and locate your pet. It's easy enough to track phones as they have GPS built-in but it's becoming increasingly easier to tack all kinds of things, luggage, your wallet, a bicycle, why not your pet? Tagg offers a great solution in the form of a tracker that attaches right to your pet's collar.
taggdogwcollar

The Tagg™ pet tracking system allows you to track your pet’s location and activity from your computer or right on your mobile device. You can see where your dog is or monitor his activity levels 24/7. The lightweight pet tracker attaches to your pet's existing collar, and is designed to be worn at all times, even while swimming. It turns your existing collar into a gps collar for your pet!

Imagine you are at work and someone calls and says they think they saw your dog running around your neighborhood. Unlike a microchip, which won’t alert you if your pet is lost, Tagg is a GPS pet tracker that sends you a text and/or email (depending on the preferences you set) when your pet gets out so you can locate him right away. If you get a call like that you can look on your mobile device and know that your pet is home safe and sound.

Tagg pet tracker

With the built-in activity tracker, you can monitor your pet’s activity levels and spot long-term trends. Veterinarians recommend that dogs get 30-60 minutes exercise a day. Tagg allows you to determine if your dog is getting enough, so you can be proactive about his health.

I love Tagg for the occasions when I have to send me dog to a kennel or have a pet sitter, I can make sure they are providing the exercise I requested. It's like having a nanny-cam (without the actual video) attached to your pet!

Give yourself some piece of mind and start tracking your pet. This devices can be purchased at Wireless Zone stores. Be advised, not all stores will have them in stock but they can order one for you. Call your local store for details and availability.

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A Cell Phone Picture Is Worth 1000 Words and 1000TB of Data

Posted by Cellular Chloe
  
  
  
  
  
  

Typing words into Google is so last year. Even speech to text to search

Google is so five minutes ago! The hip way to search now is with a picture! Whoever first said "A picture is worth a thousand words" must have time traveled to see what Google had to offer.
Here are a few apps that will enable you to use your phones' camera to get all the information  you need and then some about a subject that you took a picture of.

 


Google Googles

Since Google is a powerhouse of knowledge, having an app that will check algorythms against their database of images will allow you to scan almost any picture and identify it (unless you are trying to identify yourself in a selfie!) I have used it to identify plants to avoid, like poison ivy as well as plants I wanted to buy like lemongrass. You can alos snap a picture out of a magazine, the cover of a book or a CD or even artwork. This app is fantastic. Android Apple

google googles

  • Scan barcodes using Goggles to get product information
  • Scan QR codes using Goggles to extract information
  • Recognize famous landmarks
  • Translate by taking a picture of foreign language text
  • Add Contacts by scanning business cards or QR codes
  • Scan text using Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
  • Recognize paintings, books, DVDs, CDs, and just about any 2D image
  • Solve Sudoku puzzles
  • Find similar products


Vivino

Ever have a glass of wine at a bar or a party you wanted to remember so you could buy it for yourself? Vinino will let you scan the label and retrieve all the information you'll want to know, like ratings, price and info about the winery. More importantly, you can save all your scans for future reference.

vivino app vivino results 
















  • Take a photo and get to know any wine in seconds
  • Remember wines and explore more of them
  • Get personalized wine recommendations
  • Share experiences and be inspired by friends
  • Find the best rated wines in nearby shops

Homesnap

Have you driven by a house on a weekend that was close to what your dream house might look like and want to know the deets right away? Snap a picture in Homesnap and let your phone do the rest.

Homesnap

  • Get 20% more agent-listed homes than national portals
  • The same MLS data used by real estate agents
  • Add search filters like neighborhood, price, beds, baths, etc.
  • Get notified when new real estate listings meet your exact criteria
  • Log in to see your saved searches and faves across all devices
  • Connect with your own agent or one of our local pros

Free for REALTORS:

  • See your connected clients' snaps in real-time
  • Your brand on every home your clients see
  • Your clients can contact you directly with one tap

Greenscans

greenscan greenscan result
 
greenscan app 

Greenscan is a barcode scanner like no other! This mobile app that scans the barcode label on your favorite fruits and vegetables and discovers all the logistics of it's trip from the tree to your store!

  • Discover how produce tastes and how to properly select it
  • Learn nutrition information
  • Get tasty recipe ideas
  • Meet the growers

Amazon

Last but certainly not least is the mobile app for best shopping site ever. essentially the app is just the mobile version of Amazon's shopping app but it has a unique feature of allowing you to snap a photo to use in searching for an item. Using the photos below as an example, I took a photo of an SD card and used it in my seach. The next screen gives me a few buying options of the photo I sent.

AMAZON MOBILE PICTURE SEARCH Amazon mobile shopping app 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next time you are about to ask Siri a question, think about how much more info your camera might fetch for you!

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