You're planning on crossing international borders, but don't want to leave your smartphone behind. After all, it's got your contacts, apps, and other important data on it. The problem is, wireless cellular networks aren't the same for every country.
It's particularly divided in the US, where Verizon and Sprint use CDMA technology and T-Mobile and AT&T use GSM--the network technology used internationally in over 220 countries. If you have a CDMA-only phone, you'll have to rent a phone or mobile broadband device when you travel overseas. GSM phone owners can more simply rent a SIM card (see more caveats here, though).
If you're traveling with an iPhone or Android phone from another country to the US, here are your options on T-Mobile and AT&T for getting internet access and calling features on your own phone.
Apple showed off all the things at its WWDC developers conference today. I was surprised by Apple's divergence from its cat-based OS X naming convention to using "Mavericks" for the next version, tickled pink by the MacBook Air Haswell updates, and, plainly, overwhelmed by all the other iCloud and iOS 7 updates. But one point Apple made today caught my eye and is significant for anyone who works on an iPad for, well, work: iWork in the iCloud.
iWork for iCloud, currently in beta, will let you open Apple's versions of Microsoft Office software--Pages (Word), Keynote (PowerPoint), Numbers (Excel)--in any browser, on the Mac or PC (or, I'm guessing, Linux). Apple's office suite is now truly a competitor to Microsoft Office Web Apps and Google Docs. And it will open Microsoft Office files as well.
In short, it's like Google's recent Microsoft Office market-share-grabbing play, Chrome Office Viewer, which opens MS Office files in Chrome and Google Docs.
The point is that everyone wants to be your office-suite-in-the-cloud, but Microsoft Office is still the standard. Between the Microsoft, Google, and Apple solutions, I think Microsoft still has the edge--but perhaps not for long.
In any case, having online, full editing access to your docs and spreadsheets (whichever office suite you choose) is a wonderful thing if you're a web worker--especially if you use a tablet and a regular laptop/desktop for work.
At its WWDC developer conference today, Apple announced its new MacBook Air models. Most notably, these laptops are getting the next-generation Intell Haswell processor, which means a huge bump in battery life.
The 11-inch MacBook Air, for example, currently has a 5-hour battery life rating, and the next-generation model will have nearly twice that: 9 hours of battery life. The 13-inch model is going from 7 hours to 12 hours.
Apple is also making 802.11ac the new wireless network standard in these laptops. Though there are few 802.11ac (a.k.a. 5G Wi-Fi) routers currently on the market, not doubt this will definitely pave the way for broader adoption of this faster Wi-Fi standard.
Both of these changes are great for mobile users, but they aren't much of a surprise. Haswell, we've heard from Intel before, could power laptops for even longer periods (up to 24 hours), so the longer battery life isn't specific to MacBooks. All upcoming Haswell laptops should boast that longer battery life or more (and it's one reason I'm waiting for Haswell before buying my next laptop). Wireless-AC or 802.11ac, similarly, is just the next step in faster, better Wi-Fi.
Still, all-day battery life and faster Wi-Fi are definitely welcome laptop improvements. The 11-inch MacBook Air will start at $999 and the 13-inch model will cost $1,299 (down from $1,399).
Jared Newman writes on Time that he's still waiting for the perfect Windows 8 hybrid, and I couldn't agree more. But we've been waiting so long for the perfect tablet-laptop hybrid that at this point, it's probably best to wait it out until Haswell laptops surface. Even though the wait is really killing me.
Some of you may already know that I've been lusting for a new laptop--particularly one with an active digitizer so I can write on it--for months. The Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T was close, but had too many issues. The ThinkPad Helix, which is the closest I've seen so far to the perfect Windows 8 laptop, finally is available for order, but starts at even more than was promised back in January: $1,679. (And it doesn't even have a SD card reader.)
The Toshiba Portege Z10t looks like it would fit the bill (though the mounting hinge is kind of off-putting). It's got an 11.6-inch 1080p IPS screen, Wacom digitizer, and is a business-class laptop (which often means a better build). It's just 0.53" thick and weighs 3.1 pounds with the keyboard, which unfortunately doesn't have an additional battery. But it's not going to be out until June 25th. By then Haswell will be out.
Haswell, Intel's next processor platform, will bring the expected graphics improvements plus a whopping battery life of supposedly a full 24 hours. At the Computex trade show, Intel promised its latest chip will power "a new breed of 2-in-1 devices," according to ZDNet.
The bad news is, just like when current generation processor Ivy Bridge rolled out, it'll be months before we see Haswell in mainstream laptops, since the chips will first be released to the more powerful quad-core models. So, September or October--just in time for back to school specials, at least, and if my patience doesn't run thin by then, maybe even the Cyber Monday and all that jazz (though the deals will be mostly for older models rather than the shiny new tablet-laptops I'm hoping for).
So the wait is on. What do you think?
Finally! Twitter has added two-factor authentication, which requires a second check (a verification code sent to your phone) when you sign into the service from an unknown device. This is a much-needed feature for online accounts to prevent hackers from taking over your account (and we've seen that happen a lot, on Twitter especially). Here's how to get this set up and the other places you need to turn on two-factor authentication.
For Twitter, log into your account, click on the gear icon in the navigation bar, and choose Settings (or go to https://twitter.com/settings/account). Next to the Account security setting, check "Require a verification code when I sign in." If that's grayed out, you'll first need to add a phone to your account and then go back to the Settings to turn on two-factor authentication. Learn more from Twitter's announcement.
Where else should you turn on this extra security feature? In a word, everywhere. Most importantly:
- Your email account(s). See instructions for Gmail.
- All financial service accounts (bank, investments, etc.)
- Password-management sites, such as LastPass
- Online storage service providers, including Dropbox
- Microsoft(used for your SkyDrive, Office Web, Xbox, Windows 8 PC login, and more)
- Other social media sites, such as Facebook
- WordPress, if you have a WP blog (see my post on ITworld), other webhosting service, and domain name service providers
Here's a cool new feature Google has rolled out (in addition to the many other amazing things the company announced at its I/O developers conference): payments via email. Now all you need to do to send someone money quickly is send him or her an email from Gmail.
Google has wrapped Google Wallet, its mobile payment system, into Gmail. To pay someone, the Official Gmail Blog says, you just need to click on the $ icon in the attachment bar when composing an email. Sending money in Gmail is only available on desktop right now, but you can also visit wallet.google.com from a mobile device. To do either, you'll need to set up Google Wallet first.
Just as I was writing this: News that other mobile payment provider Square will also allow sending money via email through a new product called Square Cash.
Looks like we're getting even closer to a wallet-less future.
Adobe's mobile app Photoshop Express is now available for Windows 8 devices, including the Surface and other touchscreen laptops and tablet PCs. The Windows 8 app allows for basic photo editing as well as one-touch auto-fixing, slider controls to enhance images, and Instagram-like filters.
You can also upload the photos from within the app to Adobe Revel to sync them across your Windows devices and other platforms.
As more touch-optimized apps like this roll in each day, Windows 8 tablets potential as a great productivity tool--even in the Metro interface--gets even better.
Also interesting, as the Creative Blog points out, Photoshop Express comes hot on the heels of Adobe announcing it was moving Creative Suite software to the cloud and nixing desktop software.
If you have a Windows 8 laptop, tablet, or desktop PC, you're not limited to just the default themes that come with Windows 8. There are tons of free wallpapers available around the web, but in addition to those, you can use theme packs direct from Microsoft. These are packs of desktop background pictures, window colors, and sounds. New themes are available now with some stunning natural photos of Alaska, New Zealand, and Sweden, as well as a sweet illustration.
In addition to the new themes announced recently, other themes you can download for free from Windows cover all sorts of categories, including panoramic (dual-monitor) themes, animals, movies, holidays, and more.
They're a great way to freshen up your desktop and keep you inspired as you work with your Windows 8 PC.
Related: 8 Things to Know About Windows 8
By now, you've probably heard mentions of Google Glass, Google's tech-enabled eyeglasses that feed you information about what you're seeing without you even having to ask, Terminator-like. Maybe you've even seen a geek or two wearing one of these newfangled wearable computers. But what the heck does Google Glass really do and how does it work? This infographic explains how Google Glass might be the ultimate mobile accessory.
Photo via Ghacks
Google's SMS Search was one of the best things for mobile users who don't have a data plan: With it, you could send a text message to Google with your search query and get back the results via text. Unfortunately, even though there's no official shutdown notice from Google, many users are reporting on Ghacks SMS search has been shut down. Google is encouraging people to use the mobile web instead.
Of course, that doesn't help anyone who's paying by the minute for a data plan or don't have one at all.
There are still other services that can make your regular cell phone (a.k.a. feature phone or dumbphone) smarter. Here are four services that give you free information and assistance--no data plan required.