Monthly Archives December 2015

Don’t Call it a Comeback: Flip Phones Here to Stay

flip phonePeople go crazy for the newest gadgets and devices, sleeping outside of stores and lining up for hours. We spend plenty of time writing about them, too. But what about the people who don’t care about the latest phone to hit the market? What about the people content to keep using their flip phone from 2005?

“They don’t exist!” you exclaim.

Wrong.

Turns out there are plenty of normal people – including those in the younger generations – happy to text on T9Word and live life otherwise app-free.

“I hate smartphones, I hate how they take over people’s lives and they spend all their time looking at them,” LG Delight flip phone enthusiast Zak Sommerfield told the Associated Press. “I’d love to stay on this phone forever.”

Sommerfield, a 35-year old software analyst from New York, is in good company. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, 64 percent of Americans have a smartphone, meaning the other 36 percent rock a basic mobile device or nothing at all.

Strangely enough, even the “cool” kids are doing it. Vogue editor Anna Wintour was spotted using an old school device last year, and Robert De Niro has admitted that he prefers the ease of use that only a flip phone can offer. Iggy Pop, Rihanna, Scarlett Johansson and Kate Beckinsale are also fans of the simplified tech.

Some are choosing it as a way to unplug. Accenture’s chief HR officer Ellyn Shook has both an iPhone and a flip phone, a choice she made after finding it impossible to stay off her smartphone in bed. A flip phone sits on her bedside table in case anyone needs to reach her overnight. She also takes it with her on weekends so she doesn’t get distracted by work when she’s spending time with her family.

I don’t think I’m quite ready to give up my smartphone and I’m not sure what I’d do without the ability to Google on a whim, but I give lots of credit to those who’ve taken the step. I’m sure they don’t break out in cold sweats when they forget their phone at home like the rest of us. Sad, but true.

Ticket Apps Are Fighting Fines

ticket appParking tickets are a pain, and with the average lawyer costing anywhere between $175-$550 and hour, it can be easier to just pay the fine. In fact, only about five percent of U.S traffic tickets are contested in court. But what if there was a way to give you a greater chance of getting the ticket dismissed on the cheap?

As it turns out, in the past year, over two dozen apps have been created trying to solve this problem.

“People are essentially priced out of lawyers,” Blue Hill Research analyst David Houlihan was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg Business article. “These kinds of applications work to increase access and availability.”

LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, GetDismissed and LegalTap are just some of the names dedicated to fighting traffic and parking tickets affordably. Some offer quick face-to-face chats, while others rely on software that detects potential dismissal-worthy errors in your case’s legal paperwork.

LegalTap, for example, launched in June and charges $39 per 15 minute chat with a lawyer. In the past six months, it has set up 1,500 video conferences with 55 attorneys. Another service, WinIt, operates out of New York and has fought over 10,000 parking tickets.

Apple Testing iPhone 7 Features

apple logoIt would be unlike Apple not to dazzle with its newest smartphone model, the highly anticipated iPhone 7. A recent leak, reported by Forbes, has suggested Apple is currently testing five different models, each of which has a design that might be surprising.

The first design would replace Apple’s signature Lightning connector with a USB Type-C port instead. Although you might groan at the thought of having to purchase a whole new array of cables, plugs, and whatnot, it turns out that Android models might switch to Type-C in 2016 too, unifying the smartphone world. The second design, changing the pace altogether, supports the movement towards wireless charging.

The third design takes the already existing technology of multi-touch – think pinch-to-zoom – and integrates it with 3D technology to create 3D Touch, allowing users to create shortcuts of sorts. For example, a three-finger touch would automatically take you back to your home screen. However, the practicality of this development is in question by critics.

The fourth design allegedly expands upon an innovation Apple wanted to include in the iPhone 6S. It is the dual camera design that would offer users the option of optical zoom, which is far more useful than the digital zoom that is standard in today’s smartphones. The fifth design, alongside ditching the Lightning port, apparently uses in-display fingerprint recognition. This means Apple could ditch the home button, and make the iPhone – in contrast to the usual smartphone trend – smaller than previous models.

Of course, not all of these redesigns will be included in the final iPhone 7 launched in 2016. It is highly probable, in fact, that few of them will make the cut. The patents prove that Apple is working on some of these technologies, and may include them in future designs.

Is Li-Fi the Future of Wireless Internet?

Li-FiYesterday we told you how Christmas lights could interfere with your Wi-Fi connection. Today, we’ll tell you about how a light bulb could be your Wi-Fi connection. Isn’t technology grand?

Li-Fi, a new Internet technology based on light has been in the works for a few years, but has now reached a new pinnacle in its development. A New Delhi start-up called Velmenni has recently used a Li-Fi enabled light bulb to transmit data at 1 GB per second, which is 100 times faster than speeds enabled by current Wi-Fi.

Velmenni used Jugnu smart LED bulbs to conduct its test, which saw the company transfer data through visible light. It posted a video of the test, in which the CEO Deepak Solanki holds a wireless device to the lightbulb and the device streams videos without any lag. However, the minute Solanki puts a hand in front of the lightbulb, the connection is broken.

Due to the limited span of Li-Fi, it has been slow to develop. It cannot travel through walls and it requires lights on at all times, which could get expensive. These limitations may be good for security reasons. It cannot be hacked by anyone who is not directly in the room. At the same time, it could be used to connect every device in an office.

In its report on the technology, the International Business Times said that the technology can theoretically reach speeds of up to 224 Gbps. Imagine downloading an HD movie in mere seconds. Incorporating Li-Fi into our daily lives could significantly improve Internet use but first developers need to find a way to integrate it with technology we already have.

Christmas Lights Could Interfere With Wi-Fi

Christmas lights could interfere with wi-fiYou’re in the middle of decking the halls when you hop onto Pinterest for a last-minute tree-trimming idea. Except the mission is anything but quick: you stare at your screen impatiently while waiting for it to load, wondering if you’re running off your dial-up connection from 1996.

Before you call your ISP to ream them out, take a look around your house. According to communications regulator Ofcom, your Christmas lights could be to blame. Overall, it estimates over 5 million homes in the UK could improve their Wi-Fi speed by simply rearranging their electronics equipment.

“It could be down to something as simple as interference from other electronic devices, such as a microwave over, baby monitor, a lamp – or even Christmas fairy lights,” states Ofcom, in a press release.

It has launched a new app allowing consumers and businesses to check their Wi-Fi set-up, test speeds and troubleshoot connection issues. It runs on tablets and smartphones.

The staff in ArsTechnica’s UK office took the app for a spin, and while they didn’t find it to be the best way to test a network, it did do a good job of identifying interference from outside sources.

“Using the app in the vicinity of a microwave, for example, data loss went from zero percent to eight percent,” wrote Mark Walton.  “That wasn’t enough to trigger a warning, although the app doesn’t offer any particularly useful advice when it does. Instead, it suggests some basic tips like moving the router, restarting the router, and ‘use an Ethernet cable,’ which most people are likely to have tried at one point or another already.”