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Category: Mobile

How to get Internet access while traveling

Most people today need to be connected while traveling or on the road, this is often a challenge despite that wireless networks are popping up virtually everywhere. Follow our tips to stay connected while on the move.

Free Wi-Fi

This one is a no-brainer, but the world is littered with free Wi-Fi spots, they are most often found in coffee shops, fast food restaurants, airports and train stations. Some common global coffee shops with free Wi-Fi are; Starbucks and Costa Coffee (in the UK). McDonalds and Burger King often have free Wi-Fi in their restaurants around the world.

Getting free Internet access in airports might prove to be more problematic, often the first hour is free and then you pay a fee. Beware of fake Wi-Fi-networks when in public places designed to steal information, they may often be named “Free public Wi-Fi” or similar.

Mobile broadband

Going abroad and surfing using your current data plan is not recommended, most carriers charge heavily for using data abroad, it can get really expensive. Check with your carrier to see if they offer data packages for going aborad, many of the major carriers do, such as AT&T.

Get an extra sim from a local carrier

If you are going to be in a region for a longer period, your best option may be to purchase a prepaid SIM card with a data plan from a local carrier. Just make sure that your phone is unlocked and can handle other carriers.

KeepGo, WorldSim and other similar services

There are multiple global SIM-data card providers. One of them is KeepGo, which have a number of packages depending on the region you are visiting. With KeepGo you also have the option of renting a a phone while on the road, or buying a portable WiFi router.

Another neat option is using a WorldSim data card, which is a prepaid SIM card with a data plan that can be used in most countries around the world. The SIM card can be inserted into an IPad, phone or laptop. Other similar providers are Maxroam and GoSIM.

 

Slow Ipad? Speed it up!

Is your Ipad slowing down after otherwise being fast and snappy? Try our advice to restore its former glory.

A common cause for a slow Ipad is that too many apps are running in the multitask bar. This is disputed, but many users report increase performance when keeping the apps in the multitask bar to a minimum. Even-though you may not have an app open they might still be running in the background, this is done so that the app will open faster the next time you use it.  Try opening the apps currently running by double pressing the home button, close down the apps by tapping the red X close icon. In iOS 7, instead of clicking the red X close icon simply drag the apps upward to close them.

Before trying the tips below, try to do a hard reset by turning off the Ipad and then on again by holding down the On/Off button, and then slide “Turn off”.

If your Ipad is slow it might be running out of disk-space, to check how much is left go to Settings -> General – > About.

If the available disk-space is low you can start by clearing the web-browser cache. For Safari on the Ipad go to Settings -> Safari and then tap Delete cookies and data.

For Chrome on Ipad go to the Chrome app, tap the Chrome menu -> Settings -> Security. Then tap Clear cache memory and Clear cookies.

If your Ipad continues to perform slowly try cleaning out any apps that you don’t use to save disk space.  This is good to do on a regular basis.  To uninstall an app, tap and hold over the app you want to uninstall, after a while the red X close icon will appear.

If you have a lot of photos and videos on your Ipad another way of saving disk space is to transfer some apps to your local computer and remove them from the device.

Another cause for a slow Ipad might be the network settings; it’s possible to reset them by going to Settings -> General -> Reset network settings.

If you are using a more recent Ipad, always keep up to date with the latest version of iOS and app updates. For older Ipads that are close to their end of life new iOS updates may not always be beneficial to performance, and may in some cases even cause them to become slower. In that case updates should be considered with care.

Banjo – Social discovery

Banjo is a location based social networking app released in the summer of 2011, and has since then managed to attract 4 million users. It’s available on Google Play and in the App Store, while the app initially was intended for pure mobile devices Banjo recently updated their apps to be usable on Ipad and Android-tablets.

Banjo

So what is Banjo really in practice? Banjo imports posts from most major social networks and then makes it possible to sort them by location. For example if someone not in your network posts a public Facebook post nearby it will show up in Banjo An additional feature is that it’s also possible to select other locations than just nearby, so if you want to see what’s going on in Hong Kong Banjo will do it for you.

As most social networks are built around the notion that you communicate with a network of followers or friends, Banjo extends to discovering completely new connections, which is refreshing. But it’s main selling point in our opinion is the possibility to monitor events such as the Academy Awards or different news events, and see what is being said in various social networks and locations.

However most of the connections discovered in Banjo is not really aware of that they are being discovered using Banjo, which is a stark reminder of the impossibility of flying under the radar in social networks (which of course is contradictory to the whole point with social anyway).

Banjo connects with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Google+.

Banjo friends update Banjo Places Banjo friend in common

Android Photo Editing – Snapseed

Snapseed is a photo-editing app, primarily for Android and iOS devices, but there is also a desktop version (Mac OS X and Windows).We tested the recently released Android version.

Snapseed Android

The average mobile user is not looking for a Photoshop-like experience when editing their beloved photos; instead most are trying to find apps were they quickly can edit photos of their latest night out or birthday party before posting them to Facebook or Twitter. This pose a problem, most basic photo-editing apps are cheesy, with loads of unwanted features, with only fair results. Thankfully times are changing.

Snapseed was originally developed by a company called Nik Software, primarily based in Germany. During 2012 Google bought the company and the Snapseed app, and we are already beginning to see the fruits of the acquisition, recently Snapseed for Android was released, and all versions of the app are now free.

Using Snapseed is really a breeze, it is designed to be quick to operate and easy to share photos to different social networks. There is automatic contrast and color correction, but also various filters, such as vintage, drama, grunge and black and white. Each filter can be further adjusted in different ways to create effects. The gallery on Snapseeds’ website features some remarkable results.

The sharing options in Snapseed include most standard social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google +. However since Google bought Snapseed Google+ has a more prominent shortcut than other social networks.

While the desktop version of Snapseed probably isn’t what most users are looking for, it includes the possibility to edit RAW-files.

So far Snapseed is very similar to the features in Instagram (which is in fact why Google probably bought the app in the first place) and loads of other apps available, but the ease of operating Snapseed, the fact that it’s free and the actual results outpaces much of the competition.

Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad

Google recently released Google Chrome for iOS, which means that the browser now can be used on the iPhone and iPad. The release is raising the stakes in the battle between Google, Apple and Microsoft for mobile users.

Surfing using Google Chrome for iOS

Regarding web-browsing for the iOS, Google Chrome doesn’t bring much new to the table. Chrome basically the same features as Safari for the iPad; voice-search is perhaps the most interesting feature. For the Ipad it’s a bit unnecessary but for the Iphone voice search is very convenient and worked well when we tested it.

The iOS version of Google Chrome is very similar to the desktop, the navigation is the same but it’s possible to browse between tabs by swiping across the screen. To the right there is a menu with a bunch of options and features. For example the incognito mode is available in the iOS-version, and also the ability to view web-pages as the desktop version of Chrome. Obviously Google Chrome for iOS has no support for flash-websites.

The whole idea with Google Chrome for the iOS is of course that you can sync bookmarks between different devices using Chrome, it’s also possible to continue a browsing session on your desktop, for example opening a tab previously viewed on your iPad or iPhone.

Apple have carefully plotted so that third party browsers in the iOS can’t benefit from the much faster Nitro java-script engine available in Safari, this means that Google Chrome is a bit slower than Safari. However it is barely noticeable and it actually feels snappier than for example Atomic web and other third party browsers.

A major downside with the Chrome browser is the way Google have chosen to structure the bookmarks, they are actually part of the browsing experience and not in the sidebar to the right as in the original desktop version. As a result it’s harder to find relevant bookmarks.

Google Chrome for iOS is mainly aimed at current users of the desktop version, and it really provides much better functionality than Safari. However few current desktop Safari users will probably migrate.

Ipad note taking apps: Notability

One of the many selling points with the Ipad is to take notes, in meetings or on the go. Yet the note-taking application that comes with it has a lot left to be desired (which for a $400-600 device may seem weird).

Notability an app by GingerLabs adds a lot of note functionality to the Ipad not that common in other apps. First of all the app has handwriting recognition, which means that it is entirely possible to use a for the Ipad to take notes, or use your fingers. Using a pen makes the note-taking process much easier than using the keyboard, but using just your fingers is a cumbersome and slow process. I tried it for a while but eventually gave up and bought a capacitive stylus.

Another problem with the handwriting recognition in Notability is the fact that you can’t re-size the letters after writing, other similar apps for the Ipad have this feature.

Notability also has the original Ipad software keyboard functionality as well as recording. Using the word processing functionality is very similar to QuickOffice; there are some basic functionality such as styling, outlining and a spell-checker. The recording feature is actually something that you will use a lot when in meetings, seminars or in lectures, each recording is linked to a note. For example at a seminar you will have both your own notes as well as the voice recordings, which is very neat.

Using the Ipad camera it’s possible to insert images into your notes, and other objects such as web clippings and drawings. A weird thing with Notability is that it isn’t possible to erase lines in drawings, hopefully it will be fixed, but it is a bit awkward to redo drawings when it is impossible to erase parts of them. Features that are included are the usual cut and paste options and highlighting words and paragraphs.

An interesting feature in Notability the possibility to import PDF-files and annotate them. This works very well, the PDF shows up in a notebook and it’s possible to add notes and highlights in and around the PDF. On an older Ipad (1 generation) this feature is a bit slow, however it’s still a very useful feature, saving a lot of paper and weight.

In Notability it is possible to create an unlimited number of notebooks with notes on different subjects, organizing them is done using a drag and drop interface, which is straight-forward. Notebooks and notes can also be password protected and synced with services such as Dropbox, iDisk or WebDAV.

Notability is a neat app, many of the features should have been included with the Ipad from the very beginning, however Notability has great value with lots of features on the cheap. It is definitely one of the best note-taking application for the Ipad, it is also faster and less complex than the main competitor, Evernote.

Boot to Gecko – Mozilla phone operating system

Mozilla is gearing up to conquer the mobile space with their project Boot to Gecko (B2G) for smartphones. The goal is to create an open-sourced standard compliant mobile operating system, challenging iOS and Android.

Boot to Gecko uses HTML 5 and a by Mozilla developed API, most current mobile operating systems requires more complex languages such as C# or JAVA. Using HTML 5 in a mobile operating system is an interesting concept, it means that current web apps already using the technology should have an advantage as porting apps to mobile devices will be much easier than before. If Boot to Gecko becomes a success the web will increasingly become the platform of choice for everything, including mobile devices, rendering separate mobile operating systems useless.

Another interesting point with Boot to Gecko is that operators can now provide services across a range of devices instead of having to port all services to different mobile operating systems.

Mozilla have about 20 full-time engineers working on the project with a handful of volunteers supporting it. A lot of the code is re-used from the mobile version of Firefox.

When looking at the road map it is clear that the project will probably take until fall 2012 to materialize. When the project is done it will probably be an uphill battle to get the OS delivered with new phones, phone manufacturers will be reluctant, no doubt. Right now it is possible to run Boot to Gecko on some Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy SII, meaning that a phone does not have to have Boot to Gecko factory installed in order to use it.

The road map for the project also includes some features of the Boot to Gecko operating system, such as a by Mozilla hosted app-store, a e-book reader, a e-mail client and the Firefox browser.

Of course a project like Boot to Gecko might seem like it will never take off or even scratch iOS, Android or Windows Phone penetration, but the mobile space is in the same situation as browsers years ago, with two dominant players. For browsers Microsoft ruled the world with Internet Explorer, the release of Firefox changed all that, perhaps Boot to Gecko will do the same for mobile operating systems.

Demonstration of Boot to Gecko:

Google Glasses – Is augmented reality the next big thing?

It seems that when a tech company gets too extensive cash reserves they always want to go into augmented reality creating wearable computers (Microsoft and IBM has already been there).

Google has a research project going on, the company wants to create glasses connected to Google’s services to provide an augmented reality. The glasses will be able to display chats, messages, the weather and maps in a person’s’ field of vision, according to a post the company made on Google+.

Controlling the Google Glasses is done by voice commands (similar to the IBM wearable computing efforts mentioned below). If you want to know what a day with Google Glasses is like view the video below:

Perhaps the market is ready for these type of devices, but it is doubtful that such glasses will be used for checking the weather or video-chatting. More likely usage scenarios are for providing information about anything the users sees, gaming and navigation in terrain.

Google is certainly not the first tech company to create wearable computers. Most wearable computer efforts for consumers has been failures.

One example is IBM who launched their wearable computer derived from a ThinkPad laptop in 1998. It had 233 MHz Intel processor, 64 MB RAM and was able to run Windows 98, according to the company website. The computer was controlled using voice commands.

Of course the computer never hit the market, and the commercial didn’t do it any favours either:

Clear – Simple to-do lists for the Iphone

When I first heard about Clear, I thought it was yet another to-do list app for the Iphone, doing the same thing as most others are. Clear is however different, the complexity level have been reduced significantly.

To-do lists on the Iphone and other mobile devices is apparently big business given the countless solutions available in the App Store. However most of them are very complex to work with, requiring more time to manage the to-do lists than performing the tasks.

The developers behind Clear wants to change all that by creating a simple no frills to-do list app. Clear is beautifully designed app with a user interface entirely based on gestures. Each task is represented by a box, the priority is determined by the order of tasks and the color of them (red is more important than yellow).

When first starting Clear it will take you through the different gestures needed to use it, all-though the interface based on gestures is fresh and effective, it takes some initial hardship to learn.

In Clear it’s possible to have different lists for different types of tasks, for example one list for work-related tasks and one for personal goals. The tasks are synced with Itunes, there is no cloud sync available, so it isn’t possible to view the tasks on anything else than the Iphone. Of course this might be a problem for people working with multiple devices, or on the road (Remember the Milk and even Google Calendar’s to-do list is better in this sense).

Clear does make you more productive as it focuses on just a simple to-do list without bunches of categories, prioritizations etc. Maybe it doesn’t replace all the advanced solutions, but it should work for most needs of simply structuring tasks and get them done.

Ipad Office Suites: Apple Pages

Apple Pages has been around for the Mac since 2005, it is marketed as a word processing program, but also a light layout application. In 2009 Apple released Pages to the Ipad, while there certainly are many word processors for the Ipad available, Pages should be the ultimate one given that Apple both control the software and the hardware.

Apple Pages for Ipad

When first launching Pages for the Ipad it is clear that it is one of the more beautiful word processing apps for iOS. However beautiful doesn’t cut it, it also have to be efficient to use. Pages integrate neatly with ICloud (Apples sync application), however Quickoffice Pro HD and other office apps have similar integration.

A somewhat strange sync thing is that Pages on the Ipad will not sync with Pages on the Mac, even-though they are apps from the same company in the same environment. Also Apple didn’t include any sync with services such as Google Docs or Dropbox, which other office suites have (such as Quickoffice Pro HD)

Apple Pages is easy to use, the interface design breathes Apple and should work for most people, even if you are used to Windows or Android software previously. It is possible to set margins and the overall size of the document as well as line spacing. Also Pages makes it possible to add more columns than one and create numbered lists.

Pages does have more layouting options than other word processing apps for the Ipad, for example it is possible to insert images and create tables (something that is lacking in Quickoffice Pro HD, where it is only possible to edit existing tables). Pages for Ipad also behave faster than the competition, for example when writing using the Apple Wireless keyboard with Ipad there is generally a slight input lag in Quickoffice Pro HD, but none in Pages.

A neat feature in Pages is the predefined templates for creating various publications, included are 16 templates for reports, invitations, letters and so on. However it is not possible to create custom templates in Pages for the Ipad, for example it is unlikely that a real estate broker would use a standard template from Apple, of course most businesses want their own custom templates.

Pages can handle most common files from for example Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx) and Pages (for OSx), it is also possible to view PDF-files.

Overall Pages for Ipad is the best word processing App for the Ipad, that doesn’t make it perfect. It is easy to use but has its own set of issues, such as a lack of creating custom templates even-though Apple market it as a layout application.

If you are buying Pages for word processing and some light layout you will not be disappointed, but if you are after InDesign for the Ipad you are out of luck. Pages is also more expensive than the competition. At least if you want a whole office suite, since you will have to add Numbers and Keynote to the purchasing list, which all together will cost more than Quickoffice Pro HD or Office HD.

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