Tag Archives: Mobile

LeapBand Is the First Activity Tracker for Kids


The LeapBand is the first activity tracker for kids.
Image: LeapFrog

Kids love to get their hands on the tech their parents have — tablets, smartphones, cameras, cars — so it’s only natural they’d want what every adult seems to be tinkering with these days: fitness trackers. And with the wearables market heating up, it makes sense that the toy industry is ready to ride the wristband wave too.

The LeapBand (manufactured by toy company LeapFrog) is a watered down version of what you might see in an adult fitness tracker — the Fitbit, Jawbone and Nike+ Fuelband (RIP) devices of the world. It monitors and rewards kids for the activities they do and has a Tamagotchi-like virtual pet baked in. The more a child moves, the more points they earn to unlock new games or win treats for their on-screen cat, dog, dragon, penguin, panda or unicorn.

The LeapBand ($39), which hits stores in August, is specifically designed for kids ages 4 to 7. It comes with a built-in accelerometer, a rechargeable battery and a high-resolution (128 x 128) screen, with backlighting. It will be available in three flavors (pink, blue and green) and is made of plastic.

LeapFrog is best known for its tablets for children (the LeapPad line), so it’s fitting that it’s among the first toy companies to enter the wearables space. Earlier this year, VTech announced the world’s first smartwatch for kids, the KidiZoom Smart Watch. Although it doesn’t connect to the Internet like its adult-counterpart smartwatches (so it’s not technically a “smartwatch”), the 1.4-inch touchscreen device allows young users to snap photos, take video and play games directly through the watch. The device will hit the market this fall.

The growth of toys like this comes at a time when wearables as a tech category is still in its infancy, but it’s believed that the rumored Apple iWatch will launch wearables into the mainstream.

The iWatch is projected to have a huge fitness component; not only will it have a heart-rate monitor and other ways to track your body in real time, it will likely come with Nike’s Fuelband software built into the device.

BONUS: The Reinvented Tamagotchi: Bright, Flashy and Just as Needy

Sandy Prompts FCC Hearings on Communications Outages


The Federal Communications Commission announced on Wednesday it will hold field hearings examining ways to keep communications systems up and running during natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy.

Lawmakers called for probes into communications outages after Sandy left as much as 25% of cell sites in its path inoperable when it hit the East Coast in October.

“This unprecedented storm has revealed new challenges that will require a national dialogue around ideas and actions to ensure the resilience of communications networks,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.

The hearings will start in 2013, with the first round in New York and continuing in other disaster-prone areas of the country.

In the wake of Sandy, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called for the FCC to determine where system weaknesses exist and develop plans to make communications networks more resilient.

“Field hearings will increase our understanding of the problems encountered during Superstorm Sandy and harvest the best ideas to ensure that mobile phone service doesn’t fail after future storms,” he said in a statement after the FCC announced the hearings. “Mobile communication has become an essential part of our lives, and increasing its reliability must be a top priority.”

Several House Democrats have also called for a congressional hearing on the issue.

Harold Feld, senior vice president at the consumer group Public Knowledge, said he hopes the outages will lead to federal standards for communications networks.

“Hopefully, the experience with Sandy underscores how dependent we as a nation have become on these networks, and that the federal government does indeed have a role in setting minimum standards for preparedness and response,” he said.

Image courtesy of Flickr, edenpictures

This article originally published at National Journal

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/11/21/sandy-fcc-outages/

Why an Amazon Phone Makes Sense


Image: Mashable composite. iStock, webphotography

Amazon is holding an event in Seattle in a couple of weeks, and everyone’s invited. Really — anyone in the world can theoretically sign up, although the company says space is limited.

Democratizing a tech launch event — typically a very insider-y affair — is an uncommon, if gimmicky move, although it suggests that what Amazon has up its sleeve is pretty big. Whatever Amazon will unveil, teased in a comically vague video, will certainly be aimed squarely at a mainstream audience, and the most credible report so far says it’ll be an Amazon-branded smartphone.

Rumors about an Amazon smartphone have circulated since the company unveiled its first Kindle Fire tablets back in 2011. For almost any hardware manufacturer, it makes sense to offer both a tablet and a phone — usually several.

After all, the technologies are virtually identical, so why only make one or the other when you could have a hand in both markets?

Not your father’s Amazon

But Amazon isn’t a typical hardware manufacturer. The company doesn’t make the Kindle Fire tablets because it excels at building devices — it makes them solely for the purpose of putting the company’s digital services, such as Amazon Instant Video and the Kindle bookstore, front and center in a customer’s tablet experience.

“With their tablet product, [Amazon] undercut the competition and did very well,” says Tuong Nguyen, a research analyst at Gartner. “But I don’t know what they can possibly offer me … that would be compelling enough that would make me want to have an Amazon phone.”

For a company that’s all about selling content, building a device that consumers want to use to consume that content (i.e. a tablet) is a logical move, and the strategy has worked pretty well so far. Apple’s iPad is the clear leader in the tablet space, but Amazon’s Kindle Fire devices have done very well by all accounts.

Smartphone owners use their devices differently from tablets, though, so the content-consumption logic doesn’t translate so well to that device. Add to that a market that’s already extremely crowded, and the headaches of dealing with wireless carriers and technologies, and you can see why Amazon has ignored the smartphone space so far.

But there are two major market forces that could be factoring into Amazon’s decision that now is a good time to enter the smartphone market. The first is that tablet sales have flatlined: People aren’t buying them at the same clip as they used to, even though prices are at an all-time low.

“If Amazon is trying to gain a bigger footprint, then tablets have limits,” says Harry Wang, director of mobile product research at Parks Associates. “The next frontier is the shift to smartphones, because that’s a bigger market.”

Second is the rise of the phablet. Smartphones with big screens have been popular for a while, with the average size of a flagship Android phone now a little over 5 inches. Some are over 6, and there are rumors of even 7-inch phones on the way. With larger screens and ever-faster processing power, today’s phablets are almost as good as tablets at “consumption.”

If Amazon is feeling the squeeze on tablet sales, it would likely see the smartphone market next door — an order of magnitude larger — and decide it couldn’t ignore that opportunity any longer. Building the hardware would be relatively easy, given its Kindle legacy.

Standing out from the crowd

Of course, in today’s smartphone market, hardware’s the easy part. What’s hard is differentiation — giving customers a reason to pick your phone over competitors. Amazon’s teaser video appeared to imply that some kind of visual feature (3D holograms, perhaps?) would make its new smartphone stand out.

Whatever the novelty is, it’s almost definitely not what people will buy an Amazon phone for. Innovative hardware might generate headlines, but it doesn’t sell phones, where people mainly care about design, user experience and app availability.

A hologram that moves with your head will get pretty old by the second day, and competitors would soon replicate the feature anyway. “We’re not about hardware anymore,” says Nguyen. “It’s all about eyeballs.”

Amazon has other ways to differentiate its smartphone, however. It could offer an new kind of app or service that’s exclusive to owners. An Amazon phone could offer a custom-designed mobile shopping experience, which would be attractive to many users. Parks Associates says 39% of all smartphone owners use retail apps — and that they’re used, on average, only slightly less than video apps such as Netflix and YouTube.

More likely, Amazon will launch its phone with a new pricing model. The company has always been aggressive in pricing its Kindle tablets, and it’ll no doubt do the same with a theoretical smartphone.

What would really take things to the next level, however, would be if Amazon offered its smartphone with a free (or nearly free) data plan. The company already sells LTE versions of its Kindle Fire tablets with free limited data. What if it convinced just one carrier to extend that model to a phone?

Whatever the pricing model ends up being, you can bet Amazon Prime membership will factor in. Chances are high that any owner of Amazon hardware is also a Prime member (Kindle e-readers excepted). The service will likely come bundled with the smartphone in some way; perhaps Prime members will get discounts on wireless services.

“They already have about 22 million prime members,” says Wang. To those members, he adds, “Amazon could offer a great value in a smartphone.”

Will creative pricing be enough to convince people to buy Amazon’s smartphone? If the hardware is good enough — and there’s no reason to believe it won’t be — there’s a good chance. In any case, Amazon is feeling enough desperation and hubris (if those delivery drones are any indication) to make a go of it.

Amazon launching a smartphone would be unusual, risky and probably gimmicky, but there are ways it could work. And if Jeff Bezos has that market in his sights, a year from now it may be hard to imagine a world without a Kindle phone.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/06/05/amazon-phone-sense/

NASA, ‘Angry Birds’ Team Up to Explore the Red Planet


There is life on Mars — and it’s out for revenge against some nasty pigs!

Angry Birds creators Rovio announced a new chapter to Angry Birds Space will come out Thursday. The update is titled “Red Planet”, and will send players to the fields of Mars for more bird-on-pig rivalry.

NASA helped Rovio create the trailer by giving them footage taken by the Mars Rover Curiosity from the planet’s surface. In addition, the additional levels will include NASA vehicles as part of the architecture.

“Rovio is teaching huge new audiences about NASA’s missions to Mars thanks to this collaboration,” said David Weaver, associate administrator for communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It’s a great way to introduce both kids and adults to the wonders of the planet in a fun and entertaining way.”

It’s not the first partnership between the two. When Angry Birds Space debuted in March, NASA Flight Engineer Don Pettit demonstrated the physics behind Angry Birds — while in space.

“We’re huge NASA fans, and we were all cheering the Mars Curiosity rover as it touched down,” said Peter Vesterbacka, chief marketing officer of Rovio Entertainment. “So, working together on the Mars update was a perfect fit.”

Players can download the updates for the iOS [iTunes link] and Android [Google Play link] versions right now.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/08/23/angry-birds-mars/

Get Up to $400 For Your iPhone 4S


Interested in trading in your iPhone 4S for an iPhone 5? Most of the popular smartphone-buyback services are offering good prices for Apple’s previous generation smartphone.

This can be a great way to recoup the cost of a new phone — especially if you aren’t eligible for an upgrade or are switching to another carrier.

The iPhone 5 announcement means that tons of older iPhone devices are about to hit the secondary market. As we’ve seen in the past, that flood of devices can lower the buyback amount companies are willing to pay for your device. If you’re interested in selling your device to a buyback service, lock in now, rather than later.

THE LATEST: iPhone 5 Unveiled | iPhone 5 vs. Competitors | More of iOS 6 | Thinner iPod Nano | iPod Touch With Siri | New iTunes | New iPhone Dock Connector | New Earbuds, EarPods

We looked at what the most popular buyback services are paying for the iPhone 4S. As of 8:30 p.m. ET, this is what we found:

iPhone 4S 64GB, AT&T or Unlocked

The 64GB iPhone 4S is the most expensive model, and that’s what we used to base our pricing on in this test.

The best offer we saw for the 64GB iPhone 4S is courtesy of eBay’s Instant Sale.

Instant Sale will pay $400 for a working, fully functional 64GB iPhone 4S. The device needs to be fully functional, have no physical damage and include the charger.

The popular trade-in service Gazelle will pay $350 for a 64GB iPhone 4S on AT&T. Earlier today, Gazelle was offering $400 for the same unit, which means that trade-in volume is already impacting buyback offers.

Like Gazelle, NextWorth is offering $350 for a 64GB iPhone 4Sat&t/). The device needs to be working and cannot have a cracked display.

Amazon’s Trade-In program will pay up to $391 on an Amazon gift card for a 64GB iPhone 4S. Amazon will actually pay $460 on a gift card for a “like new” iPhone 4S, but Amazon’s requirements for what constitutes “like new” is stricter than most other companies. It needs the original packaging and should be presentable as a gift.

At Apple’s Reuse and Recycle website, powered by PowerON, the company will offer a $345 gift card for a 64GB iPhone 4S.

Note: With the exception of Amazon and eBay Instant Sale, Sprint and Verizon iPhone 4S models go for significantly less than their AT&T counterparts.

Other Models

The buyback price for other models will depend on carrier and location. eBay Instant Sale, at the time of this writing, is offering the highest cash buyback amounts for most phone models.

Amazon.com is offering a better buyback price for some models; however, users need to keep in mind that they will be paid with an Amazon gift card, not cash.

Gazelle, NextWorth and Apple all vary depending on when you lock in your deal and what model you are trading in.

A number of services are also offering good rates for iPhone 4 trade-ins.

Are you going to sell off your old iPhone? Let us know in the comments!

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, hocus-focus

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/13/iphone-4s-trade-in/

You Can Now Use LastPass to Log Into Android Apps Automatically


The Samsung Galaxy S5 runs on Android software.

Password management service LastPass, which stores passwords on a secure online service to automatically log users into websites, has rolled out automatic password entry to Android apps and the smartphone’s Chrome browser.

So for LastPass users on Android, the days of manually entering passwords into apps and websites are over.

“It takes the concept of our desktop functionality — recognizing what page you’re on and looking for a match stored in your vault — but is adapted for the Android accessibility feature,” Amber Gott, a LastPass spokesperson, told Mashable. “Once the option is enabled in the LastPass Android app, LastPass can now ‘see’ when you’re on an app login page, and then can hover and let you know if you have a matching login.”

The news comes just a few weeks after competing password management service PasswordBox enabled a similar automatic entry feature. Previously, LastPass users needed to copy and paste passwords from the LastPass app to log into native apps and sites.

The feature is available for apps on devices with Android 4.1 and later and Chrome on smartphones running 4.3 and later. It also supports Dolphin HD and Firefox mobile browsers, too.

LastPass Netflix

Although the functionality adds a big convenience on Android, it’s unclear if and when the feature will ever come to iOS devices.

“Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t have an equivalent that allows us to hook into the OS and securely deliver users their data,” a LastPass spokesperson told Mashable. “We’re still looking into it and hope that further updates to iOS may allow us to implement something similar.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/03/26/lastpass-autofill-android-app/

The Air Force’s New Ultra-Fast Jet Has an Epic Fail


The X-51A Waverider — a hypersonic technology that could one day transport passengers from London to New York in an hour — launched successfully on Tuesday off the coast of California, but failed to complete its full mission, according to the Air Force.

The Waverider, which was attached from the wing of a B-52 bomber, separated as planned. However, after 16 seconds in the air, one of its cruiser control fins malfunctioned and it was unable to maintain control. Program officials are currently determining what went wrong. Before the mission, the Air Force said they wouldn’t be recovering the Waverider.

The U.S. Air Force, NASA and the Pentagon are collectively testing a new kind of technology that can reach “hypersonic” speeds within the atmosphere, defined as anything above Mach 5. The X-51A Waverider was expected to hit Mach 6 for about 300 seconds later before crashing into the Pacific Ocean. The flight would also transmit data back to the testers.

“It is unfortunate that a problem with this subsystem caused a termination before we could light the Scramjet engine,” said Charlie Brink, X-51A Program Manager for Air Force Research Laboratory, in a statement. “All our data showed we had created the right conditions for engine ignition and we were very hopeful to meet our test objectives.”

The Waverider was designed to propel itself with a combination of scramjet technology, which uses oxygen from the atmosphere as fuel, and its ability to ride the shockwave it generates from breaking the sound barrier. The Air Force hopes future weapons may be able to use the tech to evade anti-missile systems, since no missile can travel as fast.

The technology also has the potential to transport cargo and even people across the world in minutes instead of hours and days. The program was developed in 2004 and is said to have cost about $140 million, according to military analysis site GlobalSecuriy.org. This was the third of four Waveriders built.

“This particular control subsystem had proven reliable in the previous two flights of the X-51A including the historic May 2010 flight when the Waverider flew for more than three minutes at Mach 4.88 under scramjet power – nearly five times the speed of sound,” the U.S. Airforce said in a statement.

It’s unknown at this time if the remaining vehicle will fly.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/08/15/the-air-forces-new-ultra-fast-jet-has-an-epic-fail/

Mashable Weekend Recap: 60 Stories You Might Have Missed


You might think mid-summer is kind of quiet here at Mashable HQ, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This weekend was rip-roaring, rollicking and all those other “R” words — full of news, views, ballyhoo and woo woo, and we gathered all of it together right here, just for you.

So start your week right, check out all of our posts we did over the weekend here on the Weekend Recap, and then go out there and make it your best week yet.

Editor’s Picks

Sneak Peek: iPad 7? Features Unicorn Horns, Levitation [SUNDAY COMICS]

Advertisers Need to Pay Attention to Connected TV [INFOGRAPHIC]

Next iPhone Will Debut in Fall, Japanese Blog Reports [VIDEO]

Richard Branson Announces Satellite-Carrying ‘LauncherOne’

Top 10 Pinterest Pins This Week

6 Apps You Don’t Want To Miss

Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]

News & Opinion

Nokia Knocks Lumia 900 Price Down to $50

How to Watch ‘Breaking Bad’ Premiere Live Online

770,000 Users Demand YouTube-to-MP3 Conversion

Top 6 Comments on Mashable This Week

Watch the Soyuz Lift Off for the International Space Station [VIDEO]

Cutest Thing You’ll See All Day: Man Proposes To Anchor Girlfriend On-Air [VIDEO]

HTC Working on ‘Unique’ New Tablet [REPORT]

NASA Releases Awesome Images of Massive Solar Flare Heading Toward Earth [VIDEO]

Mysterious Photos of a Super Slim Playstation 3 Leaked [VIDEO]

The Real iPod: Elon Musk’s Wild Idea for a ‘Jetson Tunnel’ from SF to LA

Non-Profits to Reap $10 Million From Facebook Settlement [REPORT]

RIM Loses $147,200,000 in Patent Verdict

LEGO Version of ‘Portal’ May Be Coming to a Store Near You

Solar Flare Heading Toward Earth, Could Result in Beautiful Sky Show [VIDEO]

The Chosen One: Meet the Man Who Sparked the Reddit Mystery [VIDEO]

Golden Google Doodle Honors Austrian Painter Gustav Klimt

Fast Food Loves Facebook: Restaurant Chains on Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

Amazon Game Network Launch Hints at Kindle Smartphone

Woman Goes to Extremes to Sell $35 Million Mansion

Are FBI’s Android Data-Sharing Apps Hacker-Proof?

Mobile Users Are Checking In as They Check Out of Town [INFOGRAPHIC]

Amy Poehler Gives Fantastic Makeup Advice [VIDEO]

Windows 8 Gets Unboxed

Bieber Hits 25 Million Followers, Twitter Employees Dance [VIDEO]

Are You Afraid of Mobile Phone Separation? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Weekend Leisure

How to Watch ‘Breaking Bad’ Premiere Live Online

Watch the Gruesome Trailer for The Walking Dead’s New Season

5 Fascinating Things We Learned From Reddit This Week

Kickstarter Project: Bring Ancient Artillery into Your Office [VIDEO]

The 10 Most Awesome Breaking Bad Finds on Pinterest

Watch London Cops Pull the Plug on Springsteen and McCartney [VIDEO]

‘Call Me Maybe’ Meets Star Wars: Forced Parody? [VIDEO]

Pack The Perfect Pinterest Picnic

Workout Gadgets Will Soon Be Battery-Free and Powered by You

Top 10 GIFs of the Week

Screen Time: How Much is Too Much for Your Kids?

10 Epic Trick Shot Stunts on YouTube

Who is the Superhero of the Social Web? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Half-Time at Comic-Con: Thursday and Friday’s Featured Films

7 Cosplayers to Follow on Social Media

7 Classic Harrison Ford Movie Quotes as Memes

Who Should Replace Departing ‘American Idol’ Judges?

This Robot Can Express Frighteningly Human Emotions [VIDEO]

Modern Day Heat Wave Problems [COMIC]

Helpful Resources

Reserve These 5 Web Properties for Your Kids Now

Why Analytics Matter to Small Businesses

3 Online Tools for Finding the Perfect Job Candidate

50 Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Can We Stop Bullying in the Gaming Community?

This Website Uses Social Media to Find Your Dream Job

A Flash Sales Site for Modest Fashion

How to Tell if Your Ad Is Terrible

12 Jaw-Dropping Booths From Comic-Con

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/16/weekend-recap-62/

FCC: Communications Outages Could Get Worse


Communications outages caused by Sandy could get worse before they get better, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski warned on Tuesday.

Flooding, snow and other dangerous conditions could slow efforts to restore electricity and communications networks, he told reporters. Wireless communications are especially vulnerable to sustained outages, Genachowski said.

Sandy, which ravaged the East Coast, has had a “substantial and serious” impact on the country’s communications infrastructure, he said. “The storm is not over. Our posture is to expect the unexpected.”

Because of power outages as well as physical damage, as much as 25% of cellphone sites in the storm’s path were not operating as of 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to an FCC monitoring system. Roughly a quarter of broadband, home phone or cable services also experienced widespread outages, FCC officials said. The agency’s system monitors 158 counties in 10 states.

Genachowski also said that a “very small number” of 911 call centers were down, while some centers were rerouting emergency calls to other centers.

FCC officials are in contact with telecommunications companies, which say they are working to restore service.

Image courtesy of Flickr, TalAtlas

This article originally published at National Journal

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/10/30/fcc-sandy-outages/

There’s a Samsung Galaxy Note Hiding Inside the New Oculus Rift

The next-generation Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets have a phone hidden inside. The headset’s screen is actually a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which iFixit revealed after it did a teardown of the Rift.

The Galaxy Note screen, which still retains the Samsung logo, gives the Oculus an AMOLED, 75hz screen that can display a 1920x1080p resolution.

This teardown revealed a lot more about how the new Oculus Rift, which is still only available for developers, handles positional tracking. An array of 40 infrared LED lights are positioned all over the outside of the headset. iFixit revealed those lights are only visible to cameras that can pick up infrared.

The Oculus Rift developer kits are sold only through the Oculus VR website for $350. Those who preordered this version, dubbed DK2, have ben waiting since March for their headsets.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/07/31/samsung-galaxy-note-oculus-rift/