Tag: Smartphone

Should You Upgrade To Apple’s iPhone XS Or iPhone XR?

A large chunk of Apple’s audience is already lighting their bank accounts on fire in anticipation of all the neat new gear they can start preordering this week.

That’s just the way it is, and partly why Apple can afford to do things like build sprawling, $200 buildings in the heart of Silicon Valley.

No matter the price, or specifications, a lot of people are going to order one of the new iPhones: the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, or iPhone XS Max—a naming convention Apple totally didn’t borrow from that other company.

You, however, are a reasonable Lifehacker reader who isn’t afraid to pay big bucks for sweet, geeky gear, but only if it provides a value and experience that’s greater than that which you already have.

In other words, you don’t buy based on hype, and you don’t need an upgrade just because it’s new; you need an upgrade if it’s actually worth buying.

Should you buy a new iPhone? Let’s explore:




iPhones: The XR, XS, and XS Max

iPhone XS

Key specs

  • iPhone XR: 6.1-inch “Liquid Retina” LCD display; 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB storage; red, yellow, white, coral, black, and blue finishes; A12 Bionic chip; 12MP wide-angle camera; 7MP front-facing “TrueDepth” camera. Ranging from $749 to $899.
  • iPhone XS: 5.8-inch OLED display; 64GB, 256GB or 512GB storage; gold, space gray, and silver finishes; A12 Bionic chip; 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras; 7MP front-facing “TrueDepth” camera. Ranging from $999 to $1,349.
  • iPhone XS Max: 6.5-inch OLED display. Everything else the iPhone XS has. Ranging from $1,099 to $1,449.

If you own an iPhone X…

The iPhone XR—the “r” stands for “really colorful”

Congratulations: Your expensive smartphone lasted less time than the iPhone 8, as your relic is no longer purchasable from Apple… but the iPhone 8 (and even the iPhone 7) are still there.

This makes sense, of course, since there’s absolutely no reason to buy an iPhone X with Apple dropping three new iPhones (two XSs and an XR) that basically take all the good things about the iPhone X and reconfigure them in different ways.

If you upgrade—and I don’t think it makes sense to upgrade—you’re not getting all that much, hardware-wise.

That’s not to say the A12 Bionic chip in the iPhone XS isn’t faster: Apple claims performance boosts of 15 percent for its two “performance” cores; a speed boost of 50 percent from its apple-design GPU; and eight-core neural engine that can reach 5 trillion operations per second.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Smartphone Overuse May ‘Damage’ Eyes, Say Opticians

They are warning overuse from phones and other devices like computers, tablets, and flat screen TVs can lead to long-term damage.

It comes as a survey of 2,000 people suggests under 25s check their phones thirty-two times a day.

Optician Andy Hepworth said: “Blue violet light is potentially hazardous and toxic to the back of your eyes. So over a long period of time it can potentially damage your eyes.

“When you’re looking at a smart phone, the light peaking out of that is blue violet.”




He says tests have found that over exposure to blue-violet light has the potential to put us at greater risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

Opticians say that, although “good” blue light (blue-turquoise) is needed to help regulate biological clocks, it is also thought that extensive exposure to blue violet light can disrupting sleep patterns and affect moods.

Although we don’t know if there’s a direct link with it creating eye problems, there is strong lab evidence it can potentially do that,” Andy added.

It’s the combination of not blinking enough and bringing the device closer than you normally look at objects – it strains your eyes.”

More headaches

The survey, commissioned by a group of independent opticians, found that on average, an adult spends nearly seven hours a day staring at a screen with nearly half feeling anxious when away from their phone.

Statistics also suggest 43% of under 25s experience genuine irritation or anxiety when they can’t check their phone when they want.

It also found 55% felt the amount of screen time they’re exposed to affects them with eye discomfort the main problem.

She said: “I’ve definitely noticed that my eyes are getting worse from staring at my computer and phone.

“I am getting more headaches.”

Amanda Saint, who is also an optician, says the advice is simple.

Get your eyes tested regularly and take regular breaks from your computer and hand held device.”

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3 Ways To Cure The Cell Phone Dead Zone At Home

Can you hear me?” “Can you hear me now?” If most of your cellphone conversations begin this way — or if you’ve taken to hanging out a window just to get a signal — you’re not alone.

Spotty cellphone service can be especially frustrating when you have full bars in your building’s lobby or hallway but one measly bar as soon as you set foot inside your home.

It turns out, there are good explanations for why this occurs (no, the cellphone gods aren’t trying to punish you for posting too many selfies) and solutions that renters can easily implement. Here’s how.




Cause #1: The position of your building’s cellphone antenna

Cell carriers in all major cities position their cell sites close to the ground because that’s where most of the people are,” says Graham Caparulo, principal consultant for Diligex, a New York, NY–based managed IT services provider.

On the corners of buildings, you’ll see them 20 to 30 feet up, and they’re angled toward the street.” That doesn’t do you much good, especially if you live on the 30th floor of a high-rise.

Cause #2: Building materials can block radio signals

Tinted windows (especially the ones found on “green buildings”), concrete, and metal all interfere with cellphone reception — which is why you can often get more bars if you hold your phone out your window or step onto a balcony.

Cause #3: You live in a densely populated area

Have you ever noticed that your service is slower at night or on weekends, or when you attend a packed basketball game? The more people using a network, the slower it runs.

Each cell tower only has limited radio channels it can use,” says Caparulo. “When it’s full, you’ll have bars but can’t make a call or use data.

Solution #1: Invest in a cellphone booster

Invest” is the right word here, because a cell signal booster will typically set you back between $400 and $1,000.

A traditional cell signal booster takes in a signal on one end, amplifies it, and spits it out on the other end,” says Caparulo, who cautions that you have to have a good signal to work with in the first place, which may mean putting the booster’s antenna outside your window — a no-no in some apartment buildings.

Solution #2: Enlist a femtocell

A femtocell, also called a microcell, basically uses your Internet connection to back up your cellphone,” says Caparulo.

The device plugs right into your modem or router and uses your Internet connection as a cell signal booster.

Solution #3: Enable Wi-Fi calling on your smartphone

This feature, available on the iPhone 6 series and many Android phones, allows your phone to use your in-home Wi-Fi connection to make calls. (On the iPhone 6, go to “Settings,” then “Phone,” and it should be the first option.)

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Pass it on: Popular Science

5 Ways to Recycle Your Old Smartphone

Having your new phone on hand, you finally have an excuse to ditch your current smartphone. Even if your old phone’s glory days are far behind it, you can still get some value when you decide to get rid of it.

Recycling your smartphone is a great way to reduce electronic waste, help your outdated tech find a new life, support a good cause or even make a little money.




According to a November 2012 survey by Lookout, 62% of American households have old cellphones lying around, unused.

Discarded iPhones alone account for $9 billion of unused goods in consumers’ homes.

Here are eight things you can do to make parting with your old phone that much more exciting.

1. Donate Your Phone to the Troops

Non-profit Phones for Soldiers works to provide U.S. troops with a cost-free way to call home from their active stations.

Through recycling partner Mindful eCycling, old mobile phones are traded in for calling cards and other communications devices.

2. Sell It on Glyde

Looking for a one-stop shop for selling back all the old tech in your home?

Glyde lets you buy and sell a variety of devices, plus it compares the amounts you can fetch on its site with offers from Amazon, Apple and Gazelle.

3. Put It on an Appstand

This picture frame for your iPhone 3 or 3GS turns your old iPhone into a lovely piece of home decor.

Available on sale for $8.73, the Appstand lets you breathe new life into your outdated Apple smartphone.

4. Sell It Back to Apple

Apple will trade your old iPhone for an Apple gift card through its Reuse and Recycling program. Amounts vary depending on your phone’s make and model.

5. Donate to Survivors of Domestic Violence

Verizon has collected more than 10 million phones since 2001 for victims of domestic abuse: one in four U.S. women, one in seven men and nearly 3 million children.

To donate your old phone, drop it at a Verizon store, ship it or donate to a HopeLine phone drive.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

How To Track App Store Sales And iTunes Price Drops

Who doesn’t like App Store sales — or even better, sales on iTunes movies and music?

A few months ago I stumbled on an app called CheapCharts and I’ve been using it ever since to monitor App Store sales on apps I want to keep an eye on.

Aside from App Store sales, CheapCharts can also monitor sales across pretty much every other category including music, movies, books, and TV shows. CheapCharts is completely free to download and use.

Once you have CheapCharts installed, you can instantly launch it and start browsing through current apps and games that are on sale, or you can take things one step further.




How to track App Store sales and iTunes price drops with CheapCharts

  1. Launch the CheapCharts app and tap on the menu icon in the upper left hand corner.
  2. Tap on the search button.
  3. Type in an app, game, song, book, movie or TV show you want to track price drops for and search for it.
  4. Find it in the results and tap on its name.
  5. Tap on the Add to Wishlist option towards the top.
  6. The first time you do this you’ll be asked if you want to allow CheapCharts to send you notifications of price drops, choose Activate.

That’s pretty much it. Any apps you add to your wishlist, you’ll get a push notification every time the price changes. I use this frequently for movies that are new releases.

While they’re typically expensive right when they come out, they tend to drop in price fairly quickly.

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How To Return A Lost Phone To Its Owner

Annually millions of people around the world drop or forget their mobile phones at unknown places in unexpected circumstances.

Some of them are given back to their original owners while majority of them get reused or resold in cheap prices.

The loss of mobile phone is really an unfriendly experience to its original owner as it may contain private pictures, videos and other confidential information.

Although, nowadays we can lock the mobiles with pass-code or screen lock pattern, but yet they are prone to hackers.




The phone you have found if unlocked, then you can easily access the contact list and other useful information about the owner. You can also simply pop up the contact list and call some family member to inform about the phone.

But if you come across a phone which has security measures applied on it, it won’t be that easy to trace the actual owner.

So if you are someone who found a locked lost phone and wants to earn some good karma by returning it, here are some methods to do it.

With IMEI Number in Hand

Every smartphone made in the world comes with a unique IMEI (Internet Mobile Station Equipment Identity) number. But getting access to IMEI number totally depends on the manufacturer.

Some inscribe it beneath the battery while on some other devices you need to access the phone itself.

But in case the phone is locked and fortunately you have IMEI number from the hardware, you can call the OEM customer service for the information of the owner.

In most of the cases they will not give you the concerned information, but you can give your details to them and simply ask them to carry forward a message to the owner to pick up his/her phone from you.

Keep the Phone Charged and Answer the Incoming Calls

You can simply wait for the owner to calls himself on the mobile for the situation or you can answer any incoming call and inform them that this particular phone is with you and request to inform the actual owner.

Android Debug Technique

This Android Debug (ADB) technique can reveal a mobile’s lock pattern by following some easy steps. This technique requires you have proper ADB installed on your PC or laptop with a USB cable in hand.

If you are able to configure the ADB properly, you can now modify a file named ‘gestures.key’, which is still a security concern among Android phones. This will unlock the phone and you are now able to access the contact list.

Conclusion

Good people still exist in the world. It’s better to return the lost phone and as it will help clear the conscience and gives you motivation of good karma.

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Smartphone Addiction Can Lead To Chemical Imbalance In Brain

Smartphone and internet addiction can cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, especially in young people, according to new research released this week at the Radiological Society of North America.

As scientists continue to evaluate the physical and emotional effects of an increasingly screen-dependent population, researchers in South Korea found that teenagers addicted to their smartphones had increased levels of two types of neurotransmitters involved in a number of emotional and cognitive functions.




They included gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which slows down brain signals and is involved in vision and motor control and helps regulate emotions including anxiety.

The second chemical is glutamate-glutamine (Glx) and is known to cause neurons to fire more rapidly.

The study evaluated 19 young people with an average age of 15, who were diagnosed with an internet or smartphone addiction, compared to 19 healthy-controls.

The addicted youth also reported higher instances of depression, anxiety, insomnia severity and impulsiveness, in comparison with the “healthy” controls.

Using a Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) brain scan, researchers found that the addicted youth had higher elevations of both GABA and Glx compared to the controls, although the researchers said more study is needed to understand the exact implications of the imbalance.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

This App That Turns Your Phone Into A Sonar Detector To Monitor Lip Movement As You Speak

Biometric voice authentication is the technology that allows your voice to be recognized as a password.

Researchers say their sonar system called VoiceGesture can detect live users and whether or not people are misusing recordings for ‘replay attacks.

The fact that people share so much audio and video of themselves on social media makes it even easier for identity thieves to pass voice authentication tests fraudulently.

We hope to hear in early February,” Jie Yang at the State University of Florida in Tallahassee said.

The team also plan to expand the antispoofing technology’s applications to voice assistants, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

The detection system requires only a speaker and a microphone that are commonly available on smartphones.




It works by using the smartphone as a Doppler radar, which transmits a high frequency sound from the built-in speaker and listens to the reflections at the microphone when a user speaks their passphrase.

When a user sets their passphrase, the VoiceGesture app emits a barely audible, high pitched 20 kilohertz acoustic signal from the phone’s loudspeaker.

This signal bounces off the moving jaw, lips and tongue as they speak, and creates a unique ‘mouthprint‘.

The Doppler shift is the same effect that causes sirens from an emergency vehicle to change in pitch as it passes you by.

In a study with 21 participants and different types of phones, the VoiceGesture system achieved over 99 per cent detection accuracy at a 1 per cent Equal Error Rate.

The study also showed that the system works well with different voice frequencies and different phone placements – for example when the phone is placed by the ear or in front of the mouth.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Relieve Stress And Anxiety With This Top-Rated Meditation App

 

Recently, people around the world have embraced mindfulness practices as ways to find more inner happiness and cope with difficult emotional situations.

But it isn’t just a fad propagated by yoga studios and health food companies—technology is playing a major role in helping people regain mindfulness and restore balance to their lives.

One ambassador of mindfulness-through-technology is the AI powered meditation app Aura, which was voted Apple’s #1 new app in February 2017 and currently has a 5/5 star rating in the iOS App store.




It’s available for both iOS and Android, and while it normally costs around $100 per year, Engadget readers can get a lifetime subscription today for just $60 – over 80 percent off.

While there are plenty of different meditation apps on the market, Aura stands out from the rest with a host of unique features:

1. Aura fits with your schedule and attention span.

While some competitors offer 10-30 minute meditations, Aura has options that work for anyone’s schedule.

2. It uses Machine Learning to customize your meditations.

Aura is unique in that it’s a personal meditation coach that learns from your sessions and customizes your future meditations.

Before and after each meditation, Aura asks short questions about your current mood and uses sophisticated machine learning techniques to give you a unique experience that complements your emotional state every time you use it.

3. You can track your progress over time.

Aura also keeps track of your data to paint a detailed picture of the patterns of your mental ebbs and flows.

4. You get 24/7 access for life.

Their premium subscription gives you 24/7 access to all content, so you can have it on hand whenever you need a few moments of silence.

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This Application Can Identify A Mosquito’s Species By Its Buzz

It was late on a Friday night, and Haripriya Mukundarajan was trying to record the annoying buzz of a mosquito’s wings.

To fight mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, you need to know where they are—which species, in which places. Everything else flows from that.

A lot of labor goes into trapping, counting, and identifying the insects, but Mukundarajan figured there might be an easier way. Mosquitoes give themselves away through the vexing whine of every wingbeat.

If Mukundarajan could find an easy way of tracking that sound, perhaps she could develop an easy mosquito-detector.

So there she was in her lab at Stanford, with her mentor Manu Prakash, conducting the world’s unlikeliest recording session, with high-performance microphones that they had borrowed.

And then her cellphone rang.




The chiming made her wonder whether the phone could pick up a mosquito’s buzz, so she put in the cages, and found that it recorded the insects just as well as the fancy studio microphones.

We realized that people everywhere are walking around with mosquito detectors in their pockets,” she says.

A mosquito’s buzz reveals not only its presence, but also its identity.

Each species seems to hum at its own distinctive pitch, and Mukundarajan and Prakash have shown that cellphone recordings are good enough to classify these insects.

They’ve essentially created Shazam for mosquitoes. “I tell people there are 3,500 species of mosquitoes and they laugh,” says Prakash.

To them, it’s just a mosquito. We need to change that if we’re to fight these diseases properly.

In poor countries where mosquito-borne diseases are especially rife, scientists usually monitor the insects by setting traps, in just a few houses within a given village.

Teams of experienced technicians then laboriously sift through the insects, identifying them under a microscope. The resulting data is valuable and hard-won, but also patchy and limited.

There’s a huge and growing need to develop easy-to-use and low-cost strategies for doing mosquito surveillance on a mass scale,” says Heather Ferguson from the University of Glasgow, who thinks that Mukundarajan may have found one.

It an extremely innovative solution.

Globally, there are 5.2 billion cellphone users, and the market is growing with particular vigor in Africa, Asia and Latin America—the parts of the world that suffer most from the bites of mosquitoes.

And Mukundarajan says that even “really old flip-phone that one of us used in high school” could accurately record the insects in the lab.

That really convinced us that mobile phone-based surveillance could become a truly global tracking solution.

Mukundarajan took her dated flip-phone to mosquito hatcheries at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and recorded the noises of captive mosquitoes from 19 disease-carrying species.

In most cases, she could identify them by sound alone.

In a few cases where two species sound similar, time and place would provide the vital clue; for example, the malaria-carrying Anopheles gambiae overlaps in pitch with the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti, but the former bites at night, while the latter is a day-biter.

Only a few pairs of species were potentially indistinguishable; even very similar ones like Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus were easy enough to tell apart.

The phones don’t work at a distance. You need to get one within 5 centimeters of a mosquito to record it successfully.

That might seem unfeasible, but you don’t need to chase a zigzagging insect through the air. “You spot a mosquito, wait for it to sit down, and bring the phone close to it,” says Prakash.

That single buzz when it flies off is all we need.”

The team did this successfully in the field. Even though a mosquito’s pitch changes with its age, size, and health, these variations are no bigger than the frequency range of a single individual’s flight. So could others.

She and Prakash recruited an army of volunteers to test their technique. At the Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California, a team of 13 hikers used their personal phones to record around 125 mosquitoes in just 3 hours.

The team repeated their efforts in a busy market street within Madagascar’s Ranomafana village. “These were naive volunteers,” says Prakash.

I gave them half-an-hour of training and left them on their own. Which is the point: Anyone should be able to do this.

The team have uploaded a paper describing their work to the bioRxiv server, and submitted it for peer review elsewhere.

In the meantime, Ferguson notes that the technique isn’t quite ready for primetime yet. The team needs to show that they can tell the difference between many mosquitoes flying at the same time, against a range of background conditions.

Sinka also notes that some phones aren’t suitable for recording mosquitoes, because their software removes a portion of the key tones.

But at the end of the day, accurate mosquito surveillance is essential,” she says. “If these guys can set up a successful citizen science project to get us closer to this goal, it can only be a good thing.”

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Pass it on: Popular Science