Our world is becoming more and more connected as technology continues to innovate in new and exciting ways. One of the latest trends in consumer technology is to integrate traditionally connected devices (such as smartphones and tablets) with those which haven’t been networked before (such as TVs or thermostats). Iris is a product which is moving us toward total home integration.
What is Iris?
Iris is a way to connect certain home features to your smartphone, tablet or computer so that you can access these features even when you’re not in the house. It uses your home internet connection to let you control certain aspects of your home, such as your thermostat or alarm system, when you’re away. Did you forget to turn the thermostat down before you went to work? Iris makes that little more than a minor inconvenience.
How can Iris help me?
Well, for one thing, it allows you to control your house’s alarm system and thermostat remotely. Nobody home in the summer time? You can let the house get a few degrees warmer. Iris will also send notifications when people enter or leave your home, so you can know when it’s time to crank the AC.
Since you can control your home alarm, you don’t have to worry about your kids leaving the house without turning on the alarm, or if you had to rush to work in the morning and forgot to activate the alarm, you can do so through Iris.
Another benefit to Iris is cost. Most alarm systems cost $100 or more a month. However, Iris premium service is only $9.99 a month. Those savings can add up. Plus, there’s the potential to save on your utility bills with the thermostat controls.
What do I need for Iris?
You need to purchase an Iris kit from Lowe’s. There are several different packages available that can offer different capabilities. You’ll also need to have a working internet connection, like HomeFusion from Verizon Wireless (visit a Cellular Sales store near you). After that, you just need to do some configuring, following the instructions in the Iris kit, and you should be good to go.
Iris offers a way to control certain aspects of your home and save money at the same time. That’s not a bad combination, is it?
Technology has become a staple of our lives with innovation moving at a breakneck pace. Just think, 20 years ago almost nobody had the internet. Ten years ago, the word “smartphone” wasn’t in many people’s vocabulary. Five years ago, tablets were unheard of.
One of the latest innovations to hit the market is the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA).
What is DLNA?
We all have digital devices, whether that’s a smartphone, tablet, TV, game system, digital camera, computer or any other number of consumer electronics. However, outside of physically connecting these devices, they don’t “speak” to each other. DLNA allows all your electronics to communicate with each other.
What can DLNA do for me?
Let’s say you took a picture with your smartphone, and you want to print it out. You probably are going to email it to yourself, download it from the email and then print it, right? With DLNA, you can print that photo by sending it directly to the printer.
Here’s another scenario. You have some people over and want to show them a funny YouTube video. Instead of trying to get everyone to crowd around your tablet screen, DLNA gives you the ability to watch that video on your TV screen wirelessly.
It’s all about integration, cross-compatibility and providing a way for all your devices to work with each other.
How can I get DLNA?
You probably already have several of the individual pieces needed to form a DLNA network. There is a slew of DLNA-compatible products already on the market. The only other thing you need is a WiFi connection. You can technically use DLNA through wired connections, but it kind of defeats the purpose. Once you have DLNA devices and an internet connection, you’ve got yourself a DLNA network.
If you’re interested in learning more about DLNA or DLNA-compatible products, talk to your local Cellular Sales Verizon Wireless rep.
If you are a serial tweeter, Echofon is an app that can make the Twitter experience on smartphones and tablets just a little bit easier. A third-party Twitter app, Echofon doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does offer some subtle features which heavy Twitter users may find refreshing. The ability to click on user names, links and hashtags directly from the timeline; to retweet with comments; and to switch between multiple accounts without logging in and out are what sets Echofon apart.
One of the newest players on the social media landscape, Vine is growing in popularity at an enormous rate. This app, which is owned by Twitter, gives users the ability to create six-second, looping videos. Think of it as a new version of the GIF. In addition to having its own Instagram-style wall (with videos instead of images), it also allows seamless sharing on Twitter. A lot of people are still trying to figure out Vine’s uses, but many predict it will become huge in 2013. It’s worth noting that it’s not currently available on Android, but it should be arriving on that platform soon.
If you’re not on Instagram yet, then what are you waiting for? This app burst onto the scene in 2012, attracting the attention of Facebook, which bought it for a cool $1 billion. Inspired by the look of over-exposed photos from the 60s and 70s, this app gives users the ability to apply different filters to their photos, providing a lot of options for altering the look of your images. In addition to its photo-editing capabilities, there’s also a social aspect, as you can follow other Instagram accounts and see other people’s Instagram photos.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For the on-the-go texter, Snapchat can be worth an immeasurable amount of verbiage. This app allows users to send images to their friends’ smartphone or tablet, with the caveat that the photo will disappear after 10 seconds. It also offers the ability to caption images before you send them. If you’ve ever wanted to send your friend a picture of you making a goofy face, but didn’t want that silly expression to live on forever, Snapchat is your outlet.
As we are given more and more options, social media can get overwhelming at times. The constant urge to tweet, post, pin, like, share, check in and hang out can bog you down at times. HootSuite helps alleviate at least some of this madness. It offers a place to organize and keep track of all your social media profiles, allowing you to seamlessly send a tweet and then check your Facebook without having to cycle through all the different apps on your smartphone or tablet. While it’s not compatible with every social network, it does work with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, mixi (a Japanese site) and even MySpace.
Many former University of Tennessee athletes, who now host shows on TSR, were available to meet fans and sign autographs. Former UT and New York Jets quarterback, Erik Ainge, was even on hand to challenge fans in games of NCAA Football on Xbox 360. In addition to Ainge, Jayson Swain, Chris Treece, Gerald Riggs, Jr., and Steven Pearl all made appearances.
“We had a great time at Cellular Sales,” Ainge said. “The turnout was amazing, and everyone had fun playing video games and learning about all of the awesome products and services from Verizon that Cellular Sales offers.”
It was a fun event for all who participated, as those who came by were able to munch on some delicious food catered by Calhoun’s and pick up a free Tennessee Sports Radio t-shirt. And who doesn’t love a free t-shirt?
“Any time I can hang out, talk to, take pictures with and engage with my fans is time well-spent,” Ainge said. “Cellular Sales gets that. Their entire business model is completely built around taking care of and engaging their customers. This event was another example of how they do things differently, and they do it very well.”
We really enjoyed hosting the guys from Tennessee Sports Radio, and we were glad to be able to bring this kind of event to our customers. It was really fun to get to see people meeting their sports idols for the first time.
The game that has entertained elementary school students in computer labs for generations is now available on smartphones. This timeless classic is sure to keep the kids occupied for a couple of hours as they get to experience the daunting journey across the Oregon Trail in 19th Century America. Besides, it has become a rite of passage in modern times to realize how treacherous fording a river is, where so many good oxen have been lost.
The in-car sing along is a road trip staple, particularly with young children. Wheels on the Bus can serve as your maestro. Aside from just holding a cache of children’s songs, the app provides other fun features to keep the kids entertained. It can sing in different languages, provide different musical instrument accompaniments and record your in-vehicle performances.
Toca Boca Hair Salon 2 (iOS)
This creative app is bound to hold your kids’ attention for at least a hundred miles. Toca Boca Hair Salon 2 gives users the creative freedom most hair stylists can only dream of. It lets players use their own creative devices to cut, style, shave, curl and accessorize the hair of several different characters. Just be mindful that it might inspire your child to test their hair-styling prowess on an unsuspecting parent or sibling.
Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Collection #1 (iOS)
Bring the magical storytelling of Dr. Seuss to your iPhone or iPad with the Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Collection #1. This app puts five of the iconic author’s works onto your mobile device and adds interactive options to the reading experience. It can follow along as you or your child reads the story. It will highlight words when a picture is touched and add sound effects, among other features. This is a bit pricy when compared to other apps at $14.99, but considering you get five books with it (The Cat in the Hat, The FOOT Book, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Mr. Brown Can MOO! Can You? and Fox in Socks), it is a bargain. Also, the collection is not available on Android or Window devices, but you can buy Dr. Seuss books individually in the Android store.
If your kids are going to be traveling, they might as well learn some geography, right? Kids Maps presents the U.S. map as a puzzle game. Aside from having fun and learning where the states are located, this tablet app also teaches children fun facts about each state.
Samsung has unveiled its much-anticipated new smartphone release—the Galaxy S4.
The handset, which is slated for a late-April release, has numerous new features Samsung put on display during an introductory press conference. Here’s a breakdown of some of the new features for one of the premier brands on the market.
We’ll focus less on the features one would expect from a new smartphone model (i.e. 4G capability) and stick to those which aren’t available on just any phone in the store.
- Camera – One of the most talked-about topics after Samsung’s press conference was the S4’s camera. The rear camera has an incredible 13 megapixels. By comparison, the iPhone 5’s lauded camera is 8 megapixels. Beyond the high quality of photos it can take, the S4 also allows users to take photos simultaneously with the rear and front cameras. This gives you the option of taking two pictures at the same time and super-imposing one over the other.
- Smart Pause – The front camera (the one on the same side as the phone’s screen) incorporates eye-tracking technology to figure out, for example, when you’re looking at your phone and when you aren’t. Say you’re watching a video, and you look away. Smart Pause will pause the video when you glance away and restart it when you look back at your phone.
- Smart Scroll – In the same spirit as Smart Pause, the new S4 will also have Smart Scroll. This gives the user the option of scrolling (such as when on the web) by tilting the handset.
- Group Play – This is a type of sharing feature that can have some neat uses. For instance, you can share your music with your friends who have Galaxies and turn each device into a different speaker, allowing you to create surround sound using smartphones. This is a feature that could be expanded even further once app makers incorporate it.
- Air Gesture – This feature allows you to execute commands on your phone by using gestures. You can set your gestures so that, say, waving your hand in front of the screen will exit an app or making a check mark with your finger will lock the screen.
There are many more new features on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Feel free to stop by a Cellular Sales location and ask a wireless expert to learn more.
The serial business flyer knows that where you sit on the plane can be the difference between a pleasant flight and a horrible one. SeatGuru is a smartphone app that lets you book flights, and even select your seat on the plane. It also provides information that will help you make decisions by showing where on the plane the power ports are, how much the seat reclines, as well as user reviews.
In online travel-booking, there is a never-ending onslaught of confirmation and reservation numbers: for flights, hotels, car rentals, etc. TripIt, available for smartphones and tablets, organizes these numbers for you in one convenient app. All you have to do is forward your confirmation emails to a TripIt email address. TripIt then puts them in the app, allowing you to have them all in one place.
Simply Declare (iOS)
Recording expenses is a necessary part of business travel, and for those who are on a company expense budget, an app like Simply Declare can be invaluable. This iPhone app lets you put in your daily or overall budget. As you input expenditures, Simply Declare keeps track of how well you are doing at staying on budget. In addition to helping users keep track of expenses, one can also take photos of receipts and email them (to yourself or someone else), and for international travelers, there is a currency converter.
If you’re on a business trip in a big city, chances are you’re probably going to need to get a cab at some point. Taxi Magic will bring a cab to you, and you won’t have to dial a single number. Instead of having to flag one down or search for local companies, the app will use the GPS on your phone to send a cab directly to you. It even allows a customer to pay for the cab using the smartphone app. Taxi Magic works with cab companies in 43 U.S. cities, as well as London and Vancouver.
One thing smartphone users dread the most—losing their phone. Since people traveling for business are often using their phones for work, this can be more than just a slight inconvenience that can be fixed with a trip to the mobile store. Lookout allows you to track your phone, sound an alarm/page it if it’s lost or erase the memory remotely. This way you can either find your lost device or make sure any sensitive information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.