All Articles Tagged "smartphones"

Dino Tales: A Learning App Kids And Parents Play Together

August 28th, 2015 - By Allyson Leak
Share to Twitter Email This
Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Nowadays kids know how to use apps better than some parents. Becoming accustomed to technology early can be a great thing if done in a balanced way because that is the direction that the world is flowing. And, if they are using educational fun apps, it’s even better. We took some time out to chat with the team from Kuato Studios who are the creators of Dino Tales and Safari Tales to find out the inspiration behind the learning app.

Mommynoire: Tell us a little about the app and how it works?

KUATO: In creating Dino Tales and Safari Tales, we set out to design games that would bring a new and engaging experience to reading. The child begins by naming and giving a gender to (in Dino Tales) a baby dinosaur, and (in Safari Tales) a baby elephant. As they enter the world of the each game, children are given a fun challenge to complete, such as reaching the top of the volcano or taking a trip down a river rapid. As they set off, they explore worlds that are rich in facts and fictions, and full of interesting activities; finding fossils, searching for colorful berries, making new friends…

Sounds like a lot of information for kids to handle…

Because children love asking questions, we decided to incorporate a learning buddy called Darwin in each game – a pterosaur in Dino Tales, and a meerkat in Safari Tales. When Darwin appears, children can use playful word wheels to form questions which Darwin answers in the cheery voice of a child. These word wheels are as much about word association and vocabulary enrichment as they are about interesting facts and Darwin’s often funny responses.

At the end of each play session, the length of which can be set by the parent in Parent Corner, the game generates a colorful storybook which is a record of that ‘day’s’ adventures.

Can these experiences be shared?

KUATO: The storybooks are designed to be shared with parents and loved ones, and encourage children to alter the descriptive captions that accompany the pictures. By playing with the adjectives, adverbs and verbs, children make their own language choices. In this way, we are encouraging young readers to see language as something playful, something they can create and change.

We want the child to be so excited by the game that they share and discuss the storybooks with family and friends; that they talk about the questions they posed to Darwin (and his answers); that they are motivated to read and research further.

What are some of the key features?

KUATO: For parents, there’s Parent Corner a secure environment controlled by a pin code, where parents can adjust the length of time children can play the game, set a reading age appropriate to the child, and receive email notifications when their child has created a new Tale.

There is also an option in Parent Corner to toggle the lock on/off, so that your child isn’t locked out the game. In Dino Tales, there are six baby dinosaurs to find and play with, and in Safari Tales, there are six baby safari animals.

As mentioned, Darwin is always on hand to answer pressing questions – sometimes factual, sometimes whimsical, always interesting. Fun features like the Berry Blaster allow children to go a bit wild in creating ‘looks’ for their dinosaurs and safari animals.

Most games are for kids only, but incorporating parents to create a personalized story is next level. What did you find in the research as far as coming up with this idea?

KUATO: Discovering the joy and value of reading is, or should be, an integral aspect of childhood, as oftentimes we see parents reading bedtime stories to their children to not only educate them, but also to foster bonding.

In many games, even educational games, there is little or no parental interaction – the tablet is simply used as an entertainment device with minimal parental or guardian involvement. The ability for parents to be alerted to the completion of a play session and then to sit down and read through the ‘tale’ / storybook together is a perfect way to reconnect and discuss what the child has achieved and learned. In this way, reports such as Family Time with Apps from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center speaks exactly to what Kuato aims to achieve with its games.

The games are also proving popular with schools too. Michelle Baldwin, an elementary school teacher in Boulder worked with her class to create a blog of their experience. “As a teacher, I loved that my students could customize their experience, including a setting for reading age.”

When Michelle asked her pupils what they enjoyed most about Dino Tales, the children responded:

“I like that I can ask Darwin questions.”
“I love finding new eggs and new dinosaur friends!”
“I like the stories we can make with our own dinosaurs.”

Do you have plans for more apps in the future?

KUATO: We do have some exciting collaborations and ideas in the works, but nothing we’re able to share just yet. Stay tuned! We hope that parents use these games as a way to connect with their children as they learn. As our world becomes more digitally focused and children become more tech-centric it’s a wonderful opportunity for parents to get involved in their kid’s learning development from a young age, in a whole new way.

Tech Specs: Flipagram Fun For Families

July 22nd, 2015 - By Kweli Wright
Share to Twitter Email This

The Internet has given people the opportunity to do a myriad of things. Aside from being an endless source of information, people can communicate using a variety of apps and networks. Social Media is a key component to keeping people informed and connected. Moms are beginning to use social media networks a little more. They like sharing family pictures and happenings as they occur. Imagine being able to share stories, events, and announcements with family and friends with the click of a button. Flipagram allows users to create awesome photo visuals with great sound clips to match.

Flipagram is one of the top social media photo-sharing sites to date. People are creating their stories and accomplishments and setting the presentation to the tunes that best suit their visual. This is a great tool for families who are ready and willing to get their tech on. Flipagram posts can be shared across a variety of networks, saved as a file, and even emailed to others to be seen. This is a great way to keep everyone in the loop, especially family members who are many miles away.

Viewers can integrate video and voice recordings into one Flipagram post. The speed of the post can be adjusted so that people will have enough time to see everything. If viewers missed something or want to see a specific visual, the app allows them to go back and scroll through the presentation flick by flick. This app is easy to use so people of all ages can get involved.

flipagram

Celebrities are taking to Flipagram to show off some of their best family moments as well. “Extra” host Mario Lopez showed off his family with this Father’s Day Flipagram http://flipagram.com/MarioLopezExtra  

We played with the app for quite some time and came up with a few cool ways for mom’s to use Flipagram. These are definitely fun and creative ways to do things different and outside the box.

Birth Announcements: Flipagram is perfect for putting together a collage of pictures to announce the birth of a new baby. While selecting one picture is always tough, you can use as many as you like with a Flipagram announcement. The presentation can be set to a lullaby or your favorite tune of choice.

flipagram1

Party Invites: Flipagram is a fun and creative way to make invitations for any kind of gathering. Weddings, birthday parties, BBQ’s, and even family reunion invites can be created with the Flipagram app.

Event Recaps: Parents are always taking pictures of their kids. Dance recitals, athletic games, family vacations, and graduations are just a few of the events that seem to get a lot of camera action. Flipagram makes it easy for families to share their child’s special moment. Instead of randomly uploading pics, create the story of the event on Flipagram and share!

Recipes: Sharing recipes on Flipagram is a great way to show other moms some of the cooking tricks that work for them in the kitchen. Whether it’s how to trick kids into eating veggies or food prep methods the week, Flipagram is a great way to share ideas.

Milestones: Most moms go crazy with the milestone pictures. Take those month to month pics and Flip them to tell the story of the whole year! Folks won’t have to click picture to picture. They simply press play and see the entire montage of pics.
Inspirational: Inspire someone with your journey through motherhood via Flipagram. Being a mom is not an easy job. Sharing your story and experiences with other Flipagram users can help motivate someone else who may be having a difficult time.

Take a few minutes and visit Flipagram.com to download the version that works best for you.

Kids Younger Than A Year Old Are Already Using Smartphones & Tablets

April 28th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
Share to Twitter Email This
kids smartphones

Shutterstock

Are kids getting more and more precocious each generation? It seems so. According to a new study, more than a third of kids under one year old are already using smartphones and tablets.

But moms and dads, stop handing your smartphones to your kids! Experts say this can damage your child’s  development. Skip those learning apps for kids.”The British government warned in 2013 that too much on-screen time causes emotional problems for kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of screen devices among children under age 2,” reports The Washington Post.
But despite these warnings, the new survey by pediatric researchers at the Einstein Healthcare Network found that kids as young as six months old are playing around with smartphones and tablets. And the majority of the kids are minority and low-income. The study polled 370 parents of children ages six months to four years old as they visited a pediatric clinic for a low-income, minority community in Philadelphia. Of the respondents, 74 percent were African American and 14 percent were Hispanic.

The study found that among kids younger than one, 52 percent watched television on mobile devices, 36 percent were allowed by parents to scroll the screen, 15 percent actually used apps while 12 percent played video games. And almost a quarter of the kids under a year old had already called someone using a smartphone.

A majority of two year olds were using cellphones or tablets, according to the summary.

“We didn’t expect children were using the devices from the age of 6 months,” said Hilda Kabali, a third-year resident at Einstein who led the survey. “Some children were on the screen for as long as 30 minutes.”

These numbers are up from a 2013, Internet survey of 1,463 parents that found among kids under 2, 38 percent had used smartphones or tablets.

Experts are totally against this trend, and say parents should encourage their kids having personal interaction and put down the digital devices. “In addition to persuading parents to waste money on useless products, marketing products for babies as teaching numbers and letters sends a troubling and potentially harmful message to parents about learning and how babies should spend their time,” said Susan Linn, director for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, last year.

Thoughts?

Motorola Droid Turbo Is A Little Bigger, But Is It Better?

January 5th, 2015 - By Janel Martinez
Share to Twitter Email This

motorola turboA year ago, I wouldn’t give an Android phone the time of day. But things have changed. I currently have a Samsung Galaxy S5, and giving Android devices more of a chance. Why not, right?

Google’s operating system (Android) is in first place in the U.S. with a 51.5 percent market share, according to research firm ComScore, and releases such as the Google Nexus 6, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Sony Xperia Z3 and the Motorola Droid Turbo are proof that Androids are here to stay.

Available for Verizon customers, the Droid Turbo boasts amazing battery life, crisp display and a powerful processor. While some may disapprove of the look and feel (it’s bulkier), it packs a 21-megapixel camera with 4K video recording and a 2.1 megapixel rear camera, a 5.2-inch Quad HD display and 3,900 mAh battery that runs for up to 48 hours. An added feature, Motorola’s Turbo Charger, powers the device for up to eight hours after only a 15-minute charge. That’s a 60 percent charge in 15 minutes.

The device has a Kevlar back, which prevents the Droid Turbo from bending; it’s water-resistant and can withstand spills and up to 20 minutes in a downpour. Its Corning Gorilla Glass 3 is scratch-resistant, so you can throw your phone in your bag and not worry about scratches. If your screen is damaged within your two-year contract, you can replace it once for free. This also applies to customers who purchase the phone through Verizon Edge.

It’s very simple to wake up your phone. When you reach for your device, the display awakens to show you the time and notifications. You can also wave your hand over the screen to dismiss a phone call or silence an alarm.

The Droid Turbo by Motorola is available online and in Verizon Wireless stores. The 32GB model is available in Metallic Black, Metallic Red, and Black Ballistic Nylon for $199.99 (with a new two-year activation, or $25 per month on Verizon Edge). The 64GB Black Ballistic Nylon model will also be available for $249.99 (with a new two-year activation, or $27 per month on Verizon Edge).

Are you an Android or iOS user? Would you try the Motorola Droid Turbo?

Images via Motorola

“I’m Sorry, What Did You Say?” 9 Signs You’re Addicted To Your Cell Phone

September 15th, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
Share to Twitter Email This
taxes

Shutterstock

Can you put your phone down for a minute to read this?

Cell phone addiction is real. You promise to put down your smartphone — but not until you’ve checked your Facebook news feed and emails. While we might shrug off these accusations, cell phones are changing the way we do business. Don’t let it be your downfall. Here are some signs you’re addicted to your phone.

The Lowdown On Samsung’s Two New Phones, Galaxy Note Edge & Galaxy Note 4

September 5th, 2014 - By Janel Martinez
Share to Twitter Email This


The iPhone 6 is not the only new smartphone debuting this month. Samsung unveiled a suite of products during simultaneous events in Berlin, Beijing and New York on Wednesday. Of the cool gadgets the tech giant presented, there were two new Galaxy Notes: the Galaxy Note Edge and the Galaxy Note 4.

Samsung is hoping the Galaxy Note 4 will build on the success of its Galaxy Note 3, which launched last fall and hit 10 million units sold in two months of its launch. The Note Edge’s unique curved Edge screen provides easy access to frequently used apps, alerts and device functionality (even when the cover is closed) all with the swipe of a thumb. And if you’re watching videos, your notifications will appear right on the screen—no more disturbances.

“The Galaxy Note series signaled extraordinary innovation within the technology industry. Its larger screen size and iconic S Pen technology launched a new standard in smartphone culture,” said JK Shin, CEO and Head of IT & Mobile Communication at Samsung Electronics. “With the introduction of the Galaxy Note series, we brought the age-old culture of the pen and notepad into the digital world. The new Galaxy Note 4 introduces the most refined Note experience to-date by combining all the latest technology that users expect from the Galaxy series.”

Here, MadameNoire will walk you through the features of the oversized, Android-powered Galaxy Note models.

Note 4

Size/Display: Approximately 5.7 inch Quad HD, 518 ppi (2,560-by-1, 440) Super AMOLED display. It’s the same as the Note 3, and reproduces clearer, more vivid images with deep contrast better viewing angles and response times as fast as a millionth of a second.

Audio: Comes equipped with multiple microphones and an improved speakerphone for better noise cancellation when speaking in noisy environments. Its built-in Voice Recorder offers eight different directional voice tagging and a selective playback capability that allows users to isolate and listen to specific voices in a group conversation.

Camera: 16-megapixel rear-facing camera featuring a Smart Optical Image Stabilizer that counter-balances camera shake and automatically extends exposure time in dark settings. Also, a 3.7 megapixel front-facing camera with f1.9 offers a default 90 degree shooting angle and up to 120 degree wide angle. Think: Perfect for usies with friends!

Memory: 32 GB Internal memory + micro SD slot (up to 64GB); 3GB RAM

Processor: 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor

Color: Available in October, Charcoal Black, Frost White, Bronze Gold and Blossom Pink.

Battery: According to Samsung, the Note 4 will charge up to 50% in 30 minutes.

Operating system (OS): Android 4.4 (KitKat)

S-Pen: More responsive and versatile (reports PC Mag)

The Note Edge is very similar to the Note 4, but has a new form factor.

Note Edge

Size/Display: 5.6 inch Quad HD (141.9mm), 2,560-by-1, 440 + 160 Super AMOLED display. The 160 rows of extra pixels are used for the side display. It’s all about the edge screen, which allows users to display information and notifications along the strip along the edge of its thin screen. It’s 3.8mm wider and 2.2mm shorter than the Note 4.

Camera: Rear Facing: 16-mega pixel Auto Focus camera with Smart OIS.  Front Facing: 3.7 Mega pixel camera with f1.9

Memory: 32/ 64 GB Internal memory + microSD slot (up to 64GB); 3GB RAM

Processor: 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor

Color: Available later this year, Charcoal Black and Frost White.

Battery: Comes with a smaller 3,000mAh battery.

Operating system (OS): Android 4.4 (KitKat)

The Galaxy 4 will be out next month. However, the Galaxy Note Edge has no release date as of yet.

Which phone would you purchase: the new school Galaxy Edge, or upgraded Note 3, better known as the Note 4? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Circle Sept. 9! Apple Rumored To Announce iPhone 6 Next Month

August 6th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
Share to Twitter Email This
Twin Design / Shutterstock.com

Twin Design / Shutterstock.com

iPhone lovers mark your calendars. Tech blog Re/Code reports Apple will officially debut its latest smartphone, the iPhone 6, on next month September 9th. If Apple does make the announcement on that day, the phones will hit the market 10 days later, on September 19.

The phone is expected to be larger than any iPhone before it, featuring a 4.7-inch screen. “Apple has also been said to be working on a 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6, but recent reports have said Apple may not announce that version until later this year or possibly in early 2015,” reports The Los Angeles Times. Japan’s Famitsu newspaper reported the iPhone 6 screen would be “significantly” higher in resolution. The resolution for the iPhone 5S is 1136 x 640.

The larger-screen iPhone is expected to help Apple compete with smartphones by Samsung and HTC that have screens larger than the 4-inch iPhone 5s. However, it might be tough to match the sales of the iPhone 5. During its first weekend, the sales figures for the iPhone 5s and 5c totaled nine million, making it Apple’s biggest launch, reports 9 To 5 Mac.

Additionally, the iPhone 6 is rumored to be thinner and will feature an all-new metallic design.

“One of the most persistent rumors has been that iPhone 6 will be covered in near-indestructible sapphire glass. Several online videos purported to show users bending, stabbing, scratching and hitting these displays to prove their worth. However while sapphire will still be used for the camera lens and home button, analysts recently said there had not been enough sapphire glass in the manufacturing supply chain to indicate the phone will be covered in it,” reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Of course, Apple is staying mum on the details for now.

Open Sesame! President Signs Act Making Unlocking Cellphones Legal

July 29th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
Share to Twitter Email This

 

UPDATE: As expected President Obama signed into law the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. It is now makes it legal for consumers to unlock their cellphones. This means your can now use your smartphone with any cellular network, not just the one you were under contract with when you first purchased the phone.

An added perk of the act: Consumers are also permitted to sell or buy used unlocked phones,.

There is one catch. “Consumers will still be restricted by the terms of the service contracts they sign with their carriers. For many, this means they will not be able to unlock their devices until two years after they were purchased, but it varies by device and carrier,” reports The Los Angeles Times .

Cellphone unlocking became illegal in 2012 when the Library of Congress elected not to renew an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The way the act, which bans copyright infringement, is worded it makes cellphone unlocking illegal. But from 2006 through 2012, the Library of Congress had made an exemption to the act that allowed consumers to unlock their cellphones.

The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act counteracts the Library of Congress’s 2012 decision. But it may only be temporary as the Library of Congress reviews exemptions to the DMCA every three years. The next review is in 2015.

Also the just-signed act does not legalize the unlocking of tablets or any other devices, only cellphones.

Originally reported on July 29, 2014: One thing that bugs cell phone users is that many providers “lock” smartphones to their networks, giving consumers limited options for service. But now a cell phone unlocking bill has finally cleared the U.S. House and is headed to Obama to say yea or nay.

Most insiders say the President will approve the legislation, which will give mobile phone users the right to “unlock” their phones and use them on competitors’ wireless networks. Currently, it is illegal to do so — though many look for ways to get phones unlocked.

“The bill Congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget,” Obama has said.

According to a 2012 ruling by the Library of Congress, which oversees U.S. copyright law, phone unlocking is illegal, even after the consumer is no longer under contract with the wireless carrier they bought the phone from. You can actually go to jail for doing unlocking your phone. But in December, some carriers such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc made a voluntary deal with the Federal Communications Commission to make it easier for consumers to unlock their phones following the expiration of their contracts.

The proposed legislation “reinstates the exemption given to mobile phones in the copyright law before the controversial 2012 ruling by the Library of Congress and calls on the officials there to reconsider the issue during its next round of reviews in 2015, potentially expanding the exemption to tablets and other devices,” reports The Chicago Tribune.

“Today’s action by the House moves us closer to alleviating any confusion stemming from the Copyright Office’s 2012 decision,” Jot Carpenter, vice president of government affairs at the wireless association CTIA, said in a statement.

The People’s Smartphone? Motorola Introduces The No-Contract, $129 Moto E

May 15th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
Share to Twitter Email This

moto EFirst-time smartphone users are going to like this. Motorola has introduced an affordable phone for just $129 — sans a service contract — called the Moto E.

Compare this to the 16-gigabyte iPhone 5s with no contract, which will run you $649. And the average price of a smartphone is $337.

“Now we want to radically transform the mobile industry once again by making quality smartphones that can do great things available to practically everyone,” Motorola said in a blog post.  Moto E should appeal to the 70 percent of cell phone users who still own feature phones that connect to the Web but cannot run mobile apps.

“We believe it’s time the feature phone era came to an end and that quality smartphones are made accessible and affordable for all,” Motorola said.

The Moto E has a 4.3-inch screen that features 540×960 pixel resolution with 256 pixel-per-inch density. And it runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, the latest version of Google’s mobile software, and has a 5-megapixel rear camera. On the downside, it only has 4 GB of storage. Users can however expand its capacity through its microSD slot. It also cannot connect to high-speed 4G LTE networks. Moto E is limited to 3G networks and lower. “The device uses a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, and Motorola said it has a battery that can last throughout the day for the average user,” reports The Los Angeles Times.

Moto E can be pre-ordered online for  delivery in early June.

Motorola is also offering a new version of the Moto G, a low-cost device debuted recently for $179 with no contract. A new $219 version can connect to 4G LTE networks. According to Motorola, the Moto G was its bestselling phone ever. So look for the cheaper Moto E to be flying off the shelves.

It’s already sold out on Indian e-commerce retailer Flipkart

Everything Will be Alright: BlackBerry Pens Open Letter Reassuring Customers

October 17th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
Share to Twitter Email This

Don’t worry, says BlackBerry. The struggling Canadian company has written an open letter to customers saying it will not go out of business, reports The Los Angeles Times.

BlackBerry published an open letter as part of an all-out media campaign designed to ease nervous customers’ worries that the company will go under.

“These are no doubt challenging times for us and we don’t underestimate the situation or ignore the challenges,” the company wrote in the letter, which it posted on its website Monday. “We are making the difficult changes necessary to strengthen BlackBerry.”

The letter was also published in 30 newspapers around the world. In it,  BlackBerry says users have “no doubt seen the headlines” about the company. “And speaking of those dramatic headlines, it’s important that we set the record straight on a few things,” it said.

Customers have reason to wonder about the state of the company. There was recent news that BlackBerry had struck a tentative deal to be bought by a Canadian insurance company for $4.7 billion. “That led to a separate filing by BlackBerry’s co-founders, Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin, that said the duo might finance their own takeover,” reports The Times.

And last month BlackBerry disclosed it planned to lay off about 4,500 employees, or about 40 percent of its workforce. It has been reeling over the loss of nearly $1 billion in its most recent quarter.

On top of this, Apple reportedly has been recruiting BlackBerry’s employees.

“Despite all that bad news, BlackBerry said in its letter that it has substantial cash on hand and a balance sheet that is debt free. It plans to restructure, with a goal to cut expenses 50%,” reports The Times. (Bit of a sidebar: See how important it is to be debt free! When the going gets tough, having no debt will keep you going.)

BlackBerry added that customers “can continue to trust us to keep your communication safe and private” and noted that it recognized iOS and Android devices have become more popular in the workplace. The company announced it was working on a solution to help businesses manage all the different platforms “seamlessly and securely.”

But the company knows it can’t please everybody.

“Yes, there is a lot of competition out there and we know that BlackBerry is not for everyone,” the letter said. “That’s OK.”