What’s the next big task our phones will take over?


It seems like with each generation of mobile phones, this handheld monster takes over another chunk of our tech demands. It’s pretty much the perfect employee, right? Doing more each year than it did the previous year, and not really asking much more of our money.

Think about it. In the past decade or so, the mobile phone has replaced the walkman/MP3 player, the point-and-shoot camera and the GPS. And that’s just to name a few of the big ones.

So what’s next? Like technology, the possibilities are endless. It’s almost to the point where we don’t have to wonder what’s next, we’ll almost get to decide what we WANT next.

I personally look forward to smartphone innovations that, as a side effect, eliminate my need for some other piece of technology or some other thing I have to carry. Like in my previous examples — no longer do I need a GPS in my car and an MP3 player in my pocket for my daily driving/walking commute into San Francisco; now it’s just my iPhone.

In that spirit, here are two of the things I’d like to see my phone take over in the near future. I’m not talking being able to do these by some nifty work-around; I’m talking about a full everyone-is-doing-it takeover.

1. My remote control(s): I feel like we’re probably only a step or two away from this. With Apple TV, you can already control some of your multimedia experience with your iOS devices. There are even a few interesting work-arounds for both Android and Apple devices to control your TV. With that in mind, I feel like the potential to completely replace the need for any remote is within our technological grasp. That’s a development I’d certainly welcome. I almost always have my iPhone or iPad in hand when I’m watching TV anyway. So let’s ditch these remotes.

2. My wallet: We are somewhat on our way to this already, especially when it comes to making purchases. If you give me the ability to make any purchase I’d like with my phone, then that only leaves a few reasons to carry my wallet — my driver’s license and my auto and medical insurance information. I don’t have to tell you how easy it would be to incorporate those into smartphone technology. Hell, Geico and State Farm already do it for auto insurance. Many doctors’ offices don’t need your actual insurance card, they just need the information on it. Lastly, if states are going to accept your digital ID as proof of car insurance, surely they’d accept some applicable form of digital driver’s ID as proof that you’re a licensed driver. Give me those three things, and I actually have no need to carry a wallet anymore.

So there you have the things I’d most like to see incorporated into my smartphone. Now it’s your turn. What do you think will be the next be development in smartphone technology, or what would you most like to see? Let me know in the comments.

Is it time to fire your office phone?

You’re at work, and your phone rings — as long as it’s a weekday, during working hours and you’re actually at your desk, you should have no trouble getting the call.

Ask yourself this question: Do you trust your most important calls to the phone sitting on your desk?

I personally don’t even have a phone on my desk. Don’t want one. What’s the point? I have a phone in my pocket.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a work number; it just goes to my mobile phone. It’s all managed online, and that office number doesn’t ring unless the call comes in during business hours (otherwise, it goes straight to voicemail). When I get a voicemail, I instantly get an email with a transcription of the message and a link to play the audio if I want to (I almost never need to).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome offices are starting the process. I worked in a place that instead of giving you a desk phone, they handed you mobile phone on your first day — certainly a step in the right direction. However, I’ve also worked at places that give you a “work” mobile phone in addition to a desk phone. So now there are three numbers to worry about? (facepalm)

When will the day come when companies just issue you your phone number and enable you to manage it the way that best fits your work-style?

Soon, I hope. At home, most of us have already fired our landline phones, according to this study.

Until the time when offices distribute phone numbers like they do your email address, I’ll offer up my homegrown … erm, office-grown solution.

When I took my current job, I was offered an office phone. I declined. Actually, a lot of folks around here don’t have desk phones as many of them have no dealings with anything but their in-office cohorts and the products they are building. Not having an office line wasn’t really an option for me (I take a lot calls and spend a fair amount of time on conference calls as well).

So I turned to Google Voice. It has the ability to sign up for a local number, have that number forwarded to your phone. You can even set it to accept calls only during certain hours. You can have your mobile phone display that the incoming call is meant for your office number, so you don’t answer work calls with your off-hours “W’sup?” Additionally, there is the voicemail transcription service I mentioned earlier, and it’s all free.

So give it a try, if your office will allow, and ditch that desk phone.

Phone submerged? Don’t panic

So you’ve dunked your phone in the toilet, the pool, a lake, the ocean or some other collection of H2O. Now what?

I have done this, and I have been able to bring that phone back to life using tips very similar to the ones in this infographic. Check it out, and be sure to check for my commentary below.


The first tip is pretty “no duh,” but I’ve actually seen people pull their phones from below the water table and try to shake them dry. While this may work for dogs (well, not really), it certainly isn’t the best course of action for electronics as you could force water into deeper areas of the device.

Again, “dry it off” is a no-brainer, and you should definitely try to disassemble it as best you can — those of you with iPhones, do the best you can (at least remove the case). I’ve never actually tried to spray the phone with alcohol or to tried to vacuum up the moisture, so good luck with that.

But what I’ve heard of, used and swear by is this rice trick. Rice soaks up moisture, and it will work to pull every bit out of your phone or other electronic device. The only time this probably won’t work is if the device is beyond saving already. Those electronic first-aid kits that you can buy use the same tactic, and are supposed to work better. I haven’t personally used one.

When it comes to the “Fun Fone Facts,” the only one I found surprising was that men are three times more likely than women to have a phone damaged by water. Maybe that’s because we pee standing or we’re probably more likely to be pushed into a pool by a buddy? I don’t know.

NCAA Hoops, MLB lift smartphone sports app usage

It’s something we’ve all been aware of, but now there’s hard data to prove it — after the Super Bowl, most sports fans immediately ask, “So when’s Opening Day?”

Since we can’t seem to do anything without a smartphone in our hands these days, it has become pretty easy to track interest in events. Check out the graph below, which shows the use of sports apps by members of the Arbitron Mobile smartphone panel.


Said Arbitron Mobile in press release last week:

In the two weeks following the NFL championship game on February 3, use of mobile sports apps by men, age 18 and older in the Arbitron panel, plummeted from 12.9 percent to 10.0 percent. Starting the week of March 10, as fans starting filling out their brackets for the NCAA Tourney, use of mobile sports apps boomed, reaching 13.7 percent of men, age 18 and older during the week of the “Elite 8″ and the opening games of Major League Baseball.

The initial spike seen from the NCAA is thanks to what we all know as March Madness (a multi-week frenzy at the end of basketball season), but what I found most interesting was that the usage increase continued through the opening week of baseball season. This is regular season, out performing the NFL’s biggest game and college basketball’s end-of-season madness. Which kind of makes sense when you look at the sports, especially when you take into account my personal app usage.

I’m most using smartphone sports apps during baseball season, because it takes a little extra help to keep up to date on a 162-game regular season.

Also included in the data dump was the insight that smartphone sports applications are used by a dominatingly male audience. But what might surprise you is when the data breaks down into age group — men aged 35-44 are the top users of mobile sports apps. Men in their teens, 20s and early 30s are in fact the least-using of sports apps.

Mobile Sports Apps
Men 18+ Men 18-24 Men 25-34 Men 35-44 Men 45-54 Men 55+
% Using Sports Apps 18.4% 17.0% 16.2% 22.8% 19.2% 17.2%
Time Spent/Month 63.8 60.5 71.7 77.1 47.2 50.0
# of Sessions/Month 32.8 35.8 42.1 35.1 22.1 22.5

If I had to guess? Those aged 18-34 still have time to actually WATCH the sports. Perhaps the rest are just busier, and have to rely on a mobile app to keep up with their team’s season.

Data from U.S. Arbitron Mobile Trends Panels™ Service, March 2013

New from Facebook, this ain’t your big brother’s Poke


Credit: Facebook

Facebook on Friday announced its newest mobile app with an old name — Poke.

Poking your friends, a feature that’s been on Facebook since most of us signed up (I currently have seven unanswered Pokes from years back), has had something of a rebirth in the most-recent iPhone app from the social giant.

Ever heard of SnapChat? Yeah, it’s kinda like that. You can send your friends a message, photo or video (the new poke) and they get the chance to view it once … and only for a few (up to 10) seconds. When the time runs out “the message disappears from the app,” read a release from Facebook.

One doesn’t have to have to most colorful imagination to come up with certain reasons why you might want to send your friends temporary messages. Just think of something you might want them to see, but not be able to show anyone else.

And that’s about all I have to say on that.

Right now, Poke is available in the Apple iTunes store for all you running iOS mobile devices. Enjoy, if you dare.