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Which cloud storage service should you choose for your smartphone?

Cloud Storage Services1 Which cloud storage service should you choose for your smartphone?

The past week was a big one for cloud storage services. Microsoft released a major update to SkyDrive, adding support for desktop sync and premium storage tiers, Dropbox updated its service, and Google finally took the wraps off of Google Drive. The three platforms share many similarities, so which one should you choose?

There are numerous factors that go into choosing a cloud storage service, including compatibility, integration with existing services, pricing (when applicable), maximum available storage, and–most important for smartphone users–platform availability. Plus, each service, particularly SkyDrive and Google Drive, offers additional benefits for its parent company’s platform of choice. Let’s take a closer look.

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Smartphones heavily contributing to the timely demise of desktops

mobile consumer usage Smartphones heavily contributing to the timely demise of desktops

As I sit here, in front of my QWERTY-endowed, web-connected PC, chatting with my editor-in-chief via my Droid, I can’t help but wonder at the slow death smartphones are dealing to desktop PCs. We’ve all been hearing the doomsday reports that the desktop PC is dying. First it was PDAs, then laptops, and now smartphones and tablets have joined the fray. And we can’t forget the “PC gaming is the only thing keeping desktops alive—the PS3 and XBOX 360 have killed desktops!” declarations.

My argument has always been that you can’t kill the desktop, and it still stands—there will always, always be a need for high-end stationary computing, in the enterprise and geek worlds, if nowhere else. However, for the masses, I think we are finally seeing the actual end of desktops. Why, you may ask? The answer is complicated, but the highlights are speed, speed, speed, and convenience.

With the advent of large-scale LTE, mobile internet is actually faster than most standard wired internet. Take where I live, for example. I live smack inside of one of Verizon’s LTE clusters. Even on last-gen 3G, my speeds often top 1.3Mbps—better than many DSL connections, and better than anything offered at my “little house on the ranch.” Not only that, it’s at least $20 a month cheaper than my cheapest “standard” option.

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Where there’s smoke, there’s not always fire

Smoked By Windows Phone SoCal 560x294 Where theres smoke, theres not always fire

Microsoft’s “Smoked by Windows Phone” campaign has really taken off in recent months. The brainchild of Ben “The PC Guy” Rudolph, “Smoked by Windows Phone” started off as a challenge at CES, the results of which were published on YouTube and the Windows Phone Blog. It became so popular that, before long, Rudolph took it on a road trip to Microsoft Stores in Southern California. Soon after it exploded, turning into an online advertising campaign and, just this past weekend, expanding to nearly every Microsoft Store retail location. Of course, something so popular is bound to have a strong reaction, both positive and negative. But is the internet making it into a bigger deal than it actually is?

Early on, some people tried to claim that Microsoft was cheating, but they were proved wrong every time. And, having watched “Smoked by Windows Phone” in action at CES (I wasn’t allowed to participate because I already own a Windows Phone), I can say that it was run very fairly. Ben Rudolph has been very honest and upfront about his record, both the wins (88% at CES, 100% in Southern California) and the losses.

Now, with Microsoft Store retail associates taking over the challenge in lieu of Rudolph, who is based out of Microsoft’s corporate headquarters in Redmond, the challenge is receiving more press than ever before. Whereas Microsoft previously awarded winners with a crisp $100 bill and sent losers away with a Windows Phone as a consolation prize for being forced to admit their defeat on camera, now winners will receive a $1,000 Ultrabook. Increasing the stakes has managed to fill Microsoft Stores with customers waiting for their chance to smoke Windows Phone or walk away with one themselves.

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Are smartphones the future of finance?

Android Money cropped 560x233 Are smartphones the future of finance?

Are smartphones the future of finance? This is a question that, provided with a substantiated answer, would stand to make a lot of people very rich. More individually, its answer stands to define how we interact with just about everything, and immediately it may affect our mobile purchasing decisions. I, for example, will most certainly require NFC in my next smartphone, and my guess at answering is yes, smartphones are the future of finance, but not for a while yet.

Smartphones are the ultimate electronic multi-tool, and are now becoming more and more usable as a bank-in-your-pocket. The most prolific use is mobile banking which ranges from basic overdraft text alerts to mobile check cashing—thanks to high-resolution cameras—to secure transfers and bill payments. The latest craze is credit card readers. Many self-employed and even large businesses are utilizing various add-on credit card readers—such as Intuit’s GoPayment—allowing for instant invoicing, payment, and receipt generation anytime, anywhere.

The mobile finance buzzword of the year is Near Field Communication, or NFC. NFC itself is not inherently money-related, but has recently become nearly ubiquitous with mobile payments. NFC has had an incredibly slow uptake by the market at large, but recent traction gains have some asking if this is the future of money. Could an ultra-successful NFC system spell the end for plastic, paper, and coins?

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The Windows Phone 8 “Apollo” feature list

Windows Phone 8 560x117 The Windows Phone 8 Apollo feature list

Last Updated: October 1, 2012

Last year, Microsoft added more than 500 features to its mobile operating system as part of the Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” update. When the company officially unveiled the update near the end of May 2011, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer proudly touted Mango’s 500 features. But with no further details available, we decided to take on the job of maintaining a list of every publicly announced feature in the update. “The Great Windows Phone Mango Feature List” quickly became one of the most popular features in the history of our site. With details about Windows Phone 8 “Apollo” beginning to surface, we decided it was time to do it again.

As with last year, we have broken down the list into four categories: new, confirmed, rumored, and debunked. New features are just that, brand new. This category includes never-before-seen features direct from Microsoft. Rumored features, on the other hand, are unconfirmed. They run the gamut from reliable to wild speculation. Confirmed features were previously rumored, but later confirmed by the software giant. Debunked features, finally, started off as rumors and were eventually proven false.

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How Microsoft can improve Windows Phone in 2012

 

Windows Phone in 2012 How Microsoft can improve Windows Phone in 2012

Having just taken a look at Windows Phone in the year that was 2011, we now turn our focus toward the future. Windows Phone is an excellent smartphone OS, and we would recommend it to anyone wholeheartedly. Of course, it isn’t perfect. With the end of the year just a few hours away, we thought we’d take a page from Paul Thurrott and list how we think Microsoft and its partners can improve Windows Phone in 2012.

The Hardware: Nokia + Internal Memory

Windows Phone hardware is, for the most part, quite good. The variety of manufacturers and devices give consumers choice (unlike the iPhone), while Microsoft’s stringent hardware and performance requirements ensure that every single device is fast and fluid (unlike Android). We do, however, think it could be improved somewhat.

When it comes to picking a Windows Phone handset, there are really only a few key differentiators: the camera, battery life, screen size, and internal memory. Sure, processor speeds and RAM will vary, and some phones come with exclusive apps. But these four items are the most important things to look for in a Windows Phone. You’re pretty much guaranteed to get a good device no matter what you pick, but customers generally place a higher priority on these features. Other hardware features–like NFC–are just a plus.

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Windows Phone in 2011: a year in review

Windows Phone 560x403 Windows Phone in 2011: a year in review

With 2011 coming to a close, we thought we’d look back on Windows Phone’s first full year on the market. Things started out a bit rocky, but Microsoft and its partners managed to accomplish some impressive feats over the last twelve months.

At the beginning of January, with just two months on the market, Windows Phone had approximately 2,500 developers and a library of just over 5,000 apps. Now, the platform has swelled to more than 13,000 developers and 50,000 apps. Of course, early on, the marketplace browsing experience needed a bit of work. Thankfully, the “NoDo” update, as it was codenamed, fixed these issues and added a few minor features like copy and paste.

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iOS 5, welcome to Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry

Apple iOS 5 200+ new features for iPad iPhone and iPod touch. Google Chrome 672011 85605 AM.bmp 560x280 iOS 5, welcome to Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry

In case you’ve been sleeping under a bridge, Apple yesterday had a pretty big announcement regarding the future of their mobile OS. There are numerous new features being introduced such as Notifications, Twitter support, an actual dedicated camera button, reminder app, iCloud and so on. This should vastly improve the user experience for iOS users, and that’s a great thing. I can’t help but wonder why nearly ALL of their “new” features seem familiar though? Hit the break for a breakdown on Apple’s theft of every other mobile OS out there. Continue reading…

The Great Windows Phone Mango Feature List

WP7 APIs 560x313 The Great Windows Phone Mango Feature List

Last Updated: August 30, 2011

Now that the news from yesterday’s Windows Phone Mango event has had time to settle, we thought we’d compile a list of all of the known features included in the update. On the eve of the event, Steve Ballmer claimed that Mango contained more than 500 new features. This figure was reiterated on stage during the event. Unfortunately, Microsoft has yet to provide an official list, forcing technology enthusiasts to speculate on just what the massive list contains. Does the number of currently announced features come anywhere close?

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Windows Phone Marketplace changes guidelines, hopes to bring higher quality apps.

windows phone 7 marketplace Windows Phone Marketplace changes guidelines, hopes to bring higher quality apps.

 

The guidelines in the Windows Phone Marketplace are there to make sure application developers deliver a nice experience to users. Recently, Microsoft has changed some of the guidelines, making things a bit more strict on developers, trying to clean up a few things. Continue reading…