Smartphone Apps that Find Stuff

StickNFind is a Kickstarter project that uses your phone and coin-like tags to find lost items, using Bluetooth. Stick-N-Find stickers, about the size of a quarter, have a buzzer and light, so that you can find stuff also in the dark. Stick-N-Find Stickers have a Range of about 100 Feet, with a Battery that lasts for over a year.

A radar-like screen on your phone shows the approximate range. Up to 20 tags can be paired to one phone. When any of their batteries get low, the user will be notified via the app.

There are already similar systems available, such as the Gadget Hound, U Grok It, and BiKN. All three of those, however, incorporate hardware that is used either instead of a smartphone, or that the phone must be docked into.

Other tracking apps include:

  • PetRescuers for lost pets – for iPhone & Android. Free app reports your microchipped pet missing on the app or website, or help others find their lost pets in your area.
  • Park’n Find. This 99-cent app takes the frustration out of finding your car in the parking lot. After you park, you can ‘tag’ a new parking spot on your smartphone using you’re smartphone’s GPS. Then, you can add photos, a voice memo and even parking meter information to your tag.
  • Found in Town a online database that makes it easy to return lost items to their owners. Register and receive FiT tags for your items for FREE in the mail. Then, activate your tags on the website and stick them to all of your things that get lost frequently
  • Gadget Trak increases your chances of recovering your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch by having the ability to track your device and even snap a photo of the thief.

T-Mobile Needs HSPA Refarmed for iPhone

Amid speculation that T-Mobile USA will or will not carry Apple’s new iPhone, the carrier’s network is working hard to support it, refarming their PCS band with HSPA. T-Mobile, of course, won’t have LTE service until mid-2013. Meanwhile, the carrier now counts 15 markets with HSPA on 1900 MHz.

T-Mobile currently has most of its voice service on the PCS band (1.9 GHz) and most of its HSPA+ data on the AWS band (1.7/2.1 GHz). Unfortunately, iPhones don’t (yet) support the AWS band, so users are generally stuck with 2G speeds (EDGE) on the PCS band, not the higher speed HDPA+ network which can gang a couple of 5 MHz carriers together for faster speeds, up to 42 Mbps.

T-Mobile engineers have made HSPA available in the PCS band in Miami; Phoenix; San Francisco; Mesa and Tucson, Ariz.; Modesto, Oakland, San Jose and Stockton, Calif.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“Customers in these metro areas can also bring their unlocked AT&T smartphones to T-Mobile, and experience a significant speed boost on our 4G network, while also saving up to $50/month compared to AT&T”, said Chief Technology Officer for T-Mobile USA, Neville Ray, last week.

More markets are expected to launch HSPA on the PCS band before year-end. The company is working on adding HSPA+ 1900 MHz capabilities in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, the New York metro area, Philadelphia, San Diego and Seattle.

Jim Alling, COO of T-Mobile USA, sounds uncommitted; “Make no mistake about it: We would love to carry the iPhone. However, we want the economies to be right for us,” he said.

Some of company’s HSPA+ deployments in its 1900 MHz spectrum were delayed due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy. While the refarming effort is proceeding, T-Mobile is unlikely to launch the iPhone until the process is complete, says Fierce Wireless.

An unlocked iPhone 5 is pretty pricey; $649 for the 16GB model, $749 for the 32GB model, and $849 for the 64GB model.

Newspaper Ad Revenue Down 5%

Newspaper advertising revenues were down 5.1 percent in the third quarter, compared to the same period in 2011, the Newspaper Association of America reported.

The results were marginally better than those for the first two quarters of 2012, but the industry has posted advertising losses for 25 consecutive quarters, dating back to 2006.

Digital advertising grew 3.6 percent in the quarter. However that gain failed to cover print losses by a ratio of about 10 to 1. National print advertising was especially soft, falling 10.5 percent year-to-year.

According to company reports in the last month, circulation revenues, buoyed by digital subscriptions and price increases, are holding even or increasing. And some companies are generating growing revenue from other activities like contract printing and social media marketing services. Those categories of revenue are not measured quarterly by NAA.

EMarketer projects that US newspaper print ad revenues will to drop significantly in the coming years, slipping to $16.4 billion in 2016 from $19.14 billion in 2012. Digital revenues, which include all digital platforms, will edge up to $4 billion from $3.4 billion, so they will not cover losses from print.

Online Ad Revenues will pass print in 2012 says eMarketer as more people spend time online, a perception that online ads are more measurable, and a growing comfort by advertisers in ad campaigns that integrate multiple channels, including online.

Nonetheless, television will remain dominant through at least 2016, according to eMarketer.

Ohio’s largest newspaper, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, could soon face the end of its 170-year run as a daily print publication. The “Save The Plain Dealer” campaign, largely orchestrated by its employees, has bought billboard ads opposing the possible cutbacks planned by the paper’s owner, Advance Publications.

The Daily, News Corp.’s attempt to create a newspaper for tablets, is shutting down after less than two years. The media giant said it will “cease standalone publication” of the app on Dec. 15.

Nook Tablet Jelly Bean Conversion

If you own a Barnes & Noble Nook Color or Nook Tablet, then you can turn it into an Android 4.1 tablet, quickly and easily, says Rick Broida, of C/Net.

N2A Cards offers a bootable microSD card that transforms the Nook into a real Android tablet, complete with the Google Play store.

Originally, that option limited you to Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread, but N2A Cards now offers a $29 bootable Android 4.1 card for enabling Jelly Bean in both the Nook Color and the Nook Tablet (FAQ).

An 8GB N2A Card with embedded Android 4.1 costs $29.99, $39.99 for the 16GB version, $64.99 for the 32GB version, and $84.99 for the 64GB card. But you can also download the software for $19.99. Then all you need is a compatible microSD card of your own.

Rick Broida adds:

“I’m sure many readers will point out (rightly so) that you can accomplish much the same thing on your own for free. But that takes some know-how, and there’s little support to be had if things go wrong. Here you’re getting a bootable card (which you can remove if you want to return to the Nook OS, no harm done) that’s already configured with the popular CyanogenMod version of Android. It’s literally a plug-and-play solution.

The $159 Nook Tablet (8GB) matches up well to the $159 Kindle Fire in specs and price–but it has the added advantage of offering an expansion slot for additional memory, a feature lacking in the iPad, Nexus 7, and Kindle Fire.

Liliputing has more specs on the Nook Tablet (above).

Kindle’s KF8 format supports fixed layout on both Kindle and Kindle Fire, but it’s really only useful on a Fire. The chart (above) erroneously shows Kindle support for ePub. Nook readers support ePub-2, but ePub-3, with embedded audio and video, among other things, is still not supported. Apple’s iPad and their free iBook Author program incorporate a proprietary fork on the ePub-3 standard, which restricts readers to Apple devices and availability only on the iTunes store.

Google Play is home to 675,000 apps and games and has crossed 25 billion downloads.

At some point Google Play will support ePub-3 (with embedded audio and video). That’s when the Nexus 7 will need to support Google Wireless at 2.6GHz — IMHO. Perhaps a Google Wireless announcement at Mobile World Congress in February 2013, will offer discounted (even free) data service. Apple and Amazon may have to make a similar move.

Microsoft Confirms Surface Pro at $899

Microsoft says their Surface Pro tablet will start at $899 for the 64GB model, with the 128GB version $999. Surface with Windows 8 Pro will run current Windows 7 desktop applications and comes with an Intel processor.

Both of those prices reflect the “standalone” model, which means you’ll get a Surface pen/stylus, but a keyboard (included in the Touch or Type Cover), will cost another $100 or more. Both will be available in January, although there’s no specific date or word on pre-orders yet.

Windows RT, using an ARM-based processor, won’t run legacy apps. Windows RT has lots of printer drivers and comes bundled in a compatible version of Microsoft Office, but drivers for many 4G dongles are not generally supported (yet).

Both have a built-in kickstand, and a 10.6-inch display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. A key difference with that latter bit, though, is that the screen packs a full 1920 x 1080 resolution as opposed to the 1366 x 768 found on the RT model.

Surface with Windows 8 Pro specs include a 3rd Gen Intel Core i5 Processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000, 4GB of RAM, a Mini DisplayPort that can output a 2560 x 1440 resolution, a full-size USB 3.0 port and, of course, Windows 8 Pro with support for all your traditional desktop applications. It’s just over half-an-inch thick and weighs two pounds, heavier and thicker than the RT version.

Consumer Reports: Verizon Best, AT&T Worst

Consumer Reports annual survey of the nation’s wireless carriers, found Verizon Wireless the highest-Rated major carrier with AT&T at the bottom, although AT&T stole the 4G title from Big Red.

The survey polled some 63,000 U.S. wireless subscribers for their thoughts on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. Verizon received top marks for voice quality and customer service. Sprint’s network and customer support earned it second-place honors, while T-Mobile rated third and AT&T ranked dead last for the third year in a row.

AT&T’s 4G LTE network outmatched Verizon’s, although AT&T’s network covers about 150 million Americans across 103 markets. Verizon’s network covers more than 300 million Americans across more than 400 markets. AT&T’s LTE speed and performance won top marks.

The report found that no-contract plans can be major cost-savers. Two-thirds of Consumer Reports survey respondents who switched to so-called “prepaid plans,” which typically lack a contract commitment and bill each month in advance, saved more than $20 a month by switching to prepaid.

TracFone was among the top-Rated prepaid providers, receiving high marks for value, voice and text. Like Consumer Cellular, it specializes in those who seek simple, low-cost phone service.