Smartphone app: Why boycott when you can buycott?

Posted on May 21, 2013 | Android, Apple, Apps, cell phone, smartphone, Tech tips

In our consumer culture often the most powerful vote we cast is with our dollar.  Each purchase we make is an endorsement of the philosophies and practices of the company responsible for making/providing the item or service.  However, this process of consumer endorsement is not nearly as simple as it sounds.  The complex (sometimes even deliberately so), conglomerate structures are a huge barrier in responsible patronage.

Enter, Buycott: the smartphone app that is cutting through the confusion in the name of consumer empowerment. The app’s most basic function reads bar codes and translates the webs of endless subsidiaries into an easy to read “family tree” for any product.  Thus, for instance, if you scan a scan a box of Splenda you’ll know that its parent, McNeil Nutritionals, is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

Demystifying the consumer experience has never been so easy.  But it doesn’t stop there.

The app is also organized into campaigns (you are free to join an existing one or start your own) around values like safe working conditions, LGBT rights or “Say No To GMO.”  If you join a campaign Buycott also executes a cross-check on any scanned items against the brands included in your campaign so it can red flag any conflicting product.

Buycott is actually the opposite of ‘boycott.’ So, by endorsing brands that support gay marriage (Absolut and Starbucks for example) you are buycotting; while choosing to not purchase Monsanto or genetically modified food is boycotting.  Whether by boycotting or Buycotting, the aim of the app is to give consumers the information to make the informed choices that are right for them.

“I don’t want to push any single point of view with the app,” the app’s inventor Ivan Pardo told Forbes. “For me, it was critical to allow users to create campaigns because I don’t think it is Buycott’s role to tell people what to buy. We simply want to provide a platform that empowers consumers to make well-informed purchasing decisions.”

Buycott is available for iPhones and the Android version is coming soon.

Samsung announces the Galaxy S IV smartphone

So, what do you think about the Galaxy SIV smartphone?

Galaxy S IV smartphone

Are you tempted to sell your old phone and upgrade when it comes out in April?

Hopefully we can help you decide. Here’s the ExchangeMyPhone summary of Samsung’s latest unveiling:

As the fourth update of the electronic giant’s flagship smartphone there’s no doubt that Samsung continues to raise the bar for competitors. By super-sizing the screen and packing in even more specialized software the Galaxy S IV is clearly establishing itself as a rival to the iPhone5.

The S IV draws on the design of the S III but the screen is larger (5 inches), the weight is lighter, the resolution greater, the battery capacity higher, the processor faster and the rear-facing camera enhanced with more megapixels.

In the software department, the Galaxy S IV runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, the most up-to-date version of Android. Two features we particularly like are the multi-view mode (splitting the screen so you can interact with two apps at the same time) and the Smart Pause. The latter is particularly innovative as it halts a video you’re watching when your eyes dart away, then resumes when you start paying attention again.

S IV smartphone features

We’d love to hear your thoughts – do you think? Are you excited to buy the S IV?

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Are smartphones emasculating?

Posted on March 06, 2013 | Android, innovation, mobile, smartphone

At the recent TED conference in Long Beach, Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, proposed an unexpected argument.

Wearing a pair of Google Glasses, he told the conference attendes that his latest invention would help fight the antisocial and “emasculating” habit of compulsive smartphone checking.

He argued that, on a smartphone, everyone is isolating themselves by constantly looking down to check in on email or social media. In his words, “you’re standing there just rubbing this featureless piece of glass.”

In contrast, Google Glass allows people to keep their head up as digital information is overlaid onto their world, no matter where their gaze is pointed. The innovation moves towards fulfilling one of Brin’s long-held dreams to give users highly relevant information without actually having to run searches.

The technology is exciting to imagine but both his smartphone attack and the potential impact of Google Glass have ignited debate across the internet.

At Information Week, Thomas Claburn, focuses on the sexist undertones of Brin’s remarks (is he implying that isolation is unacceptable for men but fine for women?) and gives male readers a variety of ways to reclaim their smartphone. These range from armoring it in a suitably rugged case to developing new ways of interacting with our touchscreens so users can slam and hammer their touchscreens (rather than the ‘feminine’ touch or tap).

Over at Wired, Ryan Tate explores the ways that Google Glass might affect the way we interact. He agrees that there are all sorts of social problems around smartphones, but ponders if those same problems may be evident, if not exacerbated, when people are constantly looking at the little displays attached their face. In his words, “Surely losing your friend’s eye contact halfway through a sentence would be emasulating and socially isolating in its own way.”

What do you think about Brin’s argument? Do you see your smartphone as emasculating? Are you excited or appresenive about the possibility of Google Glass?

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Uchek turns your smartphone into a mobile urine lab

Posted on February 27, 2013 | Android, Apple, innovation, iPhone, phone, smartphone, Tech tips

TED fellow Myshkin Ingawale wants to harness technology to help people to better understand their own bodies. Drawing on the powerful cameras and processing power of smartphone technology, he has created an Uchek – a urinalysis app for the masses.

Unveiled at the TED conference today, the seemingly simple app is easy for anyone to use: a chemical strip is dipped in urine, a picture is taken of the strip with a smartphone and Uchek analyzes the strip to produce an accurate and easy-to-understand result.

With the color comparisons as a guide, the app creates an almost instant breakdown of the levels of glucose, bilirubin, proteins, specific gravity, ketones, leukocytes, nitrites, urobilinogen and hematuria present in the urine. This information is particularly helpful for those managing diabetes, or kidney, bladder and liver problems.

The app delivers the information in language that everyone can understand (positive or negative results or descriptors like “trace” or “large”). If you don’t know that the presence of leukocytes might indicate a urinary tract infection, you simply tap on the leukocytes tab for more information. “The idea is to get people closer to their own information,” Ingawale, 29, explained.

Ingawale is optimistic it will be made available to iOS users soon and an Android version is in the works.

According to the GSMA, the organisation which represents the mobile industry, mobile health service could help save one million lives in Africa over the next five years. According to Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA, “Mobile health has immense potential to improve people’s lives since it increases patient access to quality healthcare whilst reducing costs”. Much like other health-related smartphone apps, Ucheck is not meant to diagnose disease. Rather it is meant to make you and your doctor better aware of your health issues.

We’re excited to see what other smartphone technology emerges from this year’s TED conference!

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Top Valentine’s Day smartphone apps

Posted on February 13, 2013 | Android, Apps, cell phone, iPhone, mobile, smartphone, Tech tips

Just in time for Valentine’s Day we have found you the 4 best smartphone apps to help you with everything from finding love to sending the perfect gift…

Finding Love

If you have an iPhone, Let’s Date is one of the most popular dating apps to help smartphone users find love. It calls itself, “the Instagram of dating” and lets you to create a “dater card” through your Facebook profile. You can browse other people’s dating cards and, when you see one you like, you simply hit “Let’s Date.” If the other person likes you too, you can chat through the app and set up a Valentine’s date.

Lets Date smartphone app

Creating the perfect date

If you’re bored of nights at the cinema, or have scored a date with someone you particularly want to impress, Goby will help you plan the perfect night out. The app helps you find interesting local activities and events based on your location.

Goby app

Giving a gift they’ll love

Valentine’s day has a bad habit of sneaking up on us. This year treating your significant other (or your best mate) to the perfect gift can be as easy as scrolling through an app on your phone. The Sesame app lets you pick from a variety of themed experiences (from a home spa day to a snow day) and they will then send your gift to the lucky recipient.

Sesame smartphone app

Telling them how you feel

If you want to celebrate the people you love, and make their day, you can send personalized Valentines straight from your cell phone with CleverBug. After you download the app, and connect via your Facebook account, Cleverbug will pull up all of your friends so you can choose who to send cards to. It then pulls together Facebook photos of you and whichever friend you’ve selected, and lets you customize the design of the card however you wish. The best piece? Your first card is free so you just pay for postage and send!

Cleverebug cell phone app

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iPad for business – Apple’s 128GB memory fix

Posted on January 30, 2013 | Android, Apple, iPad, tablet, Tech tips

Apple has launched a 128GB iPad.

128GB iPad

Cupertino’s latest unveiling has twice the memory of existing models, offering users more space to store movies, videos and books amid mounting competition in the tablet market.

“With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native apps, enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

In all other respects the device is practically identical to the current, fourth-generation iPad (so far it has been available with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of memory).

The 128GB iPad will be available starting Feb. 5, priced at $799 for a Wi-Fi version and $929 for a device that also offers a cellular connection.

Timing is key – the launch follows Microsoft’s announcing the pricing and availability of Surface Pro tablet ($899 for the 64GB model and $999 for the 128GB model) and the iPad will begin shipping February 5th, four days before Surface Pro goes on sale.

128GB iPad and Surface Pro tablet

How do you like the new iPad, considering the hefty price tag? Would you, or your business, buy one? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Smartphone holiday gift guide

Posted on December 12, 2012 | Android, cell phone, iPhone, Mac, mobile, money saving, phone, smartphone

Are there any gadget junkies you know who would love a new smartphone under the tree? Whether you’re on a tight budget or fancy splurging on something extra special, check out our list for the best mobiles you can buy:

Budget-friendly

HTC One X

The HTC One X for AT&T combines excellent performance, a fantastic camera and one of the best displays on the market. It is packaged in a stunning handset and is set to get even better with an upgrade to Android 4.

Price: $0.01 (AT&T) or $20 (Sprint) at Amazon Wireless.

HTC One X

Motorola Droid RAZR M

The Droid RAZR M has a speedy dual-core processor, dependable battery life and a fantastic camera. The HD display is a bit sub-premium and there are better video cameras but, for the price, it is an incredibly well-rounded phone.

Price: $0.01 (Verizon) at Amazon Wireless.

Motorola Droid RAZR M

Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G

The Galaxy S Blaze 4G comes 3rd in the budget contenders, but it is excellent value for T-Mobile customers. The phone offers robust performance, long battery life, excellent call quality and a respectable camera.

Price: $20 (T-Mobile) at Wirefly.

Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G

Mid-range

Galaxy S III

The Galaxy S III is an excellent smartphone and has the advantage of being available from all the major national carriers. The phone boasts a spacious display, an excellent camera, fantastic performance and solid battery life. Better yet, like the One X, the Galaxy S III is set to receive an upgrade to Jelly Bean in the near future.

Price: $40 (Sprint), $100 (AT&T) or $60 (Verizon) at Amazon Wireless; $200 (T-Mobile) from Wirefly.

Galaxy S III

Motorola Droid RAZR HD

One of the most anticipated smartphones to debut this season, the Droid RAZR HD for Verizon Wireless is a huge improvement on the original Droid RAZR. It boasts incredible performance, a higher-resolution display and excellent battery life.

Price: $150 at Amazon Wireless.

Motorola Droid RAZR HD

Nokia Lumia 920

The Lumia 920 deserves special consideration for its camera which boasts a floating lens, a sensor that brings unparalleled image stabilization and great low-light performance.

Price: $70 at Amazon Wireless.

Nokia Lumia 920

Splurge-worthy

iPhone 5

Available for AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and a number of regional carriers, Apple’s latest offering ranks among the most sought-after smartphones of the year. Exceptional performance, a top-notch display, good battery life and an excellent camera are all wrapped up in beautiful hardware. If you decide to plump for the 32GB or 64GB model, the lucky recipient will be able to fill it with all their favorite movies, music and photos.

Price: $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB) or $399 (64GB) from Apple.

iPhone 5

Samsung Galaxy Note II

The Note II is among the leaders in terms of sheer performance. It also has a spacious HD display, an amazing camera and the S Pen (which lets you quickly jot down notes and annotate photos).

Price: $230 (Sprint), $250 (AT&T) at Amazon Wireless; $280 (Verizon), $300 (T-Mobile) at Wirefly.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Nexus 4

For Android fans, it is hard to bet the Nexus 4 whose display and camera are miles ahead of the previous Galaxy Nexus.

Price: $299 (8GB) or $349 (16GB) from Google.

Nexus 4

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Gift guide for the smartphone lover on your list

Posted on December 05, 2012 | Android, cell phone, iPad, iPhone, Mac, mobile, smartphone, tablet, Tech tips

In time for the holiday season we have put together our top 5 gifts for the smartphone fanatic in your life. If they’re a true tech lover, we’re guessing that they already own the latest Apple, Android  or Windows products, so we have scoured the web for the best gadgets to complement their phones and tablets. Whoever they are, we hope we have something they’ll like:

The vintage collector

This amazing creation from the folks at Restoration Hardware is not cheap but we think it is pretty amazing for any iPad or iPhone owner who spends their Sundays trolling flea markets. You just set the device in the solid walnut dock and the metal gramophone horn will boost its volume by three to four times. All without any need for electricity.

The Eco-Maven

This beautiful FM radio has a MP3 output so you can easily hook it up to your iPod or iPhone. The internals are housed in a minimalist card structure that can be easily recycled when the product reaches the end of its life.

The Movie Buff

The perfect gift for anyone who travels often and loves the idea of on-the-go entertainment (parents with young kids will love you forever). This pocket projector attaches to your iPhone 4 or 4S device to display crisp video anywhere, onto any surface.

The safe-keeper

In everyone’s family there always seems to be someone who walks around with a janitor-like key chain. Why not give them a gift that gets rid of that gangling weight in their pockets? Enter the Lockitron. This amazing new software lets users electronically unlock doors anywhere from their home to their car and their gym locker, using any type of phone from anywhere in the world.

The traveler

Anyone who travels often knows what a pain it can be to pack all the cables needed for their various gadgets. The Juice Buddy is the world’s smallest charger and it eliminates the need to cart around any iPhone cables. The little box just attaches to your key chain and provides an iPhone charger wherever and whenever you need it most. Simply plug it directly into the wall and then dock your iPhone in the top.

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How To Buy a Cell Phone

Posted on November 28, 2012 | Android, cell phone, cell phone trade-in, mobile, phone, smartphone

With the launch of the Apple iPhone 5, a host of excellent Android handsets, and the rise of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 OS, choosing the right smartphone has never been more difficult, or more exciting.

how to buy a cell phone

Whether you’re treating yourself to an upgrade or planning to give a new phone to someone on your holiday gift list, it helps to be armed with the knowledge necessary to make smart shopping decisions. To make it all a little less daunting, we have put together this ‘how to buy a cell phone’ guide with all you need to know (from choosing the right mobile platform to picking the perfect model):

Features

Whenever possible, do some easy hands-on-tests in the store to see if the phone works for you:

1) Call quality: These days smartphones are used less and less for making calls, with features such as e-mail and games taking precedence, but we still recommend that you make a test call at the retail location, listen for any static, tinny voices or interference.

2) Design: A phone is such a personal product and you might find yourself strongly drawn to one style or another. If you are trying to decide between a few options, ask yourself some of these questions: Is it comfortable against your ear? Do you prefer a large screen for watching videos and viewing photos or something more pocketable? Do you want something more subtle or more flashy?

3) Operating system: If you aren’t fiercely loyal fan to one platform, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone each have a lot to offer. As very brief rundown, iOS’ strengths are its well-integrated ecosystem and intuitive interface, but you’re locked in to iTunes for content. Android is much more customizable, but each carrier has its own twist, which can make it less easy to just pick up and use. Finally, Windows Phone 8 is building in features that make for good high-end phones, and its fresh, simple interface is appealing.

4) Camera: For many people, their phone has become their to-go camera. If this is you, then you’ll want to pay attention to the phone’s camera specs. Try to take a few pictures in the store to get a clear idea of the camera’s photo quality. The best camera phones out today are probably the Nokia 808 PureView, Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC Droid DNA.

5) Battery life: With swelling screen sizes and processors, energy consumption on cell phones has never been higher. All phone batteries will run out eventually but the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, HTC Evo 4G LTE and Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE have the best battery life. For a complete guide to extending your phone’s battery life, check out our “Battery Life Savers” post.

Which carrier is best?

Consider whether or not you want a contract, whether you want a small data plan or a large one and which carrier covers your area best. National and regional carriers sign you on for a two-year contract and offer phones at a subsidy (hence cheaper). They often have the widest coverage, the lowest up-front costs and offer premium phones. However, every national carrier also has a prepaid option. Some, like, T-Mobile and AT&T, offer a different, usually cheaper, range of phones and Verizon lets you buy nearly any phone at retail value and then pay month-to-month. Depending on how you use the services, prepaid service could work out to be cheaper over time. You also won’t have to worry about breaking your contract and paying a fee.

Finally, don’t forget to sell your old phone to subsidize your upgrade! Depending on the age and condition of your old phone you may be able to completely, or at least partially, cover the cost of your upgrade.

If you have any questions on how to buy a cell phone, feel free to ask away in the comments section below.

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5 ways to use your smartphone to get ready for Black Friday

It’s time to prep for Black Friday. I’m not sure about you, but it takes a lot to get me off the sofa and into the stores mere hours after eating far too much pie and turkey. Still Christmas is just around the corner and picking up some gifts for everyone on my list, without breaking my bank balance, seems like a very good idea indeed.

So, at ExchangeMyPhone, we have put together some tips for getting the most of out your Black Friday experience:

1) Sell Your Old Phones

If you have recently upgraded, or are looking to buy a new phone in the Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, don’t forget about your old phone! You can sell your old and/or broken smartphones at ExchangeMyPhone and pad your pockets in time for some serious holiday shopping.

2) Downland Zoomingo

This innovative shopping app lets you track all the holiday sales right from your smartphone or tablet. The app lists all the Black Friday sales from all the major retailers and lets you create a ‘Watch List’ of items you love so they can notify you as soon as they go on sale.

Zoomingo

3) Download Red Laser

If you are into comparison shopping, this app is perfect. You simply use your phone to scan the barcode and you can find out what the item is going for at other local stores or even online. As a bonus, you can discover similar items you didn’t even know you wanted.

Red Laser app

4) Download Mint.com Personal Finance

Does your generosity sometimes get the better of you? If you are one of those people who splurges on incredible gifts for everyone and then dreads looking at your bank balance once the new year rolls around, Mint’s free app is perfect for you. Before you set off on your Black Friday shopping spree just add your bank accounts, credit cards, loans etc so you can manage your budget and track your spending.

Mint.com Personal Finance app

5) Download FatWallet

Sadly, this app is only available on the iPhone but it is a brilliant tool for planning the ultimate shopping trip. You can use this clean, simple and speedy app to shop by specific categories, items or retailers.

FatWallet app

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