Sprint app will lock down your phone while driving

via DVICE Atom Feed by Michael Trei on 3/24/11

Sprint app will lock down your phone while driving

Distracted driving is a serious problem, so lots of people are coming up with ways to stop you from using your phone while driving. The latest is Drive First for Sprint Android phones, which senses when the car is moving and locks down most of phone’s functions. 

Luckily it doesn’t completely disable everything. Up to three apps like GPS for example will still run, and three contacts (read parents) can still reach you while you’re on the move. Other calls and texts will be automatically redirected to voice mail, along with some kind of message about how busy you are driving.
My problem with this approach is how does the phone determine that you’re not riding in the passenger seat, or sitting on a bus? Until they can find a way to figure that out, I think most people will discover that this app is little more than an exercise in frustration. 
Drive First will be available in Q3 for $2 a month. Hey, nobody said being safe would be free.

EVO 3D specs confirmed: 1080p 2D video, 720p 3D, dual cameras, 1.2GHz dual-core CPU

via Engadget by Vlad Savov on 3/21/11

CTIA snooping is in full swing today, as the HTC EVO 3D has seen its major specs divulged courtesy of a document within the exhibition halls of the show. True to our initial scoop and subsequent spec leak, we’re looking at a 3D-capable successor to the EVO 4G, this one rocking a 1.2GHz dual-core processor (Qualcomm’s MSM8660), a 4.3-inch qHD ( 960 x 540) display, dual 5 megapixel cameras around back, and the sweet, sweet promise of 1080p video playback. That’s constrained to 720p for viewing 3D content, but there’s no denying this new Sprint smartphone’s shaping up to be yet another multimedia powerhouse. Specs of the EVO View tablet have also been snapped, marking it as indeed a Sprint rebadge of HTC’s 1.5GHz, 7-inch Flyer slate. Look for both to become official at Sprint’s presser later this week.

5 reasons you should consider a 3G iPad 2

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5 reasons you should consider a 3G iPad 2

via Resources | ZDNet by Matthew Miller on 3/21/11

Back before the iPad 2 was released to consumers Robert Scoble recorded a CinchCast message that said no one should buy a 3G iPad because you can just use the WiFi hotspot capability on your smartphone. Brian Chen, from Wired, also recently posted an article on why you can skip 3G on the iPad 2. This idea sounds reasonable and I admit to being a part of that camp for a couple of years, but after using my Samsung Galaxy Tab with integrated 3G I realized that integrated 3G is actually the way to go for power users and I have five reasons you should consider a 3G iPad.

There are 18 variations of the Apple iPad; black or white, 16GB/32GB/64GB, Verizon 3G, and AT&T 3G. Thus, it isn’t easy to make a choice, unless you end up like me and have no choices left. It has now been over a week and I love using my iPad 2 with integrated 3G service and am happy that is what I was led to purchase. I have been traveling a lot to Alaska for work and get 3G data even up in Ketchikan where I was able to watch March Madness live.

Here are five reasons why you should consider a 3G iPad:

Battery life: Using the mobile hotspot on your phone is convenient, but 3G and 4G kill the battery on phones faster than just about anything while the iPad models can go 10 hours. If you actually ever want to use your phone to make and receive calls or text messages, you won’t have much luck if you kill it through tethering. To support the devices you carry for WiFi hotspot functionality you will also have to carry a means to charge up your phone and maybe your iPad if you use them paired together extensively.

Integrated saves time: Today’s smartphone WiFi hotspot utilities are much better than the ones I started out using a couple years ago, but it still takes several steps to launch the hotspot and get connected with your iPad while integrated 3G is just always there and good to go. Also, it can cost you money or be a pain to find other WiFi hotspots at hotels, airports, and such while integrated 3G is always there with you and ready to go.

iPad has large antenna system: The iPad 2 has a larger antenna than your smartphone and it is possible that you may see a stronger signal to let you connect in more places. I have only seen 4 or 5 bars on my iPad 2 and the experience has been terrific.

iPad 3G has a GPS receiver: Unfortunately, Apple does not include a GPS receiver in the WiFi only models. GPS is slick with Google Maps, Navigon, and a number of other 3rd party clients that let you roll down the road with a large screen GPS navigation display.

Integrated 3G could be cheaper: WiFi hotspot services on your smartphone can range from $15 for 5GB (T-Mobile), $20 for 2GB (ATT and Verizon), up to $29.99 unlimited from Sprint. 2GB of data on AT&T is $25 for the iPad while Verizon has a 1GB option for $20, 3GB for $35, 5GB for $50 or 10GB for $80. The monthly data cost differences between the integrated or WiFi hotspot options are fairly close so monthly price should not be much of a factor in your decision.

I can understand if you have a group of people or a family with multiple iPads and you want to connect all of them at once with one smartphone then you can use that phone as a sacrificial phone and WiFi only iPads may be the way to go. However, after tasting integrated 3G on my Galaxy Tab and now on my iPad 2, I cannot go back to a two device tablet connectivity solution.

Can you think of any reasons to buy or not to buy a 3G iPad?

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Details on AT&T’s 3G MicroCell: everything but the date and price

via Engadget by Chris Ziegler on 1/25/09

T-Mobile has HotSpot @Home, Sprint has AIRAVE, and Verizon has its Wireless Network Extender, leaving just AT&T among the States’ big four carriers without a launched WiFi or femtocell solution for extending signals into the home — but it looks like that’s finally getting close to changing. We know that they’ve been in the process of trialing some units recently, and tipsters have observed that there’s now a pretty slick site launched on AT&T’s domain for its 3G MicroCell, an indication that they might be looking to go retail eventually. There’s quite a bit of detail here; from the picture, we can make out that the unit comes from Cisco (versus Samsung for Sprint and Verizon), and like its competitors, the MicroCell will require a broadband connection to operate. It’ll cover up to 5,000 square feet, allow up to four simultaneous voice or data connections (locked down so that your neighbors can’t pilfer the signal), and most interestingly, will only work with 3G phones. We’ve heard that femtocells are more difficult to manage in a 2G GSM environment than in CDMA and WCDMA — hence the 3G requirement — but the cells offered by Sprint and Samsung only offer 2G coverage, so AT&T’s arguably got an advantage here. We still don’t know exactly when this is coming or for how much dough, but the site makes mention of a “3G MicroCell service plan,” so we’d count on a fee for the pleasure of extending AT&T’s network on their behalf. Follow the break for AT&T’s full rundown of the device.

Sprint to Get HTC Touch Pro in October for $300

via Gizmodo by John Mahoney on 9/10/08

Sprint already confirmed some HTC goodness recently with the Touch Diamond, which drops in September, and today added the Touch Pro to their official lineup, available on October 19th for $300 with contract, deliciously un-gimped compared to the phone expected to hit Verizon.

Sprint just officially announced that the HTC Touch Diamond and HTC Touch Pro will be joining Sprint’s product portfolio in time for the holiday season. HTC is excited to continue the long tradition of working together with Sprint to bring cutting edge products like the Touch Diamond and Touch Pro to market.

Stylishly sleek, these devices set a new benchmark for mobile sophistication by introducing TouchFLO™ 3D, an unparalleled touch experience that puts live television, weather, email, photos, contacts, music and more at your fingertips.

The HTC Touch Diamond and The HTC Touch Pro leverage the broad functionality of Windows Mobile 6.1 and use a new customized Web browser that enables easy viewing and effortless navigation of Web sites in the way they were designed. As part of this browsing experience, users can zoom and pan Web sites with one-hand and automatically view mobile-optimized content that has been specially created to fit the display. Using gravity-sensor technology, turning the device sideways automatically rotates the Web page view from a portrait to landscape view.

With 2.8 inch high-resolution VGA displays, the HTC Touch Diamond and the HTC Touch Pro deliver a full package of features and functionality, including the above-mentioned Opera-powered browser with Wi-Fi capability; a customized, HTC-developed YouTube application for watching user-generated video content; and quick access to Sprint TVSM with an extensive selection of live and on demand video. It boasts a 3.2 MP camera/camcorder with auto focus and access to Sprint Picture MailSM to easily share images. The HTC Touch Pro’s built-in camera also features a flash.

The HTC Touch Pro brings a similarly sophisticated style and feature set to that found on the HTC Touch Diamond and also adds a variety of business-focused enhancements that make getting work done on the go quick and easy – including a five-row, slide-out QWERTY keyboard for easy data entry, expandable storage capabilities with a microSD card slot (1 GB card included) and a business card scanner application.

The HTC Touch Diamond will be available in September and will cost $249.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate. The HTC Touch Pro will be available in all Sprint retail channels beginning Oct. 19 for $299.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate.

According to the vice president of HTC America, Jason Mackenzie, “Combining Sprint’s mobile broadband connectivity with HTC’s deep desire to blend innovative design with intuitive simplicity sets the HTC Touch Diamond and the HTC Touch Pro apart from other touch-screen phones. HTC Touch Diamond gives users one-touch access to every aspect of their life and transcends texting and dialing to provide a rich mobile Internet experience unlike anything available on the market today. The HTC Touch Pro combines business with pleasure by offering one-handed operation of simple tasks and a full keyboard input for serious work.”

MobiTV Tries to Shutter Howard Forums Over Posted URL

via Gizmodo by matt buchanan on 3/7/08

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MobiTV is the mobile TV provider for Sprint, which costs $20 a month. They’d keep content they charged you for protected, so freeloaders couldn’t swoop in and pick up the same streams, right? Wrong. By punching in qtv.mobitv.com/sprintTVlive.mcd, anyone with the right phone can access the streams. That info was posted on Howard Forums, and now MobiTV is claiming that posting that information violates their intellectual property rights. So they’re trying to shutdown Howard Forums entirely. Clarification: Sprint tells us that they had “nothing to do with this situation.”

Howard Chui, the site’s founder has always complied with requests to pull down bootlegged software, so he’s not a willy-nilly copyright violator. It’s kind of like the HD DVD key debacle last year, except the stench of bullshit is even stronger, since we’re just talking about a frickin’ URL that MobiTV and Sprint didn’t take even the most basic cautions to protect. We hope Howard prevails over both their ridiculous takedown request.

[Yahoo!]

Tired of complaining to Sprint? They’re tired of you, too

Most people have glaring complaints about their wireless carrier. A couple bad experiences and the venom sprays pretty easily when asked, “what carrier are you with?” Well, if you have too many issues with Sprint, and call to get them resolved, Sprint might actually drop you as a subscriber. The theory is that, by dropping over 220,000 of their highest-maintenance clients, Sprint would be saving resources. Apparently, they’re ignoring the fact that 220,000 bad-words-of-mouth can be a pretty powerful thing, especially when, as their “high-maintenance” customers, they’re willing to speak their mind when they’re upset. Good luck with that, Sprint.

[Via Tech Digest]

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Google Wireless – does it have a ring?

Google LogoRumor is spreading today that perhaps we got it wrong about the Google Phone, perhaps Google was thinking bigger (like Google is known to do). Perhaps they were thinking of being a carrier.

This is inline with my interpretation of Google honcho’s remarks about cell phones being free. I believe he meant the service should be free, advertising can support the business model (or so I theorize). Phones are already “free” from wireless providers. They may not be the hippest, but they are free with a commitment, so Google saying “phones should be free” doesn’t move the bar any.

A free wireless network does. How would Verizon and AT&T react to something like that? They’d be scrambling to devise a new business model.

Boy Genius Reports says According to Richard Whitt, Washington telecommunications and media counsel at Google, there’s a chance that they will make a play for licensee rights to the upcoming 700 MHz band that the FCC is going to auction off. “We have not ruled in or out participating in the auction as a licensee,” says Whitt. “Whether or not we do get involved [in the auction], we see some value in creating these kinds of platforms.”

Take it with a grain or two of salt, but imagine the possibilities. There are lots of folks I know who would love to stop paying big bucks for service.

Read [BoyGenius] via [Computerworld]

Mobile phones that track your buddies

For two hours Tuesday, New York’s always-noisy Times Square could become one of the easiest spots in the world to find a friend.

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Boost Mobile, a so-called mobile virtual-network operator owned by Sprint Nextel, will offer a two-hour demonstration of buddy-tracking technology created by a start-up called Loopt. The start-up, founded by two Stanford University graduates while they were still students, is the latest to offer a mobile-tracking system that enables people to do things like get a bead on friends’ whereabouts.

It certainly won’t be the last. For nearly a decade, technology visionaries have talked of a day when people would be able to use their cell phones to get directions, track their friends, keep tabs on their kids or simply find the nearest coffee shop. Now those services are finally starting to take trickle into the marketplace.

“The most common text message that people send is, ‘Where are you?'” said Mark Jacobstein, executive vice president of corporate development for Loopt, which is partnering with mobile operators to offer a mix of social networking and so-called location-based services. “So the ability to automate that becomes a really valuable service.”

Of course, other companies have similar offerings. Dodgeball, bought by Google last year, connects thousands of customers in 22 major U.S. cities with a service that enables users to type in a location and broadcast it to their friends.

Mobile virtual-network operators Helio and Boost have developed services to automatically track and alert people about their friends’ location. Other services, such as Groundspeak’s Geocaching, let cell phone users participate in a mobile scavenger hunt. And Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and Disney Mobile have offerings that help parents track their children’s cell phones.

These companies could be on to something. If analyst predictions are correct, more than half of the cell phone users in the United States will be using location-based services by 2010. That’s a staggering figure, considering that, as of today, less than 2 percent of the 219 million U.S. cell phone subscribers have even tried using one of these offerings, according to IDC.

That’s expected to translate into big dollars for the cell phone industry. In 2006, location-based services generated $150 million in revenue. By 2010, it’s expected to generate $3.1 billion, IDC said.

“We’re still very much in the early stages of adoption,” said Scott Ellison, vice president of wireless and mobile communications at IDC. “For the past five years, our research has indicated that end users have understood how they want to use these services, but the industry as a whole has been reluctant to offer it as a commercial service.”

Putting privacy issues to rest
While mobile operators see potential in offering location-based services, they’ve been concerned about privacy issues and the accuracy of the technology. But as the technology improves, and privacy concerns are dealt with, new services are popping up left and right.

Loopt, founded in 2005, offers a mobile tracking service that enables cell phone subscribers to share their real-time location status, messages, photos and other on-the-go information with their friends from a mobile phone. Using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, the application automatically updates the location of a user’s “buddies” and displays the information directly on a map on the phone. Alerts can also be sent to notify subscribers when a friend is near.

During a demonstration of the prepaid offering Tuesday morning, people will be able to win prizes like Knicks tickets and consumer electronics by using the Boost handsets to locate Boost representatives throughout the demonstration region.

The service has already been available on a limited basis for the past six weeks. Already, 40,000 subscribers have signed up, with about 5,000 new subscribers being added every week, said Sam Altman, the 21-year-old CEO of Loopt. Boost plans to pump up those numbers with a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign starting Monday.

The service is free to any Boost subscriber until the end of 2006. Next year, subscribers will be able to try the service for 30 days for free; after that, it will cost $2.99 a month, including a mobile-blogging tool.

The launch of the Boost Loopt service comes a week after Helio, an MVNO (mobile virtual network operators piggyback on or contract with bigger networks) backed by Korean operator SK Telecom and EarthLink, kicked off its own location-based buddy service. Like Boost, Helio targets young hipsters, which experts say are more likely to use location-based services for social networking.

“For the young people we’re targeting, being with their friends is the most important thing,” said Loopt’s Altman. “And they are very willing to share their location so that they don’t miss out on anything.”

Offering services based on a subscriber’s location is not a new concept. But up until recently, most of the services offered have required users to type in an address or ZIP code to either broadcast their location, find local businesses or get directions.

“The fact that many of these services haven’t been automated has inhibited adoption,” said IDG’s Ellison. “If you’re driving through a neighborhood and you want to find the closest movie theatre, you might not know the ZIP code.”

Now, companies like Loopt are working directly with mobile operators, which under mandate from the Federal Communications Commission, must embed technology in phones to track their location in case of an emergency. Compliance with these requirements has taken a long time to implement. And for the most part, the technology used by most operators is rudimentary at best.

Carriers implementing E911 are only required to provide location information within about 100 meters,” said Iain Gillott, founder of iGillottResearch. “That’s a big area, when you think of a densely populated urban area. The joke with E911 services has been that if you’re in a downtown area and you call for help from a cell phone, you’d better light a fire in the middle of the street to let the emergency crew know exactly where you are.”

But the technology is improving. And many services, like Boost Loopt and Helio, now use GPS technology to more accurately calculate a cell phone user’s coordinates to within a few yards, using satellite signals.

Still, mobile operators are treading lightly into this tracking tech. Verizon offers its VZ Navigator service that provides directions and mapping, but it has not yet launched a full-blown buddy-tracking service.

Instead, it offers a very targeted cell phone-tracking service called “Chaperone” that allows parents to keep tabs on their kids. To help ensure that the service isn’t abused, Verizon has implemented strict parameters: It’s offered only in conjunction with the LG Migo phone designed for 7- to 10-year-olds. And the service can be added only to an existing family calling plan.

“We are really interested in the whole social-networking experience and the extensions that mobility offers those applications,” Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said. “But we are concerned about privacy and security, especially when designing a service that deals with children.”

Loopt executives claim that they have developed safeguards to ensure that mobile-phone users are tracked only by people they know and only when they want to be found. For example, the first time a subscriber tries to track a phone, a phone number must be used, and a text message is sent to the owner of that phone, who must reply in order to enable tracking. Loopt also offers individual-by-individual privacy settings so that users can “hide” from specific individuals and literally drop off of their map.

Of course, there are ways around security safeguards. And it’s these details that worry operators such as Verizon Wireless.

“We have a lot of concerns about making sure a tracking service is done right,” Nelson said. “The last thing we want to do is let a genie out of a bottle and find that the service is misused.”

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