Make Tech Easier » Mobile http://www.maketecheasier.com Uncomplicating the complicated, making life easier Thu, 07 Nov 2013 06:45:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.1 How Much Does Screen Size Matter on a Phone?http://www.maketecheasier.com/does-screen-size-matter-on-phone/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/does-screen-size-matter-on-phone/#comments Fri, 18 Oct 2013 14:50:28 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=82068 People now have the option to buy a smartphone that has a whopping 6.3-inch screen size. Have we gone too far, or are we seeing a new era of consumer choices?

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bigscreen-galaxy-noteWhen Samsung unleashed its mammoth Galaxy Note smartphone, the reception was mixed, to say the least. It brought forth one serious question: What constitutes as “too big” in the smartphone world? With Samsung’s Galaxy Mega, people now have the option to purchase a smartphone that has a whopping 6.3-inch screen (just barely able to fit in a decently-sized pocket). Have we gone too far, or are we seeing a new era of consumer choices? To properly answer these questions, we have to establish a few things and explore some others.

bigscreen-galaxymega

It would be very difficult to determine whether a large screen is really worth it, principally because it’s mostly a subjective opinion. Do you want a phone that closely resembles a tablet? Or would you like something that fits more comfortably on the palm of your hand? Is the iPhone 5s’ 4-inch screen sufficient?

One day, I walked into a phone shop to get myself a new SIM card. What I saw was a bunch of people using outlandishly large phones with 5 – 5.5-inch screens. I also saw a few others using phones with 4.5-inch screens like mine. If you have a glance at what phones people are using, you’ll soon realize that the consumer market is very diverse. This is generally a good thing. The question we really have to answer is, “Is everyone really happy with the phones they have?” This is nearly impossible, since it’s hard to gauge exactly how satisfied someone is with screen size. However, we can still look at the positive and negative sides of having either a medium 4-4.5-inch screen and a large 5-6-inch mammoth.

bigscreen-onehand

I have a confession to make: To me, anything above 4.5 inches really takes a toll. With my phone, I’m already having trouble operating it with one hand, and it’s not even 5 inches diagonally. However, anything less than 4.5 inches misses a sweet spot that harmonizes real estate with one-handed operability. The lowest I’d go is 4 inches, and perhaps the highest would be 4.7. Why? Let’s see the advantages of a medium-sized screen:

  • Everything is reachable with your thumb. In the upper end of the medium size spectrum, thumb operation might become difficult if you don’t have large hands. Overall, one-handed operation is possible.
  • The phone fits comfortably in the palm of your hand, extending up to the bottom-most section of each finger.
  • You’re less likely to drop a phone with this size of screen, since you can hold it relatively tightly in your hand.

But I must concede there are things that don’t play well with such sizes:

  • Gaming is slightly limited (think Angry Birds), since your gestures will surely be more sensitive on a smaller screen.
  • Typing vertically can be an exhausting process.
  • Having a smaller screen impedes your ability to read small text without having to pinch and zoom a billion times.

Added to that, large screens also give you otherworldly video recording and photography experiences. The larger screen will make you feel as if though you’re staring through a window at the subject you’re recording or snapping photos of. It’s really immersive.

Surely not! However, there are tons of great points that can be made about both smaller and larger screens. If you were to choose one, I’d say to prioritize what kind of user experience you want to get out of your screen.

What’s your choice? Do you like monolithic screens that bring you closer to having a tablet than a phone? Or do you like keeping your hardware lean for very quick one-handed use? Comment below with your answer!

Image credit: Samsung Galaxy Note

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Print From Your Mobile Device Anywhere with Breezyhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/print-from-mobile-device/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/print-from-mobile-device/#respond Thu, 17 Oct 2013 14:50:44 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81757 While Google's Cloud Print allows you to print remotely from mobile device, it is not perfect. Breezy is one of the best alternative remote print app that we have found.

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breezy-printer-iconPrinter technology has moved forward with  the times, going networked and then wireless. But now, more and more people are working from smartphones and tablets, which creates a dilemma when it comes to needing a physical copy of a document. Google attempts to solve this with Cloud Print, but despite having been around for a couple of years, it remains a beta and is less than intuitive for any users.

Other technologies exist that are much simpler and more efficient. Today we’ll be setting up Breezy, which is compatible with Windows, as well as iOS and Android.

Before you can go off and print from your Nexus 7 while in a hotel room, you will need to prepare everything at the home-end, where your printer resides. Head to the Breezy web site and download a little app called “Personal Connector”.

breezy-desktop-install

If you have already registered a Breezy account then go ahead and enter your email address and password when prompted to do so during the setup process. If you don’t yet have an accountm then you can create one right from the same prompt.

breezy-setup

You will now be presented with a list of available printers attached to the computer you are on, including those virtual ones supplied by apps like Office and Acrobat.

breezy-select-printers

With the setup behind us, we arrive at the rather simply and easy to understand desktop app interface. There are four self-explanatory options here.

breezy-desktop

“Account” allows you to change your password if you find it necessary; “Printers” lets you add, remove or change the printers you wish to have associated with your account; “Settings” contains three options governing how the app runs and “Help” speaks for itself.

Settings may be of mild interest here – it contain only three options, once of which is enabled by default. That lone one tells Breezy to start when the computer starts up – a necessity in case your computer is restarted while your out. The other two are “automatically minimize Breezy when it starts” and “do you want to use and HTTP proxy?”. Choose these if you see fit.

Breezy produces mobile apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry – sorry Windows Phone users. The apps are all free and easy to setup, as you need only enter your Breezy account login information.

Once setup, you will find a simple home screen that allows you to choose files and photos for printing, as well as view the list of your recently printed items.

breezy-android-app

Once everything is all setup, then you can send files to Breezy from other apps on your device, such as Office 365, Google Maps and more. Then simply open the app, set preferences such as portrait or landscape and more to get them going to your printer back at home or the office.

As I stated earlier, this is not your only option for printing from a mobile device, but I have found it to be the best of the ones I have used. If you need something printed right away while you are on the road, you even get the option to send it to any of the thousands of locations in the network – places such as FedEx stores and others.

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Everything You Should Know About Your IMEI Numberhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/imei-number/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/imei-number/#respond Mon, 30 Sep 2013 23:25:26 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81274 IMEI numbers are a source of both mystery and paranoia within many circles around the internet. While these numbers are typically associated with phones, they're not exclusive to these devices. Here we will show you what you need to know about IMEI number.

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imei-number-thumbIMEI numbers are a source of both mystery and paranoia within many circles around the internet. While these numbers are typically associated with phones, they’re not exclusive to these devices. The first time you see this ever-present number stamped on every phone you have ever bought, you start to get curious and ask yourself some questions. While you search for answers, you either run into misleading articles about them or information that tends to be incomplete. Finding the answers to your questions doesn’t have to be difficult anymore.

imei-sim

The International Mobile station Equipment Identity number (IMEI) is a number used to identify a device that uses terrestrial cellular networks. “And what is a terrestrial cellular network?” you may ask. This is the network you use when you place a call on your cell phone or access an internet connection provided by your cellular carrier through your data plan. It’s called “terrestrial” because it uses planet-side antennas, not satellites, to connect.

You may have already gathered this, but it’s handy to have a definitive answer to the question. Since the IMEI standard is used for any terrestrial cellular network device, this means that 3G/4G tablets, laptops with PCMCIA wireless internet cards, and other mobile equipment are also tagged with these numbers. If you have a dual-SIM phone, you’ll see two IMEI numbers, one for each SIM slot.

IMEI numbers have one principal purpose: to identify mobile devices. Their secondary purpose, or intention, is to prevent theft. If a mobile device can be universally identified, a thief cannot change the SIM card on a phone and expect to keep the phone. IMEI numbers are hard-coded into device hardware, making it nearly impossible to change them without somehow damaging the device.

When a carrier knows that a device has been stolen, it can blacklist the IMEI code and lock it out of the network. Later on, it tells other cellular networks to do the same.

imei-track

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: It depends. If they can’t attach a name or some form of personal identification to your IMEI number, they don’t know who your phone really belongs to. This is often the problem with prepay customers. Since they don’t sign contracts with their wireless carriers, there’s no way to attach a face or ID card to the IMEI number. The process of doing so is tedious, at best.

If you have a contract with a mobile carrier, the government could use a search warrant to access your IMEI information for number and location tracking. So, even if you swap out your SIM card with a prepaid one, you can still be traced. We’ll discuss this at length in another post.

Government is not the only entity you should worry about. Hackers can trace you if necessary using your IMEI number. However, neither of these things happen very often to the average citizen.

Since counterfeit phones aren’t made with regulatory compliance in mind, they often lack IMEI numbers. In 2010, India has encountered problems with these devices, and has tried to counteract the issue for years. So, the answer to the question is, “Yes, some devices do not have IMEI numbers, but they are often illegal.”

There are also rumors that special agencies of governments around the world use IMEI-less devices to avoid being traced by counter-intelligence black ops.

Some counterfeit phones have bad IMEI numbers. The easiest way to check the validity of an IMEI number manually is by using the Luhn formula for verification of identification codes. If you want an easier way to check your IMEI, there’s always the online checker at IMEI.Info.

If there’s anything that has helped us stop thieves in their tracks most effectively, it’s the IMEI standard. While the number could still be used against you, it’s well worth the risk.

Please join the discussion by posting a comment below!

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The Beginner’s Guide to Smartphone Camerahttp://www.maketecheasier.com/beginner-guide-to-smartphone-camera/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/beginner-guide-to-smartphone-camera/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2013 23:25:16 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81189 If you plan to use your phone to take pictures and video, you'll need a phone from a manufacturer that prioritizes the camera. Unless you get this, you'll be missing out completely on features that can make your pictures look professional.

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phonecamera-lumia1020-thumbSmartphone cameras are probably the most sophisticated little devices out there. For their size, it’s very difficult not to stare in amazement at the intricate ingenuity that goes into some phones. While your regular mid-range phones may have a simple 1080p camera, there are so many other camera features on different high-end phones that can make the pictures brilliant. If you plan to use your phone to take pictures and video, you’ll need a phone from a manufacturer that prioritizes the camera. Unless you get this, you’ll be missing out completely on features that can make your pictures look professional.

phonecamera-dslr

The whole “smartphone vs. camera” debate has been raging ever since high-end back-lit CMOS cameras started appearing on regular phones. So, what’s better?

The answer is: It really doesn’t matter. All of it depends on the reasons you might want to get a phone with a good camera as opposed to a piece of hardware completely dedicated to taking photographs. People who are serious about photography might get a decent DSLR camera, but still might want to dump some cash on a smartphone with good optics simply because it’s less bulky. You might not be carrying your bulky rig with all its attachable lens around when a great photo opportunity presents itself. In those cases, it’s very useful to have a powerful camera in your pocket.

You just can’t drag all of this around every time you walk out of your house:

phonecamera-lens

One of the biggest disadvantage to phones is the fact that there’s still no way to use attachable lens and you’re pretty much stuck with whatever the hardware can provide. Still, I cannot stress enough the convenience of having a little backup camera in those once-in-a-lifetime moments.

If a phone doesn’t give you any information about its aperture or focal length, you have no way of telling whether it has a camera that meets your liking. Usually, phones that don’t show any indication in their specs other than the resolution are not putting any priority on their cameras.

Since you’re limited to whatever optical specifications the manufacturer provides for your lens, it’s not a bad idea to try to find something that suits your liking and provides the optical experience you are accustomed to taking pictures with.

For people who are not experienced with cameras, here are a few pointers:

  • A bigger focal length means that you’ll cover less area in the picture. The simplest way to describe focal length is by comparing it to zoom. The higher the focal length, the more “zoomed” the camera is. Smaller focal lengths mean you’ll have wider angles. Nikon has a decent guide on this if you’d like to know more in-depth information. Focal lengths are measured in millimeters. The typical optics on a phone have somewhere between 20 and 30 mm of focal length.
  • The aperture (focal ratio) determines how much light enters the camera. This ratio is notated with a fancy-looking italic lowercase “F”, known as an “f-number”. A higher f-number represents a smaller aperture, which captures more light. This is important for special shots that put objects in focus. For example, compare the two images below:

phonecamera-smallaperture

phonecamera-largeaperture

The top image is taken using a small aperture, and the bottom image is taken using a large one. On some phone cameras, the shutter will take care of this by moving ever so slightly just before taking a picture to modify the aperture. Similarly, focal length is also adjusted through optical zoom.

Ultimately, a good smartphone camera will have all these things. It will have the ability to zoom by moving the optics (adjusting the focal length) and change the aperture with a mechanical shutter. Since the cameras are digital, there has to be a decent on-board backlit CMOS sensor to construct these images with great accuracy. After all that, you can worry about resolution. But, anyway, a good camera will also have a decent resolution, althoug you shouldn’t make a big fuss about anything more than 5 megapixels.

The first thing that comes to mind as far as cameras are concerned is the Nokia Lumia 1020, with its brilliant 41-megapixel camera, its special software, and its spectacular CMOS and optics. There’s also the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom (a phone with an integrated full-blown PAS – point-and-shoot – camera), and the regular S4. The HTC One and iPhone 5S are close runners up.

Whether you’ve got a thought to add to this or a question about cameras, everything is welcome in the comments section below!

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5 Practices That Can Enhance Your Mobile Privacyhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/5-practices-enhance-mobile-privacy/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/5-practices-enhance-mobile-privacy/#respond Sun, 30 Jun 2013 14:50:52 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=77020 Mobile privacy is almost non-existent. Telecommunications providers know when we place a call, the number we dial, and how long the conversation lasts. If this makes you uncomfortable, here are 5 changes you can make to reduce how much your phone carrier knows about you.

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PhonePrivacy-thumbDon’t believe the hype. Your government, more than likely, isn’t tracking you. That said, your phone carrier is. Mobile privacy is almost non-existent. Telecommunications providers, naturally, know when we place a call, the number we dial, and how long the conversation lasts. It’s how they bill us, and it’s not impossible for this information to be misused or abused. Since most of us now use mobile phones to place those calls, phone companies also know our locations. Text messages, to some degree, can be logged as well. If this reality makes you uncomfortable, here are five changes you can make to reduce how much your phone carrier knows about you.

Mobile privacy with Tango VoIP

If you don’t like that your mobile provider sees who you’re calling and when, you can get around this by using VoIP clients instead. The number of options have exploded over the years. Skype may be owned by Microsoft, but the peer-to-peer nature of its infrastructure means it is still a relatively secure means of communicating. There are also popular alternatives like Tango and Fring, which both allow users to communicate between mobile phones and computers using custom screen names. Most of these apps allow users to place free calls between two people using the same app, and some also allow you to place calls to phone numbers directly. Speaking of which…

Google Voice Online Phone Number

Google Voice, Skype, and Vonage give you the ability to create a phone number online. If you’re going to distribute a number over the Internet or communicate with people you don’t wish to know where you live, creating a phone number with Google Voice, for example, is a good way to keep your identity safe. The number provided will have a different area code from your home number. Even if you don’t trust Google or another VoIP provider with your data, authorities still have to jump through more hoops to get data from them than from mobile phone companies.

WhatsApp Instant Messaging

Instant messaging began as something you did from your computer while texting took place on phones. For many people, that situation has long passed. Until Google recently released Hangouts, the apps used to send instant messages and text messages on an Android device were largely identical. Now the biggest difference between the two is that one requires people to use the same service, and the other merely requires that both have phone numbers. But if your friends and family members predominantly use Android, you can all now communicate freely using Hangouts. iOS users have iMessage, and there are many services out there that support both platforms, such as WhatsApp. Pick a service by a company you trust the most, and cut off your mobile company from knowing who you send messages to using your phone.

TextSecure Encrypted Text

Regardless of which service you rely on, it’s possible for messages to get intercepted. If you want your communication to remain private even under those circumstances, you’ll have to encrypt the messages you opt to send. There are a handful of options available, such as Text Fortress for iOS and TextSecure for Android.

Couple Private Social Network

Maybe you don’t care about your general correspondence, but you want your conversations with your significant other to remain between the two of you. There are no shortage of apps out there that serve as private social networks between two people, permitting both to send messages, pictures, and events that only the other can see. Many options are multi-platform, such as Avocado, Between, and Couple.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop companies from tracking your location on a mobile phone. Even if you disable the built-in GPS, your phone still communicates with nearby cell towers in order to achieve the best signal. If a mobile phone is on, then it can be tracked.

Adopting various Internet services doesn’t make you invisible, It just prevents one company from tracking all of your communications. The internet is a rapidly changing frontier, and there’s no silver bullet that will make your activities completely anonymous. Giving away information to a third-party is inherent in using any online service. The solution is to carefully choose which companies to trust and be responsible about what you say and where. You can make your communications more secure by choosing not to keep all of your eggs in one basket, and you may even reduce your bill in the process.

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How to Amplify Your Smartphone Speakers with Household Items (Infographics)http://www.maketecheasier.com/amplify-smartphone-speakers-with-household-items/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/amplify-smartphone-speakers-with-household-items/#respond Tue, 07 May 2013 17:25:17 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=72176 There are times when you have some killer tunes bumping on your phone, but a stereo docking station is nowhere to be found. With a little improvisation, you can easily amplify your smartphone’s speakers using common items from around the house.

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amplify-speaker-smallThere are times when you have some killer tunes bumping on your phone, but a stereo docking station is nowhere to be found. So should you call off the party, simply because the technology isn’t on hand? Of course not.

With a little improvisation and some MacGyver-style know-how, you can easily amplify your smartphone’s speakers using common items from around the house. As you can see in the infographic below, there are two methods, depending on where the speakers are located on your phone.

ampify-speaker-infographics

To make a simple amplifier for a smartphone with bottom-facing speakers, you’ll need these items: tape, a Pringles container, a utility knife, a highlighter, a roll of toilet paper, a binder clip, a can of spray paint (optional), and of course, your mobile phone.

Steps 1 & 2: Begin by using the highlighter to mark an area at one end of the Pringles can – this area should be the approximate width of your phone so it will fit snugly. Then use the utility knife to make a rectangular cut according to the dimensions of your mobile device.

Step 3: Next, take the binder clip and position it near the center of the tube. Place the metallic clips onto the container so that binder’s opening area (used for binding papers) is facing away from the container. Tape the metallic clips to the tube so it stays upright when your phone is placed into it.

Step 4: Now, you can optionally spray paint the tube your color of choice. Be careful to do this in a ventilated area, and take care not to breathe any fumes. Wait for the paint to dry before moving to the next step.

Steps 5 & 6: Pull two or three 14-inch strips of tissue from your toilet paper roll. These don’t need to be precise, but you can measure them if you feel it’s necessary. Ball them up and put them into the opposite end of the tube.

Step 7: Insert your smartphone, hit play, and get ready to party.

In order to construct an amplifier for phones with back-facing speakers, you’ll need to gather up some items: your phone, three bobby pins, a utility knife, and a plastic disposable SOLO cup.

Step 1 & 2: Start by bending two of the bobby pins out into a 90-degree right angle. Then bend them back in so that they will fit snugly around the bottom of your phone. Make sure one end is a little longer than the other.

Step 3: Cut a rectangle that’s roughly the dimensions of your phone’s speaker into the cup. Be sure to leave a little more room at the top according to where the speaker is positioned on your phone.

Step 4: Cut four little holes into the cup. The holes should be slightly less than the width of your phone.

Step 5: Put the two bobby pins from steps 1 & 2 into the holes according to steps A and B in the diagram below. Use the third bobby pin by running it through the top holes, bending it to securely hold the other two booby pins.

Step 6: Place your phone into the clips and hit play. Depending on the weight of your phone, you may need to weigh the cup down in order for it remain upright (Note: do not use a liquid). Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be all set to enjoy some great music with your friends.

DJ Miller is a graduate student out of Tampa, FL. He is an avid gadget geek with a passion for creativity and ingenuity. He first learned how to make this homemade speaker with his T-Mobile Smartphone and then realized it could work for everyone. You can follow him on twitter @MillerHeWrote.

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Will Poor Battery Life Affect Your Smartphone Choices?http://www.maketecheasier.com/impact-of-battery-life-on-smartphone-choices/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/impact-of-battery-life-on-smartphone-choices/#respond Wed, 20 Mar 2013 14:50:54 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=67847 Will Poor Battery Life Affect Your Smartphone Choices? We put this question to our writers, asking them how important battery life is on smartphone choices.

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Battery-thumbThe more and more tasks we are able to handle with our smartphones, the more straining it is to the battery. When cell phones were just a simple phone, they can stay active for days, or even weeks, on a single charge. But now, we use our phones as a calendar, to play media, send email, keep up with social networks, and take and store pictures and the battery can barely last for a day.

Not all smartphones have good battery life, and there’s nothing worse than being away from home and having your phone suddenly die. There are products out there to help this situation, like portable battery chargers and cases that add extra life. But is it enough to take away the concern? We put this question to our writers, asking them how important battery life is on smartphone choices.

I’m an Apple fangirl, so I’m always going to have iPhones. I wouldn’t change to another smartphone just because of battery life. I’m not even sure what it would take to get me to switch away from the iPhone. Luckily for me, my iPhone 5 has good charging time. I can plug it in and have it fully charged in an hour, and it generally lasts me throughout a whole day without dying, unless I have the GPS on or am watching a lot of media on it. However, my son’s Android seems to always be dying. He often carries a charging cord with him to charge it while he’s gone. Yet he likes his Motorola phones and doesn’t want to change.

Battery-iPhone

Emmanuel agrees that battery life is important, but it’s “not a deal breaker.” If an “amazing smartphone doesn’t have the battery life to cut it, then I will look at battery packs.” He finds it a “nuisance” to have to deal with battery packs, but has had to do this (and doesn’t mind doing it) with some “amazing phones with subpar battery life.”

Battery life isn’t a big concern of Trevor’s. He doesn’t even consider it when he’s buying a new smartphone or tablet. He realizes, though, that his usage is vastly different than it is for most people he knows, so “the best I can do is take the battery life for the average person and cut it in half.” If the need arrises, he will use apps such as JuiceDefender or purchase additional batteries.

Battery life is definitely something Ruji considers, but it isn’t a major factor in her buying decisions about smartphones. She currently has an LG Spectrum that has terrible battery life. “Even if I’m not actively using it, it won’t make it through a day.” It can die after just a few hours of occasional use for Google maps or web browsing. She carries a charger with her when she leaves and has also purchased extra batteries. Still, battery life will be factored into her next phone decision, but if she finds a nice one with with poor battery life, she’ll just keep up with her current routine.

Battery-LG

Damien is very conscious with how he uses his phone and makes sure that his battery doesn’t run flat on him. He also have a portable battery pack that he brings along when he doesn’t have access to the power outlet for a long period of time. When buying a new phone, the battery life is of the least concern to him and doesn’t affect which smartphone he is getting.

Miguel looks at this question very pragmatically, knowing battery life is “paramount only to those who need to spend lots of time away from an outlet,” and since this will happen to everyone at some point, it has to have some importance to everyone, at least to some extent. However, he feels the most important consideration when choosing a smartphone, especially people who don’t have to go through battery problems often, is “the durability of the phone as well as its response time.

It seems the writers all agree on the level of importance of battery life when choosing a smartphone. It should never ever be the most important reason when making a choice, but it does factor in. Since there are so many items on the market to help with battery life, there will always be more things to take into consideration when making that choice.

What about you? Does the battery life affects your purchase decision?

Photo Credits: Mk2010 on Wikimedia and Puramyan31 on Wikimedia

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Is It Worth It to Jailbreak or Root Your Smartphone? [Ask the Writers]http://www.maketecheasier.com/jailbreak-or-root-smartphone/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/jailbreak-or-root-smartphone/#comments Wed, 06 Mar 2013 22:25:50 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=66657 One of the bigger questions surrounding smartphone ownership is if you should jailbreak or root it. This practice is done against the advice of the makers of the smartphones, whether it be Apple, Samsung. In this article, we will discuss if it is worth it to jailbreak or root your smartphone.

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Jailbreak-LogoOne of the bigger questions surrounding smartphone ownership is if you should jailbreak or root it. This practice is done against the advice of the makers of the smartphones, whether it be Apple, Samsung, etc. They ship the phones (or tablets, for that matter) to you as is, and that’s how they expect them to stay. Many owners seem to have other ideas, though.

Of course, there was a point when jailbreaking or rooting seemed like almost a necessity. When the iPhone first appeared on the scene, for the whole first year, third party apps didn’t exist. Jailbreaking existed so that people could have a way to load third party apps onto the phones. Think of the smartphone in your pocket right now and imagine if it had no third party apps! Now it’s different, though, as they all come shipped with so many more options. We put this question to our writers here at Make Tech Easier, asking if they feels it’s worth it to jailbreak or root a phone.

Even though I had one of those original iPhones, I still never considered jailbreaking it. I just couldn’t do it. It would have invalidated my warranty. I wanted to know my phone was covered if anything happened to it. However, I respect the practice and believe it’s necessary to the mobile community. Some of the apps developed by Apple were copied from the apps in the cydia store. If they weren’t doing that, the apps and features we are allowed on our phones wouldn’t be nearly as advanced as there would be no big drive to create all that.

Jailbreak-Spirit

Looking at it more pragmatically, Miguel breaks it down, saying if you own a small business it’s not worth it to jailbreak or root your smartphone, as “the inbuilt security on the phone is no longer useful in situations where an app can potentially gain full access to the kernel.” It doesn’t matter how many more options you gain if you lose the security. If you’re using the phone purely as a consumer, he feels it’s only worth it if “you’re smart about what you do with the phone.

Trevor feels somewhat similarly. He doesn’t see the point to jailbreaking or rooting if “you are just rooting to say it’s rooted … especially if it is your everyday phone with a warranty.” There’s no point to doing it and breaking the warranty if you don’t have a use for it in that condition. However, he had a device once that was very limited on space, so he rooted it to remove the apps he didn’t use to install apps that would be more useful to him.

This is very similar to the way Emmanuel views the practice. He feels most people jailbreak their iPhones because it’s the “cool” thing to do or “so easy.” Yet he advises against it and wouldn’t do it to his iPhone 5 with security as one of the major reasons. He’s one who did it during the days of the original iPhone, when it was a sixty to seventy step process, but he’s “lived and learned” and advises against it now. It seems to him that many who do it to the iPhone do it to make it seem more like an Android, and if you “want an Android so much, get one.”

Jailbreak-Terminal

Bertel admits he doesn’t generally root his devices anymore. He thinks it’s most worth it when “an Android phone has stopped receiving updates from its manufacturer/carrier and a consumer wants to extend the life of the phone (or tablet).” That’s a point well made. In this era, the major devices are getting huge updates every year, and occasionally even more often, and sometimes the companies stops adding the enhancements to the older devices. Yet, if the device is still in great working condition, you may want those features still.

It’s the chance to have as many choices with her phones as she wants that attracts Ruji to the practice of rooting her Android phones. She doesn’t do anything “too crazy,” no CyanogenMod or custom ROMs or anything,” but she enjoys the ability to tether, take screenshots, and use root-only apps such as DroidSheep and Shark.

Jailbreak-RootAndroid

Damien unabashedly admits to jailbreaking and rooting both his iOS and Android devices. For him, it makes the phone “an even better phone that it was originally and opens up plenty of possibilities that were not possible without jailbreaking or rooting.

Our writers seem to be breaking down the jailbreak or root process into one factor. You have to make sure it is worth your while. It can lead to a greater use and enjoyment of your smartphone or tablet, but you also suffer consequences, such as a loss of security. If you have a good reason to do it, proceed with caution. If you have already done it to a device you own or owned, weigh in and comment below, letting us know your thought process into it and how you feel after you have jailbroken or rooted your device.

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Is There Room for Ubuntu and Firefox in Smartphone Market?http://www.maketecheasier.com/is-there-room-for-ubuntu-and-firefox-in-smartphone-market/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/is-there-room-for-ubuntu-and-firefox-in-smartphone-market/#comments Thu, 28 Feb 2013 01:00:37 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=66201 While Google and Apple have been battling it out to decide who will grab the lion's share of the smartphone market, Ubuntu and Firefox poised to enter the market and compete with the giants. Is there any more room for new players in the smartphone market?

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FirefoxOS-Logo2While Google and Apple have been battling it out to decide who will grab the lion’s share of the smartphone market, some new guys on the block have decided to throw their hats into the ring. Users pick up the battle, arguing whether Android or iOS is the best smartphone operating system, but they aren’t the only contenders anymore, with Ubuntu and Firefox poised to enter the market. And they’re not alone. Tizen wants a piece of the action as well.

Previously Windows Phone jumped into the game with a lot of fanfare, but they really haven’t made a dent in the market controlled by Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iOS. Despite this, Ubuntu and Firefox, as well as Tizen, have recently announced plans to join the crowded smartphone and mobile operating system market.

Mozilla has been successful with its Firefox browser, competing against Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari, and now they are ready to jump into the mobile game as well. They have plans to release Firefox OS sometime this year. Ubuntu has had its own success as a desktop operating system for Linux computers, and now they, too, want to jump into the mobile OS market with Ubuntu Touch. Tizen has no immediate plans to be released in the US, but with backers such as Samsung and Sprint Nextel Corp. a member of the Tizen Association, it makes you wonder how long it will be before Tizen-enabled phones are in the States.

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Image credit: Mobile Phones Old and New

The burning question is, of course, what will happen in this market. What will happen to Android and Apple? Will they continue to control the mobile OS market or will they give up some of their dominance to the overcrowded market?

Android has been gaining momentum on Apple recently, but maybe the newbies coming in will hurt their trend. For a long time, the fight has been Apple vs. the other guys, and that goes all the way back to desktop computers, as well as mobile phones and tablets. With three more joining “the other guys,” does that boost Apple’s rank and take away some of Android’s share?

It’s a good guess that Apple isn’t too worried right now, despite the mess that their stocks have become with unhappy investors. It seems far more likely that Android users will fall from the ranks to try the services of the Ubuntu and Firefox OS rather than Apple users, and if Tizen is released in the US, that’s only going to complicate things even more. It will still be Apple vs. the other guys, and the other guys will be splitting that share five ways.

What do you think?

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How to Make Your Tablet as Powerful as a Desktophttp://www.maketecheasier.com/make-tablet-as-powerful-as-the-desktop/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/make-tablet-as-powerful-as-the-desktop/#comments Mon, 11 Feb 2013 22:25:50 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?post_type=post-ideas&p=63114 Steve Jobs once theorized that the tablet computer would at some point overtake the desktop and laptop market. And that moment seems to be now. In this article, we discuss how you can make your tablet as powerful as the laptop and probably replace it forever.

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Powerful-tabletSteve Jobs once theorized that the tablet computer would at some point overtake the desktop and laptop market. At the time it seemed preposterous. Why would we give up all the great hardware to use a small device that didn’t have all the options? In his remarks, Jobs made the comparison to trucks and cars, saying trucks were at one point used more often than cars, because that’s what you needed on the farm. But urbanization changed all that, making cars more popular.

The same thing has happened with technology; it hasn’t rendered desktops and laptops obsolete, but it’s made them not as necessary. It’s possible to make your tablet as powerful as a desktop or laptop. You just have to have the right setup and have the diligence to see that there is almost always a way to get the job done.

If you want to work long hours on your tablet, you have to make sure you have a good stand that can allow the tablet to stand at different angles. The good thing about a tablet stand is that it can be portable and attach when required or even double as the protection cover for your tablet.

Powerful-Stand

It’s obvious what is missing from a tablet to make it truly like a laptop – the keyboard and trackpad/mouse. First, forget the trackpad/mouse. Touchscreens eliminate the need for a trackpad or mouse. For casual browsing, the keyboard is redundant as well, but for serious work, you will be more productive with a physical keyboard.

There are plenty of keyboard options in the market, and most of them make use of Bluetooth to connect to your tablet. Tablets such as the Transformer series from ASUS even come with a keyboard dock that is fully integrated with the tablet.

One note of caution: examine the keyboards before you buy them. You have to make sure that you can type comfortably on it and it is not missing necessary keys like “Shift” or “Enter”.

Now that you have a physical setup that resembles a laptop or a desktop, the next thing is to setup the software. This needs a slightly different way of thinking – instead of the regular software you install on your desktop, we will mostly deal with apps on your tablet (unless you are using the new Surface Pro). To use your tablet the way you would a desktop, you just have to find apps that do all of your required functions.

Browsers

Most of the browsers that you use on your desktop are also available on your tablet. Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari (mobile) and Opera are available for both iOS and Android, and Microsoft’s Surface uses Internet Explorer 10. Other browsers include Dolphin, Skyfire, Maxthon and more.

In term of capabilities, these browsers are not up to mark as compared to their desktop version, but I have found no (or little) issues when using them for my work.

Documents

Whether you want to take some quick notes, write an essay, or write your blog, there will always be an app for it. Tablets reign over laptops in that you can even handwrite notes and illustrate them with handwriting apps. You can work on Microsoft Office documents with Quickoffice, Documents to go and iWork documents in iWork. For document collaboration, Google Drive is one good app that allows you to create document and share with others.

Social Networking

One of the easiest things to do on a tablet is social networking. All the major sites have apps, and sometimes they have functionality built into apps. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all available in apps, as well as video communication like Skype.

Music

You can start with iTunes, but it only gets better from there. You can use a player that will also identifies music for you with SoundHound, can play radio stations across the globe with TuneIn Radio, and can stream music with Pandora. Or you can combine your music and social networking with site like Spotify.

Powerful-Apps

Unlike desktop where it is comes with TB of storage space, most tablets are short of physical storage space. This is where a cloud storage service comes in. Whether it’s iCloud, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, etc., you can now store all your documents, photos, media without your tablet running out of space. You can create a network of all your devices, and back up everything to each device, or only back up what you want where you want. Many of these start as a free service, but also have paid premium service for an extra cost.

Splashtop-Dock

Lastly, there may be a few times when your tablet just won’t do, and you really need the services of a laptop or desktop computer. For that, you can remote connect to your desktop and control your desktop directly from your tablet. Splashtop is one of the more popular app for remote controlling your desktop. Teamviewer is another great alternative.

It’s definitely possible to make your tablet as powerful as a desktop. What makes tablets more attractive these days than desktop or laptop computers is technology eliminating the need and giving more advantages to the tablets.

How do you make your tablet as powerful as a desktop?

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MTE Explains: The Evolution Of Cellular Network, From 1G to 3G and 4Ghttp://www.maketecheasier.com/the-evolution-of-cellular-network/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/the-evolution-of-cellular-network/#respond Mon, 20 Aug 2012 14:50:43 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=54715 If you live in a large metropolitan area, most likely everywhere you go, you will stay within the 3G bandwidth. Once you travel outside your area, you can lose that bandwidth to either the EDGE network or even even no network at all. The following gives a quick reference to the evolution of bandwidths and how they're used, as well as the difference between the currently available bandwidths.

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3G4G-LogoIf you live in a large metropolitan area, the bandwidth you use with your mobile devices isn’t much of a concern. Most likely everywhere you go, you will stay within the 3G bandwidth. Once you travel outside your area, though, you can lose that bandwidth to either the EDGE network or even even no network at all.

The following gives a quick reference to the evolution of bandwidths and how they’re used, as well as the difference between the currently available bandwidths.

3G4G-Network

Cellular networks are provided by mobile phone service carriers. Each one has their own. The network is made up of individual cells emitting radio frequencies through a certain area. If you are within that area, and use that individual carrier, you will be able to pick up that cell signal. The carriers license their service of cell towers with different strengths, whether they’re 3G or something else. If you have a mobile device that allows for that strength of cell service, and you’re in an area that provides it, you’ll be able to pick up its transmitted radio waves.

3G4G-1G

The names of these different signals refer to the age of the technology behind the signal. 1G simply means the first generation wireless signal. Truthfully, it existed beforehand, but this was the first time it was available to everyone. The signal was strong enough to transfer phone calls, but transferring data wasn’t in the picture at the time. The networks that used this signal were analog networks.

3G4G-2G

2G was the first digital cellular network, and it was bigger and better than 1G. While it offered enough capacity to to send data, it was still limited. The data it was transferring was mostly just text messages. It really couldn’t handle more than that. To connect with anything online, however, it still needed to to be done through dial-up.

3G4G-2

This is the first time the cellular service made it possible to be “always on.” It doesn’t work through dial-up, and instead keeps the users always connected so that they can place a call or use data whenever they want. Because of this, cell phone service providers for the first time started billing subscribers by the kilobyte instead of by the minute.

3G4G-EDGE

EDGE (Enhanced Data-rates for GSM Evolution) is really still just a 2.5G. However, they found a way to use that same technology to get double the transfer speed than simply 2.5G. This meant it was faster than 2.5G, but not as fast as the standard that had already been set for the the future 3G.

3G4G-iPhone

To be recognized as 3G, a network has to not only stick to a certain speed requirement, but it also has to feature a smooth transition from a 2G network. It received an upgrade referred to as Revision A, allowing for faster uploads and downloads, which became a necessity for the sharing of pictures and videos. the 3G standard wasn’t fast enough.

3G4G-Android

The 4G standard allows for 1Gbps when stationary and 100Mbps when mobile, making it 250 times better than the 3G technology. Because of this, the FCC wants it used in rural areas, as working with a cell tower is easier than adding fiber optics in those areas. Because of that extreme improvement, though, there is currently no true “4G” available, despite the claims of phones and phone services. Instead they are really using a technology being referred to as LTE and WiMAX. They are indeed faster, but not as much as the 4G standard allows.

The lack of the 4G does call into question why it is routinely allowed for phone manufacturers and service providers to call their highest bandwidth 4G, as there simply isn’t one available on the market right now. Your phone might say you’re picking up a 4G signal, but it isn’t. It’s really a modified 3G signal. Once you travel out of your 3G or “4G” area, you will most likely fall into the EDGE network, or fall into having no service whatsoever.

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4 Ways To Make Your Website Mobile Friendlyhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/4-ways-to-make-your-website-mobile-friendly/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/4-ways-to-make-your-website-mobile-friendly/#respond Wed, 01 Aug 2012 23:25:52 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=53787 If you are not making your site mobile-friendly, you are going to head out of business pretty soon. Here are some options and tips for you to create a mobile version of your site.

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iphoneThe days of the static website, assuming people are browsing on only a small handful of screen resolutions, are gone. Sure, there are still many many people browsing the internet on desktops and laptops but now there are also many different other sizes to contend with. The mobile boom has really changed things. They’re saying that mobiles on the internet are surpassing desktops and that’s a real possibility.

Website developers have the fun job of making sure websites work well on both desktop resolutions and mobile sized screens. There are ways to make this happen. The ultimate goal is a smooth and flawless user experience. Any kind of negative experience can turn a user away, possibly for good. Let’s look at four possible solutions website administrators are currently making use of.

Since the number of websites running on WordPress, regardless if they are labeled as blogs, is huge and growing, the first solution happens to be a WordPress plugin. Actually there are several plugins to choose from. Several years ago we featured an article on MobilePress. There is another very popular plugin called WPtouch Pro.

mobilefriendlywebsite-wptouch

If you find the right WordPress plugin, it will automatically redirect our mobile friends to a good looking mobile version of your site. Many of them offer some customization options so you can make sure the mobile site reflects what the full-sized site looks like.

Many website designers decide to make one design instead of two. They can make the site flexible enough to look good at almost any resolution. For instance, take a look at this site (maketecheasier.com). Try it! Resize the browser window and see the changes that take place as the window shrinks. The design looks good all the way down to the size of a mobile phone’s browser.

mobilefriendlywebsite-flexible

This type of design can be tricky and hiring a good designer to make it look and work nice might be the best route to take.

Did you know that you can also make your website or blog into a mobile app? You can even have them listed on iTunes and the Google Play Store. This can be a good way to not only make your site mobile friendly but get the word out at the same time.

mobilefriendlywebsite-mobileapp

There are several choices when it comes to websites that offer the service for free. Try appsbar.com and freeblogapps.com.

The last and final option is to hire someone to design a mobile version of your website from scratch. They can do anything from taking your design and shrinking it, setting up your site to redirect mobile browser users to the new site, all the way down to rewording the copy to fit better on a smaller screen.

Obviously this can be the most expensive of the options but with a design team on your side, you’ve got personalized service and someone to turn to when it doesn’t work right. A good example of a service that can help in this capacity is NotixTech. They can handle making your site mobile-friendly but can also handle mobile coupons, marketing campaigns and QR codes.

The answer to the mobile-friendly website conundrum really depends on your situation. In the article we discussed four very different solutions and each one may work really well for different circumstances. Which one works for you? Oh, and what other solutions can you think of?

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Understanding Airplane Mode on Electronic Devices [Geek Explains]http://www.maketecheasier.com/understanding-airplane-mode-on-electronic-devices/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/understanding-airplane-mode-on-electronic-devices/#comments Fri, 09 Mar 2012 00:58:13 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=46499 To follow with technology, the industry created something called “Airplane Mode” that’s used when you’re onboard a flight, obviously. However, have you ever wondered what exactly does it mean? How can you have your phone in that safe mode, yet also get WiFi onboard a flight? As soon as everyone started carrying electronic devices, whether […]

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AirplaneMode-LogoTo follow with technology, the industry created something called “Airplane Mode” that’s used when you’re onboard a flight, obviously. However, have you ever wondered what exactly does it mean? How can you have your phone in that safe mode, yet also get WiFi onboard a flight?

As soon as everyone started carrying electronic devices, whether they were laptops, iPods, or cell phones, the flight attendants started making announcements to turn them off after a certain time. As fun as they are to use, and at some times necessary, they can also interfere with the signal transmission of the airplane. There’s nothing that important that could warrant interfering with the plane you’re riding in with it possibly causing an accident.

AirplaneMode-Settings

Electronic devices then started coming equipped with something called “Airplane Mode”. Sometimes it’s called something else, such as “Offline Mode”, but it’s still the same thing. What it does is disable the device from transmitting signals, while still allowing it to be used in other ways. While you won’t be able to text or send emails, you will be able to listen to music, take photos and play games that are standalone and work without transmitting signals. You can also write emails and texts and save them to send later when the Airplane Mode is turned off.

AirportMode-Safari

Most devices will show you that you’re in Airplane Mode in some way. The Apple iOS shows a little airplane in the upper left corner and can be accessed in the Settings menu. If you try to use the Internet, it asks you to either take it out of Airplane Mode or get under WiFi. Different devices and different services treat Airplane Mode differently. Some allow GPS and Bluetooth, while others do not. It would be worth it to check out your device before you fly to find out what will still work under Airplane mode and what won’t.

AirportMode-Gogo

Confusing all of this even more is that many airlines are now offering a WiFi service onboard. And that is used while you’re in the Airplane Mode, which doesn’t initially seem to make sense. However, the airlines are using the Gogo service which has cellular towers across the U.S. The devices connect to the antenna on the plane, instead of antennas on the ground, which means they don’t interfere with the cell towers. Additionally, devices using the Gogo service WiFi transmit on a lower power, preventing interference with the signals the planes are submitting.

AirplaneMode-iPhone

Theoretically, electronic devices, including phones, computers, radio receivers will emit electromagnetic wave that could interfere with the plane navigational system, but in real life, there have not been any experiment or concrete proof that these electronic signals directly resulted in the crashing of the plane.

AirplaneMode-plane-crashed

According to the Wikipedia, most, if not, all airlines still ban the use of cell phone on their planes simply because there are no conclusive safety tests to prove otherwise. There are no return in investment in conducting such tests, so for safety reasons, it is just best to disable the use of electronic devices. We are not discounting the fact that using of electronic devices could affect the plane, but is just that there is no concrete proof to say that using of mobile device is the sole culprit for crashing the plane. It is still best to switch your mobile phone to Airplane mode (or switch it off completely) since you can’t make any phone call with it at 30,000 feets above ground anyway.

There’s an additional reason to use the Airplane Mode as well, and it has nothing to do with air travel. Since Airplane Mode requires much less power to operate the device, it means it’s a good mode to switch to to save power if you’re running low on power and not needing to be using it for anything that would be transmitting signals.

Keep in mind that when flying, even though you put your device into Airplane Mode, when the flight attendants or captain announce that all electronic devices must be stored away, that means all of them whether they are in Airplane Mode or not. They will let you know when you can use them again, which is usually when they achieve a certain altitude or when they touch down again.

Image credit: Crashed Plane by Big Stock Photo.

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5 Joyous Apps For Wedding Inspiration [Windows Phone 7]http://www.maketecheasier.com/5-joyous-apps-for-wedding-inspiration/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/5-joyous-apps-for-wedding-inspiration/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2012 00:58:29 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=44354 Wedding planning can be fun and exciting if you have a direction and understanding of what you want to achieve. When you need some inspiration, you probably turn to magazines, books and TV shows. However, let’s face it, we are always on the go! The Windows 7 Phone has some great apps for anyone who is […]

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wedding-apps-bridecoverWedding planning can be fun and exciting if you have a direction and understanding of what you want to achieve. When you need some inspiration, you probably turn to magazines, books and TV shows. However, let’s face it, we are always on the go! The Windows 7 Phone has some great apps for anyone who is planning a wedding. Whether you are a bride-to-be or a wedding coordinator, you will find some great inspiration in these apps!

This app is not your average planning app. It’s set up in a blog style with each section covering an every area of concern for a bride-to-be. With new content being added continually, you are sure to be inspired.

wedding-apps-bride

In the Healthy Bride section, you will find recipes and cleansing diets that will help you look and feel great on your wedding day. The Martha Stewart Guide is “A Good Thing” for great suggestions of unique and perfect wedding touches. In Broke Bride, you will find all things related to having a wedding on a budget. Find great ideas for inexpensive attire and DIY projects that will give you more bang for your buck. The Etiquette section gives you answers to all of those questions you want to know, but are afraid to ask! The Wed Plan News tab gives you news and articles with advice on everything from song suggestions to picking the right vendors for your big day. This app will keep you up to date on hot new wedding ideas! Best of all, it’s free!

Everyone has been to that boring wedding that has bad music selections or exactly the same music as the last wedding you went to. This free app is perfect for helping you choose songs that have meaning for those special dances like your first dance and the father-daughter dance. Keep the party going with a fresh selection of songs to dance the night away.

wedding-apps-dance-songs

This free app is an eclectic mix of  inspiration. If you are a bride in search of something unique, this is the place to look! The Offbeat and Unique tab has an ever changing column showcasing various wedding ideas that are sure to appeal to the unique bride. In the Budget and DIY tab, you will find ways to be creative with your wedding budget and fabulous DIY designs for wedding decor.  This is also the first app I have seen that showcases an Eco-friendly idea section. It has some great Eco-friendly wedding planning ideas and ways to recycle things from your wedding (like your bouquet) in some really pretty ways.  There are additional tabs for Invitations, Music, Cakes, Flowers and Bridal Beauty making this the app to have for all things wedding related.

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This app will help you Keep track of multiple budgets. Customize them to fit your needs by giving each category an estimated budget. It will be displayed along with the actual total and remaining budget to help you see how much you have left to spend. $2.99

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This brand new app for 2012 is my favorite since I’m a huge Pinterest fan! Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where you can organize and share all the things you find on the web. Browse everything from photography, hair and makeup to wedding inspiration. With the Pinspiration app, you can browse various categories in Pinterest without having an account. If you have a Pinterest account already, you can upload pictures of things you love direct to your boards to share with others. Whether you are just browsing or have an account, this free app is invaluable.

wedding-apps-pinterest

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6 Debt Buster Apps For Windows Phone 7http://www.maketecheasier.com/6-debt-buster-apps-for-windows-phone-7/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/6-debt-buster-apps-for-windows-phone-7/#respond Tue, 03 Jan 2012 15:58:44 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=43421 In the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, meeting a deadline to get things finished often takes priority over keeping our budget in balance. We are so consumed with finding the right gifts to complete our list, that we don’t think of what it means to our bottom line when all is said and done. […]

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wp7-debt-mainIn the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, meeting a deadline to get things finished often takes priority over keeping our budget in balance. We are so consumed with finding the right gifts to complete our list, that we don’t think of what it means to our bottom line when all is said and done. As we turn the page to a new year, make one of your resolutions to be more financially organized which, will in-turn allow you to be better prepared next year.

Whether you need a budget, debt reduction plan or both, these great apps for Windows Phone 7 will allow you to be organized and stay on top of all your financial responsibilities.

1. Spending Money

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This is a great app for someone who doesn’t need a whole budget, but needs to manage money until the next payday. It helps you stick to a weekly or monthly spending allowance by being a mobile bank register. Enter the next payday, spending limit, and spending as it occurs. Then watch the tracker count down how much money you have left to spend until payday. When you want to see where your money went, simply view the chart by day or category.

2. My Budget

wp7-my-budget

This budgeting app allows you to manage multiple accounts tracking expenses for work and home. Assign each transaction a category to see where you are spending most. In addition to scheduling bills and transactions on the go, you can track expenses with spending limits and scan receipts to keep everything organized. View daily, weekly and monthly charts of budgeted expenses, actual expenses, and bills by category. The easy to use control panel and at a glance balance viewing will help you stay on top of your financial goals!

3. Finance Helper

wp7-finance-helper

This full budget app allows you to create a recurring budget with fixed and variable expenses. After your fixed expenses are established, you will only need to create a monthly budget for items that vary. In addition to managing a monthly budget, this app has a built in calculator which will estimate your monthly loan payment as well as interest for existing loans. A full repayment schedule will be generated for the loans you enter and the extra payment calculator will show you what interest you could save by paying a little extra each month.

4. MoBudget

wp7-mobudget

This powerful budgeting system can be used to track expenses, as well as organize incoming and outgoing line items. Not only can you set reminders for upcoming payments, incomes and bills, you can also pin live tiles to your start menu so you will never miss a due date again! The colorful budgeting graph displays actual balances versus budgeted balances so you will be more careful to stay on budget. If you are a poor manager of credit cards, use the credit card usage tool which displays credit card payment estimates and warnings. There is a free trial but for $1.99 the full version is a steal!

A budget is only the first piece of the puzzle when it comes to personal organization and fiscal responsibility. Sometimes we have extra income and don’t spend it where it can best be utilized or we are the ones lending money or personal items never to be seen again. We get busy and as time goes by, we forget who borrowed what. There are great apps for tools to manage those type of debts as well.

5. Quick Snowball

wp7-quick-snowball

This app is based on the Debt Snowball Method in which you pay the minimums on everything and attack small debt items first. Just enter your debt and interest rates and you will have a calculated balance along with a goal payoff date.

6. Debt Control

wp7-debt-control

This is a great tool to manage borrowed money and items. Fill in the person’s name, contact info, and what they borrowed from you. You can attach a picture of the item so you can see if there was any damage done to the property upon it’s return. The “My Debts” page will display who borrowed what, a picture of the item and how long it has been borrowed. Then, you have the option to call the person about the item’s return. No more forgetting who you lent that book or money to.

As you roll into 2012, what are you going to do to take control of your money and personal property?

Image credit : alancleaver_2000

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8 Mango Features You May Not Know For Windows Phone 7http://www.maketecheasier.com/8-mango-features-for-windows-phone-7/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/8-mango-features-for-windows-phone-7/#respond Tue, 27 Dec 2011 15:58:03 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=43110 The Mango update for Windows 7 phones has been long awaited for anyone who took the leap of faith and moved from an iPhone or Droid to test out the Windows 7 platform. I will admit as a former iPhone user that the Windows 7 phone had been lacking in features and speed. I had […]

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wp7-mango-mainThe Mango update for Windows 7 phones has been long awaited for anyone who took the leap of faith and moved from an iPhone or Droid to test out the Windows 7 platform. I will admit as a former iPhone user that the Windows 7 phone had been lacking in features and speed. I had faith Microsoft wasn’t going to let the competition stay ahead long and eventually might have better features than its competitors. The Mango update has been out a few months and has brought about some awesome advances in the capability of this phone as well as some much needed hype and enthusiasm from its users.

This feature allows on the fly conversion from texting to Facebook chats so you have the ability to text and chat at the same time! Talk about multitasking!  Go to either the “me” tile or go to the “people” tile. Select your picture then “set chat status“, which is where you can change your chat availability. To see if someone is online to chat with, select the “message” tile then select the person you want to chat with. Tap on the “double arrow icon” on the bottom of the screen and you will see a display with a text option and their Facebook chat availability.

wp7-messaging

If you have more than one email service linked to your phone, they each take up a tile space on the start screen. Now there is a cool feature where you can link your inboxes together into one tile and see all your messages in one place. The really cool thing about it is you don’t have to link ALL of the email accounts together. You can leave a work email tile only, with two other generic email accounts linked or any combination that works for you. To do this, open an “email” tile and tap on the icon at the bottom of the screen. Select the “link inboxes” option and it will open a list of your email accounts. Tap each one that you want to link together and like magic, they merge into one tile! Additional side features to that is the ability to rename the tile or pin individual folders to your start screen so you can see only what you want.

wp7-link-inboxes

The update features to the camera include automatic detecting of faces when you’re uploading pictures to Facebook or Windows Live – just tap, tag, and post. It also now allows you to pin whole albums to your start screen including albums from Facebook and your camera roll with an option to also delete all contents of the album if you “long press” on it.

wp7-photo-tagging

I can’t tell you how many times I have been in the middle of an email or text and I flip over to something else for a second and I have lost everything I was typing. I was used to the iPhone which allowed you to switch between tasks without losing what you were doing so that was a pet peeve of the Windows 7 phone for me. With the update, you can now get back to what you were doing by simply “long pressing” the “back button” and slide the screen until you find the task you were last on.

wp7-multitask

This is by far one of my favorite new features because I am constantly on the go and communicate with most people by text. I don’t like the Bluetooth ear piece or have the hands-free option in my car so this has been very handy. If you go into “settings” then “speech“, you can select how you want to receive your incoming texts. If you use Bluetooth or wear a headset, there is an option for that or simply select the “always on” option. When a message comes in, it will tell you who the message is from and give you the option to read it aloud or ignore. After it is read, it will give you the option to reply or be done. If you chose to reply, speak your message and say send. Simple hands free texting is faster and safer!

wp7-listening

I have always been a Google user but since getting this phone, I have embraced Bing. Some neat features include the ability to not only search for a shopping mall but go even further and view an indoor map of the mall! No more wandering around looking for a directory only to find that it is now an advertisement for a store you don’t shop at! You can also be listening to a song on the radio that you want to know more about. Hit the Bing “music icon” and it will recognize the song, produce the album art, song title and link to the Zune Marketplace so you can purchase it.

wp7-bing

The only problem I had with the music feature, was having to unlock the phone every time I wanted to forward past a song or pause it. If you want to have a new music experience, follow these steps! Go to “settings -> lock -> wallpaper” and select “show artist when playing music” to ON. Now when you play music, the artist appears as your wallpaper and all the controls are right there as well. No need to unlock anything and it gives a nice user experience with the changing screen.

wp7-music-control

In all the reviews about the Mango update, nobody mentioned copy and paste! This was the main feature I missed from the iPhone and I am so happy to have it back! You can copy and paste about anything you want. I mostly use it to copy a text I sent someone and send it to someone else or copy into email. Simply “long press” on the message and select “copy“. Go to the application you want to paste it to and tap the little “clipboard icon” to paste it.

wp7-copy-paste

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Pogoplug: Cloud Storage Made For Mobilehttp://www.maketecheasier.com/pogoplug-cloud-storage-made-for-mobile/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/pogoplug-cloud-storage-made-for-mobile/#respond Sun, 04 Dec 2011 15:58:49 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=41866 A big problem with a lot of cloud storage options is they are intended for you to sync computers to other computers. Mobile syncing seems to be an after thought. Pogoplug was made with mobile in mind. Mobile cloud syncing is kind of a big deal for a lot of people who are on the […]

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pogoplug-logoA big problem with a lot of cloud storage options is they are intended for you to sync computers to other computers. Mobile syncing seems to be an after thought. Pogoplug was made with mobile in mind.

Mobile cloud syncing is kind of a big deal for a lot of people who are on the go more than at their desk. Pogoplug comes with 5GB of cloud storage that works with Android and iOS devices. You will get automatic syncing of your pictures, videos and music with the option to stream them from your mobile device or on your computer.

For starters, you will need an account. You just need to give them an emai-pogoplugl address and a password. This will be enough to create your account and get you to the links to download the apps you need to install.

There are 2 downloads you will need: one to your desktop and one to your mobile device. I will be showing screen shots for Android, but here is a link to download the iOS version.

Click here or scan the QR code to download the Pogoplug from the Android market.

qr-pogoplug-pogoplug

You will also want to download the desktop application.

You will need to log into your account on both your computer and your Android device.

On your Android, your pictures will be automatically uploaded to the Pogoplug server. It took a while for the thumbnails to display though. Other than the images, nothing else automatically upload from the phone. You can manually upload videos, pictures, music and other files from your mobile device to your 5GB of cloud storage.

During the uploading, the original picture, instead of a resized version, is uploaded. Having the original uploaded to the cloud means you won’t need to worry about your photos getting lost if something happens to your mobile device.

auto upload-pogoplug

Also, if you have files on your computer you would like to access while mobile, you can drag and drop the files to the desktop application.

desktop upload-pogoplug-pogoplug

A really cool thing you can do with your synced audio and video media is stream them to your devices. If you have a song stored in your account, you can play the song as if it was on your phone. The same is true with videos you have uploaded to your cloud storage.

play song-pogoplug

If you have a lot of music stored and labeled well, you can even search by artist, genre, song or album title.

music-pogoplug

  • Automatic picture and video uploads
  • Streaming media from the cloud
  • Simple desktop app
  • Only pictures and videos can be uploaded from your Android

Pogoplug is a great work in progress. They have the right idea and have a great start. Right now it is great for those who want a spot to backup their pictures instantly and having some of their favorite mp3 files easily accessible.

If Pogoplug wants to play with the big boys like Google Music and Amazon’s cloud player and storage, they will need to add some features or at minimum allow better uploading options.

What cloud apps do you use to store and stream all of your digital media?

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7 Different Apps to Read Magazines and Newspapers on iPadhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/7-different-apps-to-read-magazines-and-newspapers-on-ipad/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/7-different-apps-to-read-magazines-and-newspapers-on-ipad/#respond Wed, 03 Aug 2011 14:58:18 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=36410 Trees all over the world should be rejoicing with all the technological advances. Books, magazines, and newspapers no longer have to be read on paper. They can be read via various electronic methods. One popular method is reading via a Kindle device, but iPads and iPhones also function as readers, specifically for magazines and newspapers. […]

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Reading-USALogoTrees all over the world should be rejoicing with all the technological advances. Books, magazines, and newspapers no longer have to be read on paper. They can be read via various electronic methods. One popular method is reading via a Kindle device, but iPads and iPhones also function as readers, specifically for magazines and newspapers. There are several free apps that are available to read periodicals. Here’s a look at a small sampling of them:

Reading-USA

The front of this app looks just like a newspaper. This paper is a non-local newspaper available all over the country, and one always filled with general news. The iPad version is no different. On the face of it is the headlines, sports scores, and weather that you can match to your own local weather. Clicking on a news article pulls up the full text along with the options to change the text size for easier readability and sharing options, including Facebook, Twitter, Email. This app is 100% free.

Reading-Trib

I’m a Chicago girl, so I’m looking for some more local news. While I can get an iPhone app for a suburban newspaper, I like the Trib app because it’s laid out great and has everything I want except extremely local news. It, too, looks like the front of a newspaper, with top stories, breaking stories, and the weather. It also includes options to “Favorite” an article you want to remember, and the same sharing and viewing options as USA Today. While the app is free, and the headlining articles are all included, to get the full paper electronically, a subscription is required.

Reading-Sun

Again, I’m looking for some Chicago news, and this electronic news is so much different. Instead of having clean and attractive articles, the entire newspaper is scanned in. Every single page is here, including the ads, and it’s all free with the app. You can flip through the entire newspaper and just read the parts you want, just as you would a paper edition.

Reading-Tap

While the Sun-Times includes options on the side to flip through, highlight articles, etc., you can do a two-finger click on an article of interest, and it will pull up a larger version of just the text for you to read.

Reading-Newsweek

If you’re a political news junkie, Newsweek is a magazine you might already be buying, but you can also get daily stories on your iPad. You can subscribe to it on your iPad and also buy individual issues, including archived issues. Additionally, it offers slideshows for viewing.

Reading-People

This one works much like Newsweek, except it doesn’t have the daily news articles. All that’s offered in the free People app is the opportunity to buy individual issues or subscribe electronically. It also includes archived issues. If you’re already a print subscriber, subscribing to the electronic version will be free.

Reading-Sports

Again, it works much the same as Newsweek and People. However, the Sports Illustrated app is more like Newsweek in that it also has daily stories to be read. It, too, can be subscribed to electronically, and can also be purchased through single issues. If you’re already a print subscriber, the electronic version will be free.

Reading-Oprah

Oprah didn’t hide her love of the iPad, making it one of her last season’s “Favorite Things.” because of this, it only makes sense that she would have a great iPad app for viewing an electronic version of her magazine. Oprah’s Magazine app isn’t just great for reading the magazine’s articles, it’s also very interactive. Opening an issue for the first time, a video of Oprah plays as she introduces the issue. Older issues are free to download, but the newer ones will cost you. This issue from last December featured her Favorite Things with interactive 360 degree views, yet it also has regular articles, such as this interview with Tyler Perry.

Reading-Tyler

This is just a small sampling of the newspapers and magazines available for the iPad. The Kindle now makes periodicals available on its iPhone and iPad apps, but so far the choices offered don’t come close to what’s offered via individual apps for the iPad.

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How to Find Lyrics For Your Songs On iPadhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/find-lyrics-for-songs-on-ipad/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/find-lyrics-for-songs-on-ipad/#respond Mon, 01 Aug 2011 23:58:05 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=35747 The iPod app in iOS is one of the best app around. It allows you to search your music by artist, song, album, genre, composer and display lyrics while the music is playing. However, as good as it gets, it is still lacking the capability to add/edit the music info in your iPhone/iPad. Worst still, […]

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Lyrics-iPodLogoThe iPod app in iOS is one of the best app around. It allows you to search your music by artist, song, album, genre, composer and display lyrics while the music is playing. However, as good as it gets, it is still lacking the capability to add/edit the music info in your iPhone/iPad. Worst still, it can’t find the lyrics of the currently playing song. If you are looking for ways to find lyrics for your songs on iPad, here are several apps for you.

iLyrics is the good place to start simply because it’s currently a free app. As its name implies, it will find lyrics within iOS apps. It does. It works very well at displaying the lyrics that it finds for the songs playing. The problem is that it doesn’t find all the lyrics. I listen to some very obscure music. Additionally, I’m a big American Idol fan, and I download songs throughout the season, but these don’t come up with lyrics in this app. It’s easy, but not always effective.

Lyrics-iLyrics

LyricFind works much the same as iLyrics. One difference is that it also includes album and artist info. It’s a great addition, although it doesn’t have the aesthetic appeal that iLyrics does. That’s all in the free version. In the paid version, there is also the ability to search by title, artist, and known lyrics. You can also submit lyrics that you have found yourself, or corrections, and they will see about changing or adding them..

Lyrics-LyricFinder

The simply named Instant Lyrics does a better job of finding the lyrics than some of the others do, but the reason is because it works through Safari, and also costs $1.99. It utilizes multiple lyrics search engines in Safari to search for the lyrics you’re looking for. The problem with this is that it requires a lot of bouncing around. After that song finished playing, you have to initiate the app again, call up the next song, and it then goes back to Safari again. If you’re playing a lot of songs, it’s not very applicable. However, you can have it store your favorite songs for quicker recognition.

Lyrics-Lyrics

Soundhound used to be much more limiting than it is. The free version used to only allow a certain number of music searches, but now it’s unlimited. It includes iPod controls to all of your stored music and will also bring up the lyrics. Again, it’s only if the app can find it.

Lyrics-Soundhound

SoundHound has one other large benefit. It can identify songs by listening to it play on another device, such as the radio, TV, etc. In that way it works very much like Shazam. Yet, it also searches for songs by your voice. You can sing or hum into it and it can find those songs based on your own knowledge. It also has a field where you can type in name and artist. Once it identifies a song, it comes up with links to download it, album art, a google search of lyrics, etc.

Lyrics-More

While there is no lyrics app for the iPad that does everything I want it to, from finding, displaying, and editing of lyrics, it seems Soundhound offers me the most options, and is free as well. While it doesn’t find all the lyrics, neither do the others. On top of all that, it has that great search function. For the more obscure songs that it won’t find, I can always bounce back to the Lyrics app.

What about you? How do you find lyrics for your songs in iPad?

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FX Photo Studio Review [iPhone App]http://www.maketecheasier.com/fx-photo-studio-review-iphone-app/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/fx-photo-studio-review-iphone-app/#comments Mon, 25 Jul 2011 23:58:33 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=35933 There are so many photo apps for iPhone and iPad that it can be hard to know where to start looking. Simply type “photo” or “photo editing” in a search yields too many apps. I tried FX Photo Studio recently, and more than anything else, it’s just a lot of fun. If you’re looking for […]

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FX-LogoThere are so many photo apps for iPhone and iPad that it can be hard to know where to start looking. Simply type “photo” or “photo editing” in a search yields too many apps. I tried FX Photo Studio recently, and more than anything else, it’s just a lot of fun.

If you’re looking for a photo editor that will clean up, sharpen, add text, etc., you’re looking in the wrong place. But if you’re looking to make some really different and fun pictures, it will do much better. Its best feature is that it has so many options, it’s questionable if you’ll ever use all of them. It allows you to either take a photo through the app, use a photo from your camera roll, or import a photo from Facebook or your documents.

FX-MainEdit

I decided to use this picture of my daughter and one of my dogs. Upon importing or snapping the desired photo, the app takes you to a screen where you can crop the photo to being square, or leave it as is. The next screen is the main editing screen. Along the bottom are standard editing screens such as cropping, rotating, and brightness and contrast, etc. Along the top, it has the option to do any of nearly 200 effects.

FX-EffectsEditing

Once you choose which effect you want, there’s more options after that. You can either use it as is, or you can change the amount, brightness, contrast, etc., depending on the effect.

FX-SpotEditing

Additionally, you can just apply the effect to certain pieces of your photo. It has a brush to paint the effect on certain pieces. It also has an eraser to take it off of certain pieces. Additionally, there are a few buttons to create a mask around a shape, with it also allowing you to invert the mask. Where it falls short is that it offers your some brush options, but not different sizes. It’s hard to paint the effects in such broad sweeping strokes.

FX-Apply

Once you’re done setting the effect the way you want it, hit Apply, and while you wait for it to finish, it gives you a trivia fact, a different one every time. It’s a fun little extra. At this point, you can choose to finish or continue. You don’t have to stop with just one effect, and can add effect upon effect.

FX-Sharing

Once your image is set the way you want it, as with the rest of the app, it gives you plenty of choices. You can save the image to your device’s photo album, documents, or clipboard, or you can print it as well. You can also share it via:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • Email
  • Tumblr
  • Instagram

FX-Finished

The app works on both the iPhone and the iPad, but the size of it is more suited for the iPhone, meaning it’s most likely a native iPhone app that works on the iPad. However, I found it hard to do the brush strokes on the small iPhone screen, so I did the work for this picture on the iPad and just used it at 2X the size. I ended up not using the brushes for this, so I definitely still could have done it on the iPhone, however.

FX Studio (iTunes link)

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