Four years ago, a British man named Eric Moger had a tennis-ball sized tumor removed from the left side of his face, along with most of his face itself. Because of the surgery, Moger had to eat and drink through tubes inserted into his stomach. But Moger’s life changed recently, as doctors used CT and facial scans to create a blueprint for the part of his skull they had to remove. That blueprint was then used to create a perfectly fitted facial prosthetic out of nylon plastic, which was attached to his skull and let him to eat and drink normally again. The success of the printing and surgery has led the implant specialist who helped create Moger’s 3D-printed jaw and face prosthetic to hope to develop techniques to allow 3D printing in silicone. 3D printing is still extremely new, but that hasn’t stopped remarkable stories like this. As the technology improves, 3D printing’s role in medicine will expand and bringing hope to people that traditional procedures couldn’t help.
How do you use your phone to talk to friends and co-workers? A recent study says that more of us are using chat apps, like WhatsApp and iMessage, than traditional texting. The study was conducted by Informa and showed that by the end of last year, more messages were being sent with WhatsApp, Kik, iMessage and BBM than through regular text messages. While these messaging apps may be convenient for us, it’s troubling for carriers as SMS has been a massive source of revenue in recent years. Don’t shed a tear for your mobile carrier, though, as the study says that SMS will still bring in over $120 billion this year. But considering 2013 will see twice as many messages sent through apps than through SMS, the huge potential for monetization is obvious. What will happen if WhatsApp or another program begins charging you to send messages? As we connect in new ways, it’s only a matter of time until we’re hit where it hurts most: our wallets.
We’re quickly approaching WWDC, Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, which starts on June 10 in San Francisco. Normally, WWDC is a time for Apple to show off its new software and tech for developers. We’ll definitely see iOS 7 next month, with the first major user interface overhaul that the OS has ever seen. Rumor has it that there will be some new hardware shown off, too. But before you rush down to the Apple Store, know that Apple’s not expected to show off any new iPhones or iPads, even though we know they’re coming. Instead, Apple is expected to unveil several new MacBooks alongside a new version of OS X. Like a lot of the MacBook upgrades, these are expected to have only minimal changes, and should begin shipping soon after they’re unveiled. While we may not see the next iDevices we’re going to be using keep your eyes and ears peeled for news from WWDC, as we’ll definitely get to look at the OS those iDevices will be running.
: One of the biggest advantages Android had over iOS was Google Now, which gives you the information you want, when you need it. It’ll help you manage your day, stay connected and find fun things to do nearby. Google Now is now on iOS, though, with most of its core features intact. Google Now is activated within the Search app, and once you activate it, you can use it to access your Gmail, calendar, location, search behavior and more. Now is most helpful to those people who run their lives through Google, like me. I use Gmail and Google calendar, which means Now already knows my schedule and commitments, and has a good understanding of what my information needs are. While Now is missing features like nearby events and Fandango, there are still more than two dozen others that remain, including the major ones like weather and traffic. Now is part of the free Google Search app in the App Store, so grab it today!
When Snapchat hit iOS, it took the social world by storm. Suddenly, you could send messages to your friends that would self-destruct in a few seconds. It makes sense, then, that people might want to do the same thing with their tweets. That’s where Efemr comes in. Efemr is a web app that lets you “self-destruct” your tweets. Once you authorize Efemr to access your account, you can decide how long you want a tweet to stick around with a hashtag. Want to conduct a quick poll? Hashtag it #1h and your tweet will be deleted after an hour. Efemr says it was created to make your Twitter activity more fleeting, but also as a way to protect your e-reputation. While it’s nice to automatically get rid of tweets you don’t want cluttering up your feed after a certain amount of time, all it takes is one retweet or screenshot and your e-reputation is in as much trouble as ever. Efemr is cool, but use it wisely.
If you’re in the New York City area, you may have noticed that riding the subways has been a more connected experience. That’s because the Metropolitan Transit Authority recently added free Wi-Fi and cell service to 30 subway stations. The free, Boingo-sponsored Wi-Fi was previously only available in a few place, like on the L and C/E lines, but now can be found at stations like Times Square and Columbus Circle. This recent upgrade also made AT&T and T-Mobile customers very happy with coverage in those same stations. For now, those are the only carriers that have been added, but coverage for Verizon and Sprint is on the way. There are big plans for the future, too, with the services coming to Queens and Midtown by next year and the Bronx and the East Side after that. Within three years, the MTA says, they want all stations connected. As we become more hooked up in this connected world, it only makes sense that our subway stations do, too.
When Windows 8 hit the market, many users didn’t like how visually different it was from what they were used to. Instead of having a traditional desktop, you were plopped into a tablet-like environment, complete with moveable tiles. It seems like Microsoft is aiming to calm the fears of anyone hesitant to make the switch to Windows 8, though. A new rumor says that Microsoft is going to change the way the Start Screen operates when Windows 8.1 releases later this year by letting you boot directly to a traditional desktop. The feature will supposedly be disabled by default, but one quick settings change will have you back to the Windows interface you’ve come to know – and maybe love – over the years. This option won’t disable Windows 8 features like Charms and Start Screen, so if you’ve gotten used to those but want to boot straight to the traditional desktop, you can now have your cake and eat it, too.
Have you ever been sitting on your couch, in the middle of a marathon Gears of War gaming session, when the urge to have pizza overwhelms everything else? But your phone’s out of reach, and having to drive to pick up a pizza would cost you valuable gaming time. What to do? Thanks to a recent partnership between Microsoft and Pizza Hut, your problem has been solved! Pizza Hut released an app to the Xbox Marketplace that lets you order and customize a pizza. What’s different from being able to do the same thing on your computer or phone? The Xbox app will let you use Kinect, Microsoft’s motion tracking and voice-controlled accessory, to build the pizza through hand gestures and voice commands. While it’s a fun idea, it also shows how off-track and meaningless the Kinect has become. What could have revolutionized gaming is now being used to let you order pizzas so that you don’t have to leave your couch – at least, until the delivery guy arrives.
When Google launched Google One Today, a charitable giving app on Android that asks you to donate $1 to different organizations, it wanted to make sure that you knew exactly where the money you donated would go and how it would be spent. Google said it created the program because of its long-standing commitment to do good in the community, to help make fundraising easy for nonprofits and to make giving simple and fun for users. Like many other apps, One Today has a social element to it, letting you set an amount of money you’d be willing to match if your friends donated to a cause. Google says that one of the reasons it added this feature was to give people a chance to donate even if there wasn’t a particular charity they were passionate about. With Google Wallet integration, One Today is a quick and fun to way to help those in need. Now you can change the world from your smartphone, one dollar at a time.
Put away that Kindle Paperwhite – there’s a new e-reader in town with an even clearer screen. Kobo, the go-to e-reader for bookstores looking to distance themselves from Amazon, recently unveiled its Aura HD, the world’s first HD e-reader. With 25 percent more pixels per inch than the Paperwhite, the Aura has the highest resolution screen of any major e-reader on the market today. Couple that with Kobo’s font adjusting Text Genius feature, and your e-reading has never been clearer or more customizable. Kobo says the Aura’s back is contoured to nicely fit your hand and that the battery should last nearly two months on one charge. The Aura, like the now extinct line of Nook e-readers, uses the open source .epub format, which means you have more places to buy books from. While the e-reader may be dying, the Kobo Aura seems like one of the best choices if all you want to do is tear through The Hunger Games before Catching Fire hits theaters later this year.