All Articles Tagged "Smartphone"

Go ‘Head & Play ‘Candy Crush’ At Work! Study Says Smartphone Usage Increases Productivity

July 9th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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If your boss catches you red-handed scrolling through Instagram, and she gives you can earful, you can actually tell her that you’re being a productive employee. Science says so!  Researchers find that dipping out of work for a short smartphone break actually boosts company morale, Daily Mail reports.

Swamped with paperwork in the office, it’s likely that your sweet tooth is begging you for a break — it’s time to play some Candy Crush Saga. But you needn’t feel guilty about “wasting” company time. According to Sooyoel Kim, a Kansas State University doctoral student, a little smartphone downtime is actually both beneficial to the company and the employees:

“By interacting with friend or family member through a smartphone, or by playing a short game, we found that employees can recover from some of their stress to refresh their minds and take a break,” Kim said.

Researchers developed and installed an app onto the smartphones of 72 employed participants. The app measured how much time the user spent on his or her device. Then the participants were required to record how they felt at the end of their workday. The result? Smartphone microbreaks create “happier, more productive” employees.

Scrolling through your news feed on Facebook or liking a few Instagram photos, Kim says, is equivalent to taking a coffee break or shooting the breeze with a co-worker in the hallway.

“Such breaks are important because they can help employees cope with the demands on the workplace,” said Kim. “These days, people struggle with a lot of different types of stressors, such a work demands, time scheduling, family issues or personal life issues.”

On average, people spent 22 minutes a day on their smartphones during eight-hour shifts — that’s just 4.5 percent of the workday.

Now, do I think we should issue a national decree to implement smartphone breaks into the workday? Heck no. You give people a hand and they take the whole arm. Workers would start setting up their XBox 360 systems near their desks.

Hypothetically, if I were a boss lady, I’d still uphold the “no smartphone” rule — most workers don’t abide by it anyway, but at least they’re astute enough to be subtle about it.

If I do spot a worker tapping away at their phones, I’d turn a blind eye. After all, a few LOLs, #WorkSucks, and “I hate mondays” on social media never hurt nobody, right? But if he or she crosses the line and starts blogging an essay, I can still point to my “no smartphone” policy and keep ‘em in check.

What do you think? Should employers ditch the “no smartphone” rule?

Amazon Introduces Fire, A Smartphone With 3D Capabilities

June 18th, 2014 - By Rhonesha Byng
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Fire, the First Smartphone Designed by Amazon (Photo: Business Wire)

Fire, the First Smartphone Designed by Amazon (Photo: Business Wire)

Amazon is officially entering the smartphone business, adding to it’s growing list of devices including the Kindle Fire and Amazon Fire TV.

“Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand,” explained CEO Jeff Bezos in a release about the new smartphone.

Available exclusively on AT&T and optimized for videos, multimedia engagement, and integration with Amazon’s pre-existing apps and products, the Amazon phone has been rumored to be coming for the past three years. The hesitancy to enter the phone market is understandable as the only two companies currently profiting off the selling of phones are Apple and Samsung.

However, just like with the Kindle Fire, Amazon isn’t planning to judge the phone’s success based on sales alone. They’re targeting their fans and customers (like the 20 million Amazon Prime subscribers). New users even get a free year of Amazon Prime, while existing users get an extra year tacked on to their plan if they purchase the phone.

There are three features that make Amazon Fire unique. One is a feature called Firefly, which essentially works like an amped up Shazam that can recognize music, television shows, and even photos or posters. You can also scan business cards, get additional details about the show, the song, or whatever you choose and purchase an item. The phone can scan barcodes and create a shopping list. According to the CEO, Firefly will recognize up to 100 million items.

The other feature everyone is buzzing about is the phone’s 3D capabilities. Now if you’re like me, you’re probably thinking, huh? Does that mean I can send my hologram through the camera?! Well, no, but it still seems like a pretty cool feature. They’re calling it Dynamic Perspective, which allows you to control your phone using head gestures, or even just your eyes. Images will be presented with greater depth so you can view items in a way that’s more natural to you. You can even play a game and take on the character’s viewpoint and the phone will pick up on your head movements and adjust the screen’s view accordingly. Open the map, and you’ll see towers and buildings appear to leap off the screen.

This third unique feature being offered is something that iPhone users will be jealous of. The Amazon Fire phone has unlimited photo storage. Some other key specs for the phone include a 4.7-inch HD screen, a 2.2 GHz processor, 2GB RAM, a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera, and a dedicated button to launch the camera app. It retails at $199 for a 32GB version with a two-year contract or $299 for the 64GB version.

It’s currently available for pre-order and ships July 25th. The Amazon Fire phone will be $199 with a two-year contract through AT&T.

So what do you think of Amazon’s new phone? Does it sound like something you would bother trying?  

Rhonesha Byng is the founder of Her Agenda, “an information and inspiration hub for millennial women.” You can follow her on twitter @NeshasAgenda.

Which Smartphone Is Best Suited To Your Needs?

April 3rd, 2014 - By Janel Martinez
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hand zen htc oneThese days, the average smartphone can do it all. It is a photo-taker, portable search-engine, organizer, newsmaker/slash social-media updater, an actual device for making phone calls (which we sometimes forget), and perform even more valuable functions. Many people rely heavily on their smartphones for day-to-day tasks; and, for many, these portable devices are the only means of connection to the Internet.

While Internet use is virtually universal among younger, college-educated adults and those with high incomes regardless of race, the gap is far greater when age and race are factored in, according to the Pew Research Internet Project. Figures show smartphone usage is nearly equal among Blacks and whites — 56 percent of African Americans and 53 percent of whites are smartphone users. Furthermore, African Americans have high rates of social networking site usage, over-indexing on Twitter. When it comes to younger African Americans, some 40 percent of African-American Internet users, ages 18-to-29, report they use Twitter, as opposed to 28 percent of whites of the same age.

With smartphones serving as the entry way to the world of digital for communities of color, MadameNoire takes a look at which handsets are best for some of our daily needs:

Health: Samsung Galaxy S5

Health tech has taken off, allowing users to monitor their caloric intake, sleeping patterns and activity levels. The Samsung Galaxy S5 takes it to another level. Users can select the heart-rate monitor icon from within Samsung’s S Health 3.0 application, which comes pre-loaded in the Galaxy S5, and place their index finger on the center of the flash module to the right of the flash. Holding your finger in place for a couple of seconds, you’ll receive your heart-rate info, which can be used to plot exercise and training regimens (viewing it in hours, days or months). Technically, you can use the iPhone 5S in the same manner if you download an appropriate app.

We can do without the plastic exterior, but you can’t beat the 5.1-inch display or amazing 16-MP rear camera either, or that it’s water resistant. The device goes on sale on April 11.

Stay Up to Date: HTC One (M8)

We love to stay connected and the newly released HTC One (M8) will satisfy your there’s-an-app-for-that needs. It’s Blinkfeed newsfeed app, which allows you to display your favorite content (thanks in part to HTC’s top-tier content partners like The Associated Press, MTV, and ESPN) and social updates  on your home screen.

It comes with more storage (ahem, the 2,600 mAh and Snapdragon 801 processor), so you can store more information on your device. Whether it’s pictures from the family reunion or business files, you’ll have them at your fingertips.

For more on the HTC One (M8), click here for our review.

Greater Photos: Nokia Lumia 1020

There so much talk of the iPhone 5S or the latest Galaxy devices that other brands get squashed. But don’t sleep on this Windows Phone, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is equipped with a great camera phone, boasting strong manual controls, a selection of photo Lens apps and a 21-MP sensor. Yes, you’ll get sharper photos and greater creative control. AT&T dropped the price of the Lumia 1020 from $299 to $199 on contract.

Cool Videos: iPhone 5S

It’s not a never-before-seen feature (you can definitely capture these on the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S5 or phones with the SloPro app), but we’ll give it to them for now because there’s been some great videos captures with the device. Take a look for yourself.

Which is your favorite smartphone? We want to know how you use it and why it’s better than the rest?

Based in New York City, Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist who covers technology and entrepreneurship. She is the founder of “Ain’t I Latina?” an online destination geared toward Afro-Latinas. You can follow her up-to-the-minute musings on Twitter @janelmwrites.

Mozilla Firefox OS Smartphones Sell Out Shortly After Going On Sale (To Developers)

April 25th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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The Mozilla Firefox OS smartphones are a hit — with industry insiders. You know Mozilla for its Firefox Web browser, but now the nonprofit organization has entered the smartphone business. Just Tuesday, Mozilla debuted to developers two smartphones running its Firefox OS mobile operating system and it sold out in just a few hours. You can learn more about it in the video here.

Firefox OS is a new platform which will launch this year in Latin America and Europe. “The operating system is based on HTML5 and is intended to give users an alternative to ‘vendor-controlled ecosystems,'” Mozilla said in a blog.

Mozilla partnered with Spanish start-up Geeksphone to build and sell two smartphone devices, called, the Keon and the Peak. The two went on sale Tuesday but sold out almost immediately, reports The Los Angeles Times.

“In the first few hours of the Geeksphone store opening, demand has been overwhelming, surpassing initial expectations causing our store to be taken temporarily offline,” a Geeksphone spokesperson said in a statement.

The Keon is an orange smartphone with a 3.5-inch screen that runs on a Qualcomm 1-GHz processor and has similar specifications to what actual Firefox OS phones will have when they officially launch. It costs 91 Euros, or about $118. The more high-end  Peak costs 149 Euros, or about $194, and  features a 4.3-inch screen and runs on a Qualcomm dual-core 1.2-GHz processor. It also comes in white for those who aren’t thinking about Halloween all year round.

Sound enticing?

AT&T Will Have The Galaxy S 4 On April 30, T-Mobile And Sprint, A Few Days Sooner

April 17th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

This Android phone is finally coming to the States.

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, U.S. Cellular, Cricket, and C Spire have announced that they will have the Samsung Galaxy S 4 this month. AT&T is already taking pre-orders, according to Mashable, with a ship date scheduled for April 30.

Sprint and T-Mobile will be offering the phone for $150 and will have the phone a little bit earlier, the 27th and the 24th, respectively. Best Buy, Costco, Radio Shack, and other retailers will have the phone soon as well.

Mashable calls it “one of the most powerful smartphones around.” I’m actually in the market for a new phone (replacing a BlackBerry), so this is something to consider. Any advice or suggestions out there?

 

The Facebook Phone Is A Hit: Upcoming HTC One Pulls In Great Reviews

April 11th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Mark Zuckerberg introducing Facebook Home last week. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Mark Zuckerberg introducing Facebook Home last week. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

It’s not even on the market yet but the so-called Facebook phone, or HTC One is already a hit. An Android phone, Mashable calls it a “winner.”

“HTC has focused on a few standout features — including an interactive home screen, a retooled camera and a novel way to share experiences — to turn the One into a device that, well, stands out. None of those features is perfect, but at least the company is really trying to differentiate and not just “skin” things,” writes Mashable.

According to the site the phone has a great design some desirable features, including its high’end design.

“The screen is a beautiful LCD with full HD resolution, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. That puts its pixel density way north of ‘retina’ at 468 pixels per inch (ppi) — not that it makes much difference to your eyes. The screen makes photos and videos look amazing, although I wouldn’t expect anything less from a phone that calls itself a flagship,” reviews Mashable.

With the One, HTC is introducing a new feature called Zoe. After you take photos or a few videos of any event, the phone automatically creates a short video compilation of them, sort of a slideshow. HTC is launching the HTC One on April 19. As we recently reported, the HTC One along with other new smartphone models is currently taking pre-sales orders.

The HTC First, which comes equipped with Facebook Home, will be available tomorrow. According to The LA Times, Facebook Home is an interface for some smartphones running the Android operating system. Instead of a main home screen, the phone has a “Cover Feed,” which displays the latest Facebook status updates and photos uploaded by users’ friends. Another plus for Facebook lovers, Facebook Home also comes with “Chat Heads,” a feature that lets users chat with friends while using another app.

Another attractive feature of the HTC First is the cost; it’s half the price of most flagship smartphones. The Times says the lower price is because it doesn’t have the best hardware specs. For example, its camera takes lower resolution pictures than other smartphones. But for those addicted to Facebook, the appeal will be the quick link to all of the information and apps on that social network.

Are you planning on buying one of these phones?

Facebook Home Revealed, HTC First Phone To Operate With The Social Network At Its Heart

April 4th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at today's press event in Menlo Park, CA. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at today’s press event in Menlo Park, CA. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

So the rumors were true!

At a press event today, Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Home for Android devices. Says Mashable:

Similar to how the HTC One has a live Flipboard-like interface for its home screen, Facebook Home will put updates from the social network right on the home screen via a feature called Cover Feed. Content from Facebook takes up the entire screen, with no navigation or “chrome” whatsoever. Apps are still there, accessed through a launcher that is accessible by swiping up.

There’s also a Chat Heads feature that will help you “manage your conversations with friends” via Facebook Messenger. Here’s video of Zuck talking it up at today’s event.

Android owners with the latest Facebook app will get a message to update to Home, which will be available April 12.

And, as promised, there is a Facebook phone in the form of the HTC First, which is basically a phone with Facebook Home pre-loaded. It will be available at AT&T on that same date for $99.99 with a two-year contract. Less a Facebook phone, it’s more like a device that revolves around the Facebook app. ABC News reports: 

The new product, which resides on the home screen of Android phones, is a family of apps designed to help people share things with their Facebook friends. Rather than seeing a set of apps for email, maps and other services when they first turn on their phones, users will be greeted with photos and updates from their Facebook feeds. There will be ads too, eventually.

The big picture is that Facebook is trying to capitalize on the mobile moves that users are making. Stats show that an increasing number of people are accessing Facebook on their smartphones and tablets. So creating a device that has Facebook at its heart is basically drawing more users who will spend more time on the social network. Moreover, the advertising revenue possibilities are huge. The LA Times says Facebook has already made $305 million in mobile ads for the last three months of 2012, a quarter of total ad revenue.

“EMarketer Inc.’s forecast calls for Facebook to bring in $965 million in U.S. mobile ad revenue in 2013,” the paper reports.

So, will you be downloading the new app, or buying the HTC First?

Rumor Has It That The Facebook Phone Is Coming Tomorrow

April 3rd, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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via @evleaks

via @evleaks

There’s a big Facebook event happening tomorrow, and rumor has it that Facebook will announce a new mobile phone. Produced with HTC, it’s expected to be called the HTC First and sport the new Android software, Facebook Home. ABC News has more of the specs for those interested in more nitty gritty guessing.

9to5Google is already giving the imaginary phone a thumbs up.

“From the imagery we’ve seen, Facebook Home incorporates a minimal aesthetic with a lot of focus on full-screen photography. As expected, there are hooks to the primary Facebook functions available from most menus, obviating the need to actually navigate to the dedicated app or site in many instances. It looks clean, well thought out, and will probably appeal to social networking aficionados with an appreciation for design—assuming the marketing campaign can convey the added value.”

Of course, it boils down to who’s going to buy this thing. Ad Age, pointing out that HTC only had six percent of the smartphone market during Q4 2012, says there’s going to have to be a lot of marketing involved, which means a lot o’ money to push this phone out. Plus, there’s no word on which carriers will have it yet.

Actually, there’s no word that it actually exists. Internet rumors! Seems almost certain though. More to come.

As Mobile Competition Heats Up, T-Mobile Goes Contract-Free

March 27th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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The mobile market has gotten tough, what with companies canceling contracts and deeply discounting their product. It has been hard for T-Mobile to compete. Now the company has quietly decided to stop offering contract plans and with it, it has ended phone subsidies. The result is a program where customers pay an upfront cost for their phone and continue to pay it off in monthly increments. Starting April 12, the company will offer the iPhone at $100 upfront and $20 per month for the next two years. Other devices, like the Samsung Galaxy phones, will be available at lower prices.

This move might help give the struggling company get a leg up, as it will become the first major U.S. carrier to drop smartphone subsidies. According to the L.A. Times, users will now be able to purchase phones at their full price, pay in installments or bring their own device and simply pay for the plan. Prior to this, with a contract plan, customers typically agree to sign up for two years of service in return for getting a phone at a lower cost than it would without the subsidy.

On the T-Mobile website, the company announced it will charge $50 a month for one line, $30 for a second line and $10 for additional lines after that. This includes unlimited talk, text and data with up to 500 megabytes of high-speed data. The newspaper reports that users can also pay $10 more a month for an additional two gigabytes of high-speed data. T-Mobile customers can increase this to 12 GB in increments of $10 for each additional two GB per line. Or pay $20 a month for unlimited high-speed data.

According to The New York Times, even with the contract-free program, many customers may feel that they’re stuck with a commitment because of the monthly phone-pay plan. Moreover, T-Mobile’s system is only now getting the updates it needs to compete on speed. The company’s CEO, who the Times describes as “eccentric,” John Legere spoke at a press conference yesterday where he talked up the value of being a T-Mobile customer (apparently, his remarks were laced with cuss words) But experts quoted in the story say that customers have a negative opinion of the company because of its slow speed and the fact that it took so long for the company to see the Apple devices.

Now the question is whether customers will go to T-Mobile and push it out of the fourth place position behind Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint. Any T-Mobile customers out there who care to weigh in?

Make That To Go! As Minorities Turn to Mobile, Marketers Face New Challenges

February 22nd, 2013 - By Kimberly Maul
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An audience member records the #Mobilecultural panel at Social Media Week New York. Photo: Kimberly Maul

“When we talk about digital, it’s increasingly mobile. Mobile is no longer an add-on,” said Monica Bannan, kicking off the Social Media Week panel, “#Mobilecultural: How To Reach the Emerging Social, Mobile, and Multicultural User,” on Thursday evening.

Bannen, VP of mobile media for Nielsen, presented new data from the company that showed higher smartphone penetration among multicultural consumers, with 68 percent of blacks owning a smartphone compared to 74 percent of Asians, 68 percent of Hispanics, and 55 percent of whites. Social media, she noted, dominated time spent on mobile devices, and blacks also spend 82 percent of their time on a smartphone in mobile apps, rather than on a mobile web browser.

After using the data to set the scene, moderator Cheryl Contee, partner and co-founder of Fission Strategy, opened the discussion to the panelists: Diana Valencia, SVP of multicultural communications at Porter Novelli; Adrian Carrasquillo, producer and social media strategist at NBC Latino; Marcus Ellington, director of ad sales at Interactive One; Manny Miravete, US Hispanic industry manager at Google; and Lateef Sarnor, head of multicultural marketing at AOL.

Hosted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the group hoped to help the audience understand the shifting landscape, Contee said, and learn about “strategies to use as businesses and organizations help take advantage of this changing landscape, engage more successfully with these audiences, and creating the best content for these audiences.”

“One-third of our audience is coming to our sites from smartphones,” said Interactive One’s Ellington. “It’s so important that every program we do has a mobile element tied into it.”

And Carrasquillo took that a step further, highlighting the important connection between mobile, social media, and video: “Multicultural users like social and mobile and video and digital, so my next question is, ‘How will we reach them and how will we speak to them?’”

Google’s Miravete spoke about how consumer packaged goods brands are doing a good job of connecting with mobile users, particularly in partnership with retail stores, bringing a local element into the equation.

“Brands should be thinking less about silo-ing their social media approach or even their mobile strategy,” said Sarnor. “You should think about which platforms make sense for your brand. Listening and understand your audience will help dictate that strategy. There is a huge opportunity for brands around mobile and reaching audiences.”

“We’ve found that multicultural consumers go first to social media to get information, mostly on fashion and technology,” Valencia said. “Additionally, they are more likely to talk about a brand, or a specific item or piece of clothing, than just referring to something generally.”

All of this mobile-specific outreach is important for connecting with all consumers, but especially multicultural consumers, based on the data from Nielsen and other research companies. Just this month, Pew released its Demographics of Social Media Users 2012 report, which found that 68 percent of African-American internet users are on social networks, a higher percentage than whites (65 percent), but less than Hispanics (72 percent).

Additionally, in November 2012, Pew reported that 60 percent of African-American cell phone owners use their phone to access the internet, compared to 52 percent of whites and 66 percent of Hispanics.

As these multicultural segments show a propensity to use their mobile phones more often and for social media-type activities, Carrasquillo noted that it’s not enough to have content at their fingertips—it has to be good content.

“They don’t want a second-rate experience just because it’s niche,” he said. “We’re trying to elevate the conversation.”

How have you seen marketers and brands use mobile outreach to connect with you? Do you embrace it or is it annoying?