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.
You open up Facebook and see someone’s posted a YouTube video. Someone is walking down the street, eyes glued to their phone until they walk into something or trip over something. You laugh and say, “I’d never do that!” Well, one app that’s currently in development may make it so that no one ever does it again. A researcher at University of Manitoba in Canada is working on an app called CrashAlert, which uses a depth-sensing camera to see things you might run into and pop up a warning on your phone, letting you know it’s there. Wouldn’t it just be easier to put our phones away and not text and walk? The researcher says he’s developing the app because of how attached we’ve all become to our phones, and thinks the connection to our devices is only going to get stronger in the future. As we become more in tune with our connected world, ideas like this may seem silly, but they also sound helpful.
If you’re like me, you tend to watch TV with a tablet or smartphone – or both! – in your hand. Amazon knows this, which is why it recently brought its X-Ray feature to TV. X-Ray originally worked with books, and told you how different characters related to the story. Amazon brought the feature to movies with the help of IMDb, and let you dig deeper into the movie you were watching on your Fire. Tapping on the screen would activate X-Ray, and would let you learn more about a cast member, like biography or filmography. The same feature now works with TV, and will work on the entire Kindle Fire family and also on the Wii U Amazon Instant Video app. While you don’t need X-Ray to enjoy a movie, it’s a cool feature that differentiates Amazon from the rest of the streaming crowd. The next time you want to download a new TV show and really get into it, maybe X-Ray will convince you to buy it from Amazon.
Google recently released the specs for Google Glass, its newest futuristic gadget. Glass will pair with any Bluetooth phone, but to get the full experience – including GPS and texting – you’ll need the free MyGlass companion app, which is currently only supported on Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean platforms. Google says the resolution of the images and video in Glass is like looking at a 25 inch HDTV from eight feet away. That’s pretty cool. Glass packs a 5 megapixel camera that also shoots 720p video, and features 16 GB of Flash storage built in that is automatically synced with Google Drive. The battery in Glass should last for about a day of typical use, but features like Google+ hangouts will drain the battery more quickly, just like they would on your phone. Glass also has a bone conduction transducer, which means you don’t need to wear earphones because sound will be transmitted to your inner ear through your skull. Sounds scary, but it’s safe … and very futuristic.
Apple TV is a really neat little device. Whether you want to stream your iTunes library to another room in your house or just have a tiny box that lets you watch Netflix or MLB.tv, it’s a relatively inexpensive way to add a little bit more media entertainment to just about any room. But like most technology, Apple TV isn’t without a few hiccups, and Apple recently confirmed that some of its newest, third-gen models have Wi-Fi issues, like not being able to find a network, not being able to connect to a network or frequent dropped connections. But if you’re impacted by this problem, have no fear! Apple confirmed that any owners with affected hardware are able to swap it out for a fully working replacement model.
2013 is the year of the Twitter hack. Having @BurgerKing hacked to promote McDonald’s food may be harmless and fun, but a recent hack showed just how dangerous the trend can be. Last week, the Associated Press’s Twitter account was hacked to send out a tweet that said President Obama was injured in an explosion at the White House. While the tweet was quickly taken down and the AP’s other Twitter handles began damage control, there were instant repercussions. The Dow dropped more than 100 points and President Obama’s aide had to issue a statement to say that Obama was okay. This goes to show that Twitter must implement two-step verification, which would add another layer of security to its accounts. When signing onto your account in a new location, in addition to your user name and password, you’d need to enter a code that Twitter will send to your phone. Google’s had it for a while now, and Microsoft just recently rolled it out. We’re waiting for you, Twitter.
T-Mobile just changed the way customers can buy new phones, and Verizon is following suit. Under a two-year contract, Verizon used to let you upgrade your phone after a mere 20 months. Verizon would re-up you for another two years, you’d get a shiny new toy … it was a win-win all around. But the company got rid of that early upgrade program and now requires you to wait a full two years before you’re eligible for a new discounted device. That doesn’t just apply to new contracts – any contract set to expire after January 1 of next year has had the extra four months tacked on. But Verizon also created a Device Payment plan for “some devices” it carries, letting customers buy a new device and spread that payment out over 12 months … plus an added $24 finance charge. Your monthly rate won’t go down in year two like it does on T-Mobile, but at least you’ll have more flexibility in upgrading your device.
Got some stuff lying around the house that you’re not using? Kill two birds with one stone by donating it to Goodwill and getting a bit of cash in return! Goodwill recently teamed up with eBay for a program called “Sell it Forward,” which lets you send items you don’t want any more to eBay in a postage-paid bag. eBay forwards your stuff to Goodwill in San Francisco, which then puts your goods up for auction. If they sell within two weeks, you get 50 percent of the final price. If no one wants your stuff? You get a receipt for tax deduction purposes. Goodwill seems most interested in fashion items like purses or clothing in new, like new or good condition. The program is currently only available in three California counties, but looks to expand its reach soon. It’s a win-win all around: you make a few bucks, clean out your closet and help charity. It’s all good.
What’s the best way to curtail crime in New York City? Give NYPD officers Android devices, of course! Over the past year, the New York Police Department gave out 400 Android smartphones to officers. The phones aren’t used to make or receive calls, but instead use a data connection and a custom app to look up arrest files, criminal histories, police photographs and even information from the DMV. The phones give officers quick access to look up anyone with an arrest warrant, police summons or other information they might need. How’s it work? An officer simply types in a street address in the app and all relevant information will pop up. Officers say they can use this information to notice arrest patterns and figure out crime hotspots they might want to spend extra time in. It’s a great example of New York’s Finest using technology to help them fight crime, and a great tool to help us succeed in a connected world.
It’s a rainy Saturday afternoon and you decide you can’t sit at home anymore, so you decide to go to see a movie. But as you turn to go, you see your puppy staring at you, sad you’re leaving him. What’s the solution? Turn on DogTV, coming soon on DirecTV. That’s right, the satellite TV provider will soon offer a channel with programming catering exclusively to dogs. In just a few short months, you’ll be able to fork over an extra six bucks a month to make sure your dog has something to watch at all times. So what does your six dollars get you? The channel will primarily show scenes with other animals as well as cartoons and a variety of moving objects. There will also be relaxation segments, in case your dog wants to meditate and find himself. What’s next for DogTV? The channel’s founder said that cats have been seen watching the footage as well, so CatTV isn’t out of the question. Me-ow.