Oh, Skype. We have you to thank for transforming thousands, of not hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people into cheapskates. I say that lovingly, for I, too, dream of a day when I can forever free myself from the confines of a monthly cell phone plan and run into the loving, warm embrace of no-monthly-cost, Skype-based chatting…
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit overdramatic. But it would be silly to think that Skype hasn’t radically transformed the way a lot of people go about their daily lives. In fact, some people do indeed subsist on this service, and this service alone, for all of their phone-based needs. And many more people use Skype to conduct business; to make podcasts; to call loved ones from afar, as is the case with Maximum PC dream date winner Magali and her French family.
In short, Skype is kind of a big deal. You know it, I know it, but… the one thing that you likely don’t know off the top of your head is all the different ways you can maximize your VoIP-chatting experience through the use of third-party Skype add-ons, software tweaks, and more! That’s what we’ll be covering in this comprehensive tips guide: Making Skype awesome.
Lo-Jack schmojack. You don't need some spendy GPS unit and to keep tabs on that new Escalade. Uplinking your wheels to the great eye in the sky without breaking the bank is easier than you think.
Standalone GPS units can cost hundreds. And that's not counting the installation and (frequently hefty) activation and monthly fees associated with whatever service you do choose. For most of us, it's overkill. The good news is that if you happen to have a GPS-equipped phone lying around, you can rig your own vehicle tracking system for virtually nothing. Here's how it's done...
Facebook was quick to deny rumors that it's working on a mobile phone. After catching wind of a TechCrunch story on late Saturday night / early Sunday morning that the social networking site is "building the software for the phone and working with a third party to actually build the hardware," a Facebook PR jumped in to kill the speculation.
Straight and to the point, the PR dude said the report "is not accurate," adding "Facebook is not building a phone." End of story, right?
Perhaps so, but TechCrunch isn't convinced, who points out that Google also denied it wasn't working on a Google Phone prior to the Nexus One launch. And technically, if Facebook is pinging a third-party developer to construct the device, then it wouldn't be lying for the social networking giant to say that it's "not building a phone", but that's splitting hairs.
There are now more than 5 billion mobile phones in use around the globe, according to a study by Swedish telecom Ericsson. To put that into perspective, the world population stands at a little under 6.7 billion, which means there are almost enough mobile phones for every living human.
"In the year 2000, about 730 million people had mobile subscriptions, less than the amount of users in China alone today," Ericsson said.
Ericsson's study counts mobile subscriptions, where "subscriptions" refer to both billed contracts with providers and the pay-as-you-go plans. With some people having more than one subscription (separate plans/phones for work and home, for example), this doesn't mean there are 5 billion people walking around with cell phones.
On a related note, Ericsson says that mobile broadband subscriptions are growing at the same breakneck pace and are expected to reach 3.4 billion by 2015, up from 360 million in 2009.
Alright, Android phone owners. This one's for you, so if you have no idea what I'm talking about and/or don't actually own an Android-based phone, you can steer clear this week. Otherwise... get ready to be rocked.
A clever little Firefox add-on called Send to Phone is an amazing resource for those of you that use Android-based phones. Here's why: One of the more frustrating things one does as a phone owner is getting information--like a Web URL, a friend's email address, or a note to thyself--from your PC to your mobile device. Short of emailing it to yourself (or, worse, texting it to yourself), you really don't have a great way to convey information that you've found on the Interwebs to your phone.
Send to Phone fixes that issue in two ways, and they're both detailed after the jump!
Microsoft TechFest is an opportunity for developers and researchers to preview some pretty oddball technology advances, but one of the more down to earth applications might just revolutionize the way international business meetings are conducted. The new "Microsoft Translating Telephone" allows users to communicate in different languages, and experience voice to text translation on the fly.
A representative from Cnet attending the conference claims they were able to comfortably carry on a normal conversation with a second party in German, and while it wasn't perfect, it looked pretty darn close. No announcements were made on when if ever this would become available to the public, but clearly it addresses a pretty important need.
If they could wrap this up into a nice tidy little application for Windows Phone 7 I dare say they would have the killer app for mobile business professionals who would suddenly find themselves able to order a beer in any language.
The Translating Telephone is tied in my books with the Air Guitar for best TechFest tech demo. Which one are you rooting for?
Caller ID spoofing will soon become a thing of the past, or at least a lot less prominent. You can thank the U.S. Congress, who last week passed the "Truth in Caller ID Act of 2010."
There isn't much to the short bill, which gets straight to the point.
"It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, in connection with any real time voice communications service, regardless of the technology or network utilized, to cause any caller ID service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information, with the intent to defraud or deceive," the bill reads.
Under the new bill, you would still be allowed to block your phone number from showing up on other people's phones, and law enforcement would be exempt from the restrictions. VoIP calls, however, would not be exempt and was actually the focus of the bill, according to the Congressional Research Service summary.
An Oregon newspaper is reporting that Verizon plans to offload its cable and phone operations in Oregon, Washington, and 11 other states so that it can put more focus into its wireless and high-speed Internet ventures.
One of the biggest customers in Verizon's fire sale is Frontier Communications Corp. Frontier will reportedly spend $5.3 billion in stock acquiring Verizon's phone and cable lines in several different markets, almost tripling its size when the deal is complete. There is some concern, however, that Frontier might be getting in over its head, but the company says otherwise.
"We don't feel like we're biting off more than we can chew," said Frontier spokesman Steven Crosby. "It's not like we're going to be getting rid of employees. We're going to be bringing employees with us, 11,000 of them."
The deal will leave Verizon investors with about two-thirds of Frontier's shares, while Frontier will inherit mostly older phone lines.
Motorola’s Droid is full of firsts: It’s the first smartphone on Verizon powered by Google’s Android OS, it’s also the first Motorola smartphone to use Android, and it’s the first phone in the United States that ships with version 2.0 of the Android OS. Unfortunately for Motorola, all of the good news about the phone is centered on the OS, while any ill tidings regard the hardware.
There’s a lot to like about the latest version of the Android OS. The ability to leave frequently used applications running in the background is a welcome change for long-time iPhone users. Whether it’s a Twitter client, instant-messaging app, or simply your email, this is the Android OS’s main competitive advantage over Apple’s product. Of course, you shouldn’t discount the value of a powerful API that allows app developers to tightly integrate their offerings with the phone. For example, Android’s default Facebook app automatically adds information from your Facebook friends’ profiles to your Contacts list—including phone number, current email address, and even their profile picture. This type of integration makes services like Google Voice even more useful than they are on their own—if you install Google Voice on an Android phone, you can choose whether to use VoIP or cellular minutes on every call, pick which phone number your caller sees, and even manage calling groups on the phone. In that regard, Android really is a revolution.
As everyone knows by now, Haiti was rocked by a devastating earthquake, and the true extent of the damage -- from lost lives to demolished structures -- is still being calculated. On the IT side, communications appears to have taken a huge hit, and that's put companies in a frenzy to fix whatever can be fixed at this point.
"The mobile network still appears to be down, though [we're] getting reports that Blackberry is working," said Ory Okolloh, a South Africa-based lawyer and co-founder of crowd sourcing site Ushahidi. "We've been struggling to get a local line or short code [numbers] that people can use. Radio stations also appear to be down."
According to Okolloh, some Haitians have been able to communicate with satellite phones, "so it's no a complete blackout." And because of the situation, Okolloh notes that he's seen "urgent requests" from Haitian government officials for satellite phones.
Ann Saxton, treasurer of Bellevue, Washington-based Trilogy, says getting communications up and running has become a top priority in light of Haiti's already weak IT infrastructure. Trilogy provides cellular services to around 1 million Haitians.