Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Martian Notifier provides a good smartwatch experience

I had been thinking about purchasing a smartwatch for a while and had decided on the Apple Watch to match up with my up other Apple devices. The Pebble, Samsung, Sony and other brands didn’t appeal to me,so my shopping list was short.

Then I discovered the Martian Notifier and that’s what I’m wearing on my wrist. I’ve had this smartwatch for about a month and I’m liking the features more and more each day.

It was easy to get the Martian smartwatch paired with my iPhone using Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology. But the company does recommend a battery level of at least 50% before pairing for the first time. You’ll use a Micro USB Cable for connecting to the Martian and to a computer or a USB wall adapter.

According to Martian, a full charge can be reached in 2-3 hours from a power outlet and 3-4 hours when charging from a computer.

One tip is that the watch crown on the right side is shipped with it pulled out to “save the battery while shipping.” You’ll need to set the time and press it back in until you hear a click.

The pairing process was quick and painless; turn on Bluetooth on your phone, download the Martian Notifier app, open and insert a six-digit code generated by the Martian and you’re ready to roll. While in the Martian app, you’ll also select the notifications you want to receive and assign custom vibration patterns for alerts and phone calls. Once the two devices are paired, you should have functionality with a 30-foot range.

While you’re in the downloading mood, you might as well connect the Martian smartwatch to your computer via the USB cable and check for any firmware updates.

At first glance, the Martian smartwatch looks like a traditional analog timepiece, with a large dial, hour and minute hands, traditional crown and roman numerals for the twelve o’clock position. Short silver bars mark the remaining hourly positions.

Then you’ll notice an OLED digital display tucked away in the lower left corner, about where the six and seven o’clock positions would be. Although the display is only about half an inch in width, it packs a lot of punch for displaying notifications from your smartphone.

The OLED display shows incoming calls, text messages, emails and other notifications that you might have selected in the Martian app. It also shows battery level and other information. Another unique feature is tapping the glass to recall a notification received in the past five minutes.

A small LED light resides just above the eight o’clock position and glows red while the watch is charging and solid green green when fully charged. The LED light also flashes blue for incoming notifications and green for incoming calls.

You’ll also notice two buttons on the left side for managing notifications received on the smartwatch. The top button launches voice commands on your phone or tablet and scrolls the notification history forward. The bottom button turns the smartwatch on and off, as well as scrolls through the the Notifier menu and scrolls notification history backward.

I’m loving the battery life of the Martian Notifier. The company claims seven days of battery life and I’m getting at least five before needing a charge. This means I can charge up on the weekend and go for a week before plugging in again. The Martian is unique it that the time piece is on a separate battery from the rechargeable battery used for digital functions and is rated to run for two approximately two years.

The Apple Watch I had in my cart for a while was going to cost around $400. The Martian Notifier retails for around $130 and if you shop around, it can be picked up for around $90. You’ll have a choice of different color combinations for the watch face and bands. It is compatible with iOS and Android devices.

I didn’t like the black silicone band that shipped with the Martian smartwatch. So purchased a black metal band, which dressed the smartwatch up quite a bit and made it easier to put on and take off. Any aftermarket band with a 22 millimeter width (where the band attaches to watch) should work just fine. After removing a couple of links, I had a perfect fit. Just be mindful removing the pins in the band links with the included removal tool is kind of fussy and you might need a better pin-removal tool or a trip to your favorite jeweler swap out the band.

Getting my text messages and alerts with Martian is certainly less of a hassle. I don’t have to dig my iPhone out of my pocket as much now. Just a quick glance at the Notifier is all it takes when a notification comes in.

My smartwatch cravings have been fulfilled for a while, or at least until the two-year battery runs out.

Monday, September 21, 2015

OtterBox cases offer ultimate protection for new iPhones

The OtterBox line of protective cases for the iPhones have become legendary and the latest choices for the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are on track to continue to provide maximum protection for your devices.

The Defender, Commuter, Symmetry and Strada series now available and an Alpha Glass screen protector option is coming soon.

According to OtterBox, their cases undergo 24 tests over more than 238 hours to protect against the scratches, dings and drops of daily life. Whether a toddler has your brand new iPhone 6 or you go four-wheeling, OtterBox says you need not worry - they’re built for you and your lifestyle.

The cases even face the “purse test” to fend off scratches from keys, wallets and whatever else an iPhone may come in contact with in a woman’s purse.

The OtterBox for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are available now at the company’s website and select retailers. Cases for the iPad Pro and iPad mini 4 are also in the works.

If you’re looking for the ultimate protection for your new iPhone, the OtterBox cases should be on your list.

Fast charging devices unveiled from mPower Technologies

The next time you have a dead car battery, instead of grabbing the tangled jumper cables from your trunk, you can grab a device about the size of a TV remote from your glove compartment.

The mPower Jump, manufactured by mPower Technologies, has a 600 amp peak-current rating and packs enough power to jump-start most 12-volt batteries in autos, marine equipment, recreational vehicles, ATVs and small tractors.

The 13000mAh battery in the unit will take about four hours to charge and will have a “jump start current” of 300A, while weighing in at 1.52 pounds. The cost is around $100 and is now available.

This company, which is the consumer products subsidiary of mPhase Technologies, Inc., also is working on their mPower FastCharge device/ The unit will have fast charging backup power capability for cellphones, tablets and cameras. According to the company, the device will fast charge in six minutes through a 12V car cigarette lighter.

The 6000mAh battery, with a weight of slightly more than a half-pound, is designed for on-the-go charging of your electronics when no wall power is available.

The new FastCharge will come in multiple color options and retail pricing will be released soon.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Verizon closes deal with AOL, eyes mobile video technology

Verizon now has mail from the king of the vintage dial-up Internet service.

In a $4.4 billion deal first announced in May, Verizon Communications Inc., a modern-day tech giant, has completed the acquisition of AOL, a tech giant of the 1990s with the famous “You’ve Got Mail” slogan.

AOL’s wall street presence goes away in a puff of smoke and they are now a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon. AOL’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong will continue to steer the company in the right direction, with help from Bob Toohey, president of Verizon’s Digital Media Services, and Marni Walden, Verizon executive vice president and president of Product Innovation and New Business.

Although some might consider AOL something of a “has-been” from the dot-com era, Verizon is getting quite a few goodies, such as AOL’s websites, which includes the Huffington Post, a news content provider, and popular gadget sites TechCrunch and Engadget. This deal looks better once you throw in the numbers for AOL of around 200 million unique visitors each month and 2 million Internet subscribers.

But that’s not all Verizon has their eyes on in the AOL deal. Nowadays, AOL is big into online mobile video services and has an attractive advertising technology. Verizon will probably use their existing Digital Media Services and AOL’s mobile advertising capabilities to gain traction in the mobile video market and ensure a brighter digital future.

As Verizon moves forward with this deal under wraps, maybe the next mail from AOL will be about success for Verizon in the mobile video and advertising space.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Digital forensics courses in data analysis to combat cybercrime

As the world of cybercrime increases on an almost daily basis, the world of cybercrime education is expanding to stop the criminals.

Students attending Salve Regina, a a Catholic institution founded by the Sisters of Mercy 1947, will be able to pursue a concentration in digital forensics with a certificate of graduate studies this fall. These graduate students in the Administration of Justice and Homeland Security program will be trailblazers in the field of cyber criminology.

According to the program director, this new emphasis in cyber education will include skills in data analysis for civil and criminal cases and intelligence and counterterrorism matters. Students will expand their knowledge in analyzing data and utilizing networks, servers and analysis tools.

The courses will be offered online and in special programs designed for the workplace at Salve Regina’s Center for Adult Education in Warwick, Rhode Island.

If cybercrime continues to threaten society, maybe more education in analysis and prevention measures will help to eliminate future cases.

Read more here: Data breaches target electronic health records

Goodwill app now updated, ready for your donations

Since there is an app for just about everything, Goodwill Industries International has upgraded its free Goodwill Locator app for constant connectivity to the mission of giving.

Now users on iOS and Android mobile devices can stay up to date on donation centers, stores, and job training centers through stories and updates available in the app.

Launched two years ago, the Goodwill Locator app now has more than 5,000 stores and donation centers' locations and includes videos on how the lives of individuals have been changed through donations. A financial gift can also be made using the app.

The latest version of the Goodwill app is free via Google Play and coming soon in the Apple Store, pending approval. Or you can visit the Goodwill website for the latest update.

With the Goodwill app, you can use your mobile devices to make a difference in this world.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Apple Watch bringing cutting-edge technology to your wrist

The Apple Watch is just around the corner and it’s time to get serious about how Apple’s latest technological wonder is going to fit into our lives. Just like all the other “Apple iDevices,” a lot of us didn’t know we’ll need an Apple Watch until Apple told us so.

The one thing I can say is the Apple Watch is going to be some much more than a device to let us know the time or the date. We’re talking about an entire ecosystem of tech synergy and this device could be the world’s first truly wearable computer. But we’re skeptical at this point, or at least I am, and Apple has some convincing to do in several areas.

I’m sure security measures will be at the top of the list for those considering the Apple Watch. One question is will it work on a wrist that didn’t shell out their hard-earned cash?

The answer is the device will know if it’s on your wrist or has been taken off and it’ll need a lock code to be activated again, much like the iPhone lock screen. That should give some peace of mind if the Apple Watch is lost or stolen. Around the house, if the iPhone becomes lost and you’re wearing the Apple Watch, a pinging feature should locate the iPhone -- probably between the couch cushions -- and get you back on track.

The Apple Watch will have cutting-edge technology and innovative navigational features that only Apple could dream up. Just like the iPod, iPhone, and certainly the iPad, I’m sure it’ll have a level of simplicity that’ll make the functionality just as easy as all the other iDevices. And all of this ingenuity will be done on your wrist.

While the iPod had the Scroll wheel and the iPhone and iPad have the home button, the Apple Watch will have what Apple is calling the Digital Crown. It’ll be used for selecting menus, zooming in and out, scrolling and returning to the Home screen. Even though the Retina watch display will be a lot smaller than the iPhone, Apple has developed a new typeface to enhance legibility and the high pixel density should make things a lot easier to read

Another unique feature coming on the Apple Watch is something called Force Touch, which will distinguish between a tap and a press on the display. According to Apple, a “firm press” will bring up additional options in Messages, Music and Calendar apps, as well as the option to choose different watch faces or end a workout session.

Since we’re already use to glancing at our watches, the Apple Watch will capitalize on this gesture with “Glances,” which will give a summary of the information you’re seeking with just a simple swipe up on the watch face.

For Dick Tracy fans, yes, you’ll be able to answer a call and respond to messages, or just dismiss them with a flick of the finger. So it looks like what was envisioned around the 1940s in a comic strip as a “wrist radio” is finally catching up with us. The future has arrived and Siri, Apple personal assistant, will be close by when you raise your wrist to offer any assistance.

If you’re wondering how you’ll know all these things are going with the watch, Apple has it figured out with something called a “Taptic Engine” inside the watch to provide feedback. Whenever an alert or notification is received, you’ll get a gentle tap on the wrist and maybe a subtle audio tone. Apple says they wanted to “give technology a more human touch.”

As electronic health records continue to evolve, the Apple Watch is on board with data collection for physical activities and an included Heart Rate Sensor. The capabilities of Wi-Fi and GPS will measure your distances, such as when cycling, and an accelerometer will count your steps when walking. If the healthcare industry latches onto the Apple Watch, this could bring some traction to wearable technology, especially if privacy concerns are addressed.

You’ll certainly need a lot of juice in the Apple Watch to keep all this information going and Apple is claiming 18 hours of battery life and innovative charging at bedtime. Using a concept of the MagSafe magnetically charging connector introduced on the MacBooks starting in 2006, there is nothing to plug in; magnets will snap the Apple Watch charging cable into place on the back of the watch. According to Apple, you’ll be able to perform this ritual in the dark or without looking.

Perhaps the biggest feature of the Apple Watch will be the debut of another level of Apple Pay, which has been around since October on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but certainly not on your wrist. The Apple Watch will also be compatible with the iPhone 5, 5s and 5c, just in case you don’t have the iPhone 6.

To get started with Apple Pay on the iPhone 5, you’ll simply download the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, select the Passbook & Apple Pay option and add your credit or debit cards information via iTunes or by using the iSight camera on your iPhone. Finally, the Passbook feature on my iPhone 5 will have a real purpose. Then just find a retailer with Apple Pay capabilities and wave your Apple Watch near a NFC (Near Field Communication) reader to pay for your stuff.

It should be noted that Apple did not include NFC capability in previous iPhones, while other smartphones, such as the Android devices and BlackBerry, ran with the NFC chip and had bragging rights over the iPhone. But now, it seems clear that Apple was reserving the NFC chip for Apple Pay in the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, which explains their tight lips about NFC over the past few years. The question going forward is what other technological features does Apple have planned for the NFC technology besides Apple Pay and the Apple Watch.

I’m sure the question of how secure is Apple Pay pops in your mind when you’re shopping and paying with your watch. According to Apple, this technology does not use your actual credit card number, opting instead for a unique account number that is encrypted, stored only in the Apple Watch and protected by a passcode. Apple says with this method, transaction details are not stored anywhere else, such as on Apple’s servers or in the cloud, and you never reveal your card number or security code to anyone.

Although the Apple Watch hardware will be pretty snazzy, it’ll be the apps from iOS developers that will determine the success of this device. The apps’ developers have been hard at work since November, when Apple announced the availability of WatchKit, the software that iOS designers have been using to develop apps. We’ll surely see third-party apps that’ll take full advantage of the Force Touch, Digital Crown and Taptic Engine features of the Apple Watch. Just a glance at your wrist will trigger notifications, alerts and information for things that you care about.

If you’re convinced by now and ready to make a selection, the Apple Watch will be available in three collections - the Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition, with the latter being the cream of the crop.

The Sport collection will have five colors (white, blue, green, pink, black) for the fluoroelastomer band and choices of silver and space gray for the case. There will be 10 different models of band and case combinations in this collection. When you open your wallet, you’ll need around $350 to bring the cheapest size home.

Moving on up, you might consider the Apple Watch Collection, which has the stainless steel case and a space black stainless steel case as options. Then you’ll choose among three leather bands, a link bracelet, a fully-magnetic Milanese loop or a fluoroelastomer band. There will be 20 different models in this collection and you’ll need add a few more bucks to reach around $550 to start thinking about putting one on your wrist.

Now for the grandness of them all with certainly the “wow factor” is the Apple Watch Edition, where Apple tells us each “case is crafted from 18-karat gold” and the display is “polished sapphire crystal.” You can even get a bright red buckle with a matching crown to dress it up further for bragging rights. If you have to know, the price will be right at $10,000 and up. I hope it holds the value over the years, because I think this more of an investment than a fad.

If you don’t want to stand in line, pre-orders start on April 10 and if you like long lines, be at the Apple Stores bright and early on April 24.

Apple will dangle almost 40 choices of the Apple Watch and is hoping for a lot of bites.

Read more here: Todist app now available for Apple Watch