The Rise Of Mobile Apps

How the rise of mobile apps is making everything easier

By on August 29, 2014 at 3:35 PM.

How the rise of mobile apps is making everything easier

There was a time when Googling for “how to erase background in Photoshop” meant something. Budding graphical wizards understood that software existed to accomplish fantastical things such as removing a background and coloring it with something else, but the process was complicated. It required supremely expensive software, plenty of time for research, and the patience of Job. But it was easier than doing it by hand, so we were grateful. More →

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App Store

Six years in, the mobile app market is already mature

By on August 28, 2014 at 4:04 PM.

Six years in, the mobile app market is already mature

It’s tough to remember an iPhone without third-party apps, but sure enough, the ability to download from the App Store didn’t arrive until iOS 2.0 in the summer of 2008. Though the iPhone 3G wasn’t nearly the global phenomenon that the iPhone brand as a whole is today, it was still quite clear that what Apple had just opened was the modern-day gold rush. Curious users flocked to the App Store on a daily basis — back in my time at Engadget, a few editors even pored through every single app release on a given day to see what was worth downloading. Now, with thousands being published every 24 hours, that same tactic is simply untenable. More →

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Featured
Smartphone Notifications

Wrangling push notifications: Control your phone before it controls you

By on August 27, 2014 at 4:08 PM.

Wrangling push notifications: Control your phone before it controls you

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been there. Buzzed, dinged, and blooped to death. For as incredible as smartphones are, their ability to notify you about anything and everything can quickly become a nightmare. Early on, in simpler times, it was a common technological courtesy for your phone to notify you whenever a call, text, or email was inbound. We branched out a bit with instant messaging, and if you were really crazy, you might even ask the ESPN app to ping you whenever your favorite team recorded a W. More →

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Social Media Critics

On social media, you’re more than just a critic

By on August 26, 2014 at 4:15 PM.

On social media, you’re more than just a critic

Judgmentalism has been a staple of societal life for longer than I’m even capable of understanding, and as such, folks have been handing out criticisms for just as long. It’s common practice for creators to look down on other creations, and moreover, to bestow opinions on current events without ever being asked. It’s an issue that has surely been around for some time, but it feels as if social media has only served to add fuel to the proverbial fire.

Talking heads of the tube were bad enough, but at least there were only a smattering of those. Now, we have billions of those same heads, and unlike television, their words remain linkable, searchable, and retweetable ad infinitum. More →

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laptop-garage

Subscription fatigue: Are all of those monthly plans worth it?

By on August 25, 2014 at 5:07 AM.

Subscription fatigue: Are all of those monthly plans worth it?

Blame the banks. Blame cheap credit. Blame serialized television advertisements that encouraged your mother to purchase something she didn’t need because she could pay for it in four monthly installments. Actually, just skip the blame game — subscriptions are here to stay, but they aren’t all bad. In recent years, the technology industry in particular has started to shift revenue models. While software, as an example, was sold as a one-time purchase for decades, today’s programmers largely expect smaller recurring revenues. More →

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Featured
moto-x-cameraphone

The photographed world: How our generation is redefining the art of documentation

By on August 22, 2014 at 3:50 PM.

The photographed world: How our generation is redefining the art of documentation

It was November of 2006, and while many were stuck in a food coma and/or preparing to zone out for the holidays, Flickr was launching a new tool. “Camera Finder,” it was dubbed, and its purpose was immediately clear: To allow viewers an insider’s look as to what digital imaging tools were making the biggest splash across the network. Even in 2006, consumers adored trends. As it turns out, Nikon even took out a sponsorship to trumpet its mighty D80 DSLR — after all, what camera company wouldn’t want such a tool to showcase its wares on? More →

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Featured
Why Is Amazon Prime So Successful

Unlimited two-day shipping has made it hard to wait for anything

By on August 22, 2014 at 1:05 PM.

Unlimited two-day shipping has made it hard to wait for anything

A few years ago, I was “that guy” — the one searching for fillers to boost my online shopping cart to $25 so that I could have the lot of it shipped to my place gratis. It wasn’t glamorous, but it worked. At the time, it felt like moving entirely unrelated products from Points A, B, and C to my home (let’s call that Point Z) in 5 to 7 business days was acceptable. In fact, it was remarkable. I clicked a few buttons, went about my day, and stuff just showed up a week later in a box I could either re-use or recycle. It was the future. More →

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Featured
Turn By Turn Navigation iPhone

An ode to turn-by-turn navigation: Making ‘lost’ a foreign concept

By on August 20, 2014 at 4:50 PM.

An ode to turn-by-turn navigation: Making ‘lost’ a foreign concept

Last week, I drove for 11 hours in a vehicle during a single calendar day. I decided to take such an endeavor the evening before, and all told, it took around five minutes to scope out the plan. The morning of, I settled into the adequately posh driver’s seat of a trusty rental car, tossed my iPhone into a Kenu Airframe mount, tapped a few screens, and threw it in drive.

And I knew that absolutely everything was going to be just fine. More →

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Featured
Twitter Vs. Facebook Advertising

Twitter goes Facebook by injecting foreign content into your stream

By on August 20, 2014 at 12:20 PM.

Twitter goes Facebook by injecting foreign content into your stream

It was really just a matter of timeTwitter is now Facebook. In its early days, where new Facebook users friended just a handful of close pals and relatives, every single status update poured through into one’s news feed. And then, hundreds of millions of people joined. More →

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“The ability to search for and find ongoing conversations about nearly any problem in the known universe is one of the Internet’s greatest gifts to humanity.”
— Darren Murph
Featured
Why The Internet Is Awesome

Let’s never speak again: The incredible benefits of searchable text

By on August 4, 2014 at 12:00 PM.

Let’s never speak again: The incredible benefits of searchable text

I could, in theory, phone everyone up that’s reading this story and convey this message to them via voice. I’m in no position to argue the merits of vocal interactions, and indeed, we all owe a great deal to Alexander Graham Bell and the invention of the first practical telephone. But we’re beyond that now. The power of the Internet is too great to encapsulate in a single article, but I’ve been relying on it more heavily than usual of late. As I slide into a new home, I’m faced with all sorts of quandaries. DIY projects abound, curiosities need sating, and in general, I’m finding myself thirsty for knowledge in an area that I’m somewhat unfamiliar with. More →

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How Undersea Internet Cables Work

The insane process of connecting the world through undersea Internet cables

By on July 30, 2014 at 11:51 AM.

The insane process of connecting the world through undersea Internet cables

We’ve oohed and ahhed over interactive maps that detail the world’s mysterious network of undersea Internet cables, but a new report over at Builtvisible is taking things to an entirely new depth. The exhaustive account looks at the entire history of the process, ranging from experiments in the 1840s to a rash of undersea surveillance taps in the 1970s. Today, there are 263 active cables that carry upwards of 95 percent of global Internet traffic, with 22 new drops planned for the coming years.

Hungry for a few more nuggets from the report? More →

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Long Flight Tips

How to make long flights tolerable for just $60

By on July 23, 2014 at 2:31 PM.

How to make long flights tolerable for just $60

Flying is amazing. You can start your day in Russia, and finish it in Reno. You can travel in relative comfort at over 500 miles per hour. Of course, the operative word here is relative. Few things are sweeter than figuring out a way to cruise in business class as you cross an ocean or two, but if I’m honest, it’s pretty impractical for the vast majority of humans. So, do you squeeze yourself into an impossibly tight seat for 13 hours to get from Atlanta to Seoul, or do you stay home and spend the day clicking through Google Images?

You go.

I’ve endured my fair share of excruciatingly long flights in economy class, and there’s really no redeeming quality to the experience. The only benefit is that you arrive somewhere different. In fact, a quick Google search for “how to survive long flights” yields page upon page of tips from here, there, and yonder. I suppose I’m adding yet another to the pile. More →

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Opinions
Windows Phone Vs iPhone

Are we witnessing Windows Phone’s last stand?

By on July 22, 2014 at 3:15 PM.

Are we witnessing Windows Phone’s last stand?

Much has been written about Microsoft’s unsettling plan to cut loose some 18,000 of its employees by the end of 2014. You could argue that it’s a necessary evil, or you could argue that it’s a short-sighted misstep. From what I’ve read, this is about Microsoft repositioning itself for the current reality it finds itself a part of.

In many ways, Ballmer never took the steps to shape the company into a viable behemoth. Just as he laughed off the iPhone in 2007, he never really figured out that the company was slipping in a lot of ways — not the least of which was mindshare.

Out of the 18,000 announced cuts, a staggering 12,500 will come from Nokia’s devices division. A division that Ballmer was hellbent on acquiring before heading for the exits. To me, however, the question shouldn’t be on Microsoft’s commitment (or lack thereof) to building phones. The question should be about Windows Phone.

I’ve long since believed there are some battles worth fighting, and some worth conceding. The trick, as you know, is figuring out which slots where. More →

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