Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 30, 2014

“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” With those words and a few taps of her heels, Dorothy was on her way back to Kansas. While The Wizard of Oz is a movie, a company called iStrategyLabs wants to put you in Dorothy’s shoes – literally. A new wearable called ‘Dorothy’ lets you summon a car ride home by tapping your heels together. Ruby, a small clip you place on your shoe, communicates with your phone via Bluetooth. If Ruby’s built-in accelerometer senses you tap your heels together three times, it alerts the app, which then orders you a ride home. For now, Dorothy is nothing more than a prototype, and Ruby is too bulky to wear comfortably. But iStrategyLabs wants to make Dorothy a useful wearable, and is working to create smaller models of Ruby that would fit inside your shoe. If you want Dorothy, you’ll just have to wait – or find a wizard who is able to give you exactly what you want.

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 29, 2014

Your inbox can be an unruly place, where unread emails pile up and make you feel guilty about the things you need to do and the people you need to respond to. Google’s Gmail team felt your pain, so it launched an app called Inbox to help you take control of your email. Inbox is more of a personal assistant than an email app, as it separates the messages you receive into different Bundles. That means your order confirmations stay separate from your travel plans and your Facebook notifications. Inbox even lets you create custom Bundles through tags or by manually grouping messages. Inbox’s coolest feature, though, is Highlights. Just like in Google Now, Inbox grabs the most important info from each email and pulls it to the top. That means you’ll easily be able to find what time your flight is or when your Amazon package is going to be delivered. Inbox is a free app, but you need an invite to get access. To request an invite, head over to today.

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 28, 2014

Having kids can sometimes feel like owning a taxi service with some very loyal repeat customers. A San Francisco startup called Shuddle aims to relieve some of that burden with a service best described as “Uber for kids.” Shuddle is very similar to services like Uber or Lyft, but unlike those other ride-sharing companies, Shuddle is designed to drive kids around town, whether your kid needs a ride to school, soccer practice, a friend’s house or the mall. Shuddle wants parents to feel at ease, and has a very rigorous hiring process. Shuddle’s drivers are required to have childcare experience, pass a criminal background check and receive comprehensive training before hitting the road. Parents must schedule a pickup a day to a week in advance. Then, Shuddle passes along the driver’s full name, photo, bio and a vehicle description, along with the ability for parents to track the car’s progress in real time through its app. Shuddle is only available in the San Francisco area for now, but aims to eventually expand to other markets.

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 27, 2014

Spotify is awesome, but Spotify with a limited monthly data cap can become expensive. Unless you want a sky-high mobile bill, it’s important to limit the amount of music you stream to avoid going over your monthly cap. But how much data does a service like Spotify really use? Most songs on Spotify stream at 320kbps. That means that if you listen to an hour’s worth of Spotify, you’ll use up a little over 100 MB of data. If you expand that to a full eight-hour work day, that’s almost a full gigabyte of data. To avoid burning through your monthly cap this quickly, make sure to download tracks and playlists for offline playback or connect to a trusted Wi-Fi network whenever possible. If no safe networks are available, you could always stream Pandora, where streamed songs use only about a fifth the data as they would on Spotify. A final extreme solution would be switching over to T-Mobile, which offers free streaming music for Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and iTunes Radio.

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 24, 2014

At Apple’s iPad event last week, the company unveiled two new tablets: the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. The Air 2 is the best tablet Apple has ever made. The mini 3, however, is nearly identical in every way to the mini 2, except it now comes in gold and includes Touch ID. If you’ve been waiting to upgrade your tablet, the Air 2 is a great choice. The mini 3? Not so much. With the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus now available, the iPad mini has less of a place in the tech world than ever before. Size matters, though, and if you’re desperate to have a 7.9-inch device, the best bang for your buck is the iPad mini 2. Now starting at $299, the mini 2 is $100 less than the mini 3 and just as powerful. With five iPads to chose from, you have more choice than ever when buying a new Apple tablet. But spend smart: pick up an iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 2.

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 23, 2014

Do you know how easy it is to borrow e-books from your local library? Head to your library to check if they have a digital library, and make sure you have a valid library card. After linking your library card to their digital library, you’ll be able to browse selections on your computer, Android or iDevice. If your library uses Overdrive, the most popular service for U.S. libraries, books that show up with a solid black book icon are available, while gray icons mean that title is checked out. To borrow a book, tap the icon and choose Borrow. The title shifts to your bookshelf and is ready for download. If a book you want is checked out, tap the book icon then tap Place a Hold. This gets your name on the waiting list, and you’ll get an email when the title is ready to check out. Best of all, if you’re reading with a Kindle or Kindle app on your device, you can manage your library books through your Amazon account. Happy reading!

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 22, 2014

Amazon Fresh has made its way to the East Coast. Amazon Fresh, the company’s grocery delivery business, has been operating in Seattle and parts of California, but has now opened up shop in Brooklyn. Park Slope, Amazon’s first stop in Brooklyn before expanding to other neighborhoods, is a perfect place to start. Predominantly populated with young professional families, the area is likely to have a large number of Amazon customers. Customers in Park Slope can get Amazon Fresh’s same-day delivery on all orders placed before 10 a.m., while orders placed after 10 a.m. will be delivered the next day. While its focus is groceries, Amazon Fresh isn’t exclusively a food delivery service. Other items, including electronics and toys, are also available for same-day delivery. Any Amazon Prime members in Park Slope will be able to try out Amazon Fresh for free for the rest of the year, without having to pay an additional fee. Starting in 2015, however, those customers will have to upgrade to the $299 Prime Fresh program to keep using the service.

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 21, 2014

HBO recently announced it will offer its service in Web-only format, meaning anyone can subscribe to HBO to watch its programming, even without a pay TV subscription. For years, HBO and its parent company Time Warner have been content to offer HBO exclusively as a part of pay TV packages. But with Netflix and its 50 million subscribers set to generate more revenue than HBO this year, the time has come to change things up. The day after HBO made its announcement, CBS launched a similar subscription package called ‘All Access,’ giving anyone the ability to view a live stream of their local CBS affiliate for $5.99 per month. ESPN has also announced plans to offer select NBA games to digital subscribers sometime in the next few years. While cord-cutters can rejoice, there are still big questions about HBO’s new subscription plan. How much will it cost? When will it launch? Will it be the same as HBO on TV? We’ll find out the answers to all of these questions soon enough. 

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 20, 2014

Apple’s first major update to iOS 8, version 8.1, is available today as an over-the-air download and adds a handful of great features. The most notable addition is Apple Pay, which lets you store credit card info in your phone to help you easily make purchases through select apps and at select retailers. iOS 8.1 also signals the triumphant return of the Camera Roll. After re-designing the Photos app for iOS 8, Apple said many customers complained about the changes, so Camera Roll is making its way back to your iDevice. Today’s update also adds in a public beta of iCloud Photo Library, which syncs your photos and edits across all your Apple devices. iCloud Photo Library syncs your first 5 GB of photos for free, with additional storage available for a fee. The final major addition is Continuity, which lets you start tasks on one device and finish them on another – and also lets you answer phone calls on your Mac. iOS 8.1 is available very soon or now as an over-the-air download.

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 17, 2014

While tablets can do just about anything you’d want them to do, few accessories push the limits of these devices even further. A new transparent film designed by Microsoft called FlexSense looks to change that. The film has thin sensors printed on its surface, and is designed to lay over tablets and e-readers to offer new forms of interaction. When you move, bend or deform the film, your device detects and translates those changes without needing any extra hardware, like cameras or external trackers. The researchers that developed FlexSense think it’ll be used to add new methods of interaction to existing apps, instead of requiring a new suite of programs. For example, say you’re editing a photo on your tablet. Peeling back the film could roll back the edits you’ve made, revealing the original image. For e-readers, peeling the film could be like flipping back or forward in a book or magazine. There’s no word how long it’ll be until we see FlexSense available to the public, but its possibilities are very exciting.

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 16, 2014

You may not know this, but Siri loves music. Siri has always been able to let you play tracks, albums or genres through voice commands. But with iOS 8, Siri can do even more. Siri is now able to rate songs in your music collection. While a song is playing, you can tell Siri, “Rate this song 5 stars.” This action briefly pauses the music, but it helps organize your library and sets up future playlists, so you can tell Siri to play all songs you’ve rated five stars. Siri’s also able to identify any song you’re listening to. Thanks to Shazam integration, you can now ask Siri, “What song is playing?” or “Name that tune, Siri!” and it will identify the track and artist. It’s nothing your phone couldn’t do before, but it saves you the time and trouble from having to unlock your device, open Shazam and identify a song. A quicker response time means you’ll always know exactly what song that was, so you can get on with your day.

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 15, 2014

GoPro’s cameras are awesome devices, but not all of us are action sports superstars. HTC’s newest product, a standalone digital camera called The Re, is for the rest of us living our normal lives. The Re, which looks sort of like a miniature periscope, pairs with Android and iOS smartphones and aims to make taking pictures and videos quicker and easier than using your smartphone. The Re has a minimal design, with two buttons and a couple of LED lights. There’s no need for a viewfinder, display or user interface – everything is managed through your phone. This lack of features means The Re is able to focus on what matters: its 16 MP sensor and ultra-wide lens. It’s more comfortable to hold and shoot with than a GoPro, and its solid design, slim form factor and waterproof case mean it’s easy to bring anywhere you go. But will anyone want to spend $200 on an add-on camera? We’ll find out later this year, when The Re hits store shelves in the US for $199.

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 14, 2014

If you’ve ever wished you could visit in the real world, you’ll soon get your chance. The online superstore recently announced plans to open its first physical store on 34th Street in Manhattan for the Holiday 2014 season. Amazon has talked about opening physical locations before, but this is the first time it’s followed through. The location, which is situated across the street from the Empire State Building, will give shoppers a place to buy holiday gifts, while also doubling as a billboard for and a mini-warehouse for same day deliveries in New York City. The store will also serve as a pick-up location for orders, as well as a place to return orders you made online. Amazon hasn’t announced what types of products it plans to show off in the location, but it’s safe to assume you can expect a lot of Amazon’s hardware staples, like the Fire Phone, Kindle Voyage and Fire tablets. After all, who can make Amazon’s products more appealing than Amazon employees?

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 13, 2014

Microsoft recently unveiled Windows 10, which will soon power all of its computers, tablets and smartphones. But Microsoft didn’t show off all the cool nooks and crannies of its next OS. Here are some of the best bits kept secret. Notifications have never been unified or prominent within Windows, but that’s about to change. Dropbox, for example, has prominent pop-ups in the upper-right corner of the screen showing synced and updated files. Windows Explorer is also getting a Windows 10 update that makes it easier to use. You can now easily pin your Recycle Bin to your taskbar, which has never been an easy task in the past. The OS also features a new “Home” section in Explorer that displays folders you’ve designated as your Favorites, as well as frequently-used folders and recent files. Speaking of files, Windows 10 brings back the File History feature of Windows 8, which was basically like OS X’s Time Machine for Windows. Right-click on any file and click Properties to see the previous versions of any updated document.

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 10, 2014

While Netflix has thousands of movies available to stream, its original content has focused on TV series, comedy specials and documentaries. A couple of recent high-profile deals, however, are set to change all that. Netflix recently acquired exclusive worldwide rights to four upcoming movies produced by and starring Adam Sandler. While Sandler's recent films haven't won over many critics' hearts, they've almost all been worldwide box office smashes. For those with more sophisticated tastes, Netflix also reached a deal with The Weinstein Company to produce a sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” which is set to hit Netflix and IMAX theaters on the same day next August. Not everyone is happy about these deals, though, and theater chains like Regal, AMC and Cinemark, are all refusing to screen the film. As movie theaters struggle to find ways to keep their seats full, companies like Netflix continue to up-end the status quo. The big winner in all of this is us, as we now have more ways to watch new movies than ever before. 

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 9, 2014

GoPro recently unveiled a new line of action cameras that are better than ever. GoPro’s new top of the line camera, the $500 Hero4 Black, can shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second and 1080p video at 120 frames per second. Its built-in processor is twice as fast as its predecessor, and it features a new interface for easier menu browsing. The GoPro Hero4 Silver costs $100 less than the Black, but still includes many of its high-end features. It’s able to shoot 4K video, though only at 15 frames per second. But the Silver’s signature feature is its touchscreen display, which means you’ll be able to see exactly what you’ve shot without having to connect to a smartphone. The most exciting new GoPro camera may be its cheapest yet; the $130 GoPro Hero is still able to shoot 1080p video without breaking the bank. All three cameras, as always, are waterproof, and all three are available today to become the perfect complement to your active lifestyle. 

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 8, 2014

Want to train your brain? All you’ve got to do is play some Portal 2. A recent study conducted at Florida State University concluded that the 2011 video game was more effective at training participants’ brains than Lumosity, a cognitive training program designed to improve memory, reasoning and problem-solving skills. The study had 77 participants play either eight hours of Portal 2 or eight hours of Lumosity. Before and after the gaming session, each subject was given a series of tests to gauge performance in three areas: problem solving, spatial skill and persistence. So what did the study find? The people who played Portal 2 showed increased performance in all three areas. Those subjects also saw significant boosts on spatial tests, an improvement that wasn’t seen in the group that played Lumosity. While the sample size was small and the study only pitted Portal 2 against one other program, the results are a great defense for anyone tired of being told that video games are rotting away their brains. 

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 7, 2014

Microsoft recently unveiled the future of all of its devices when it announced Windows 10. The brand new operating system looks a lot more like Windows 7 than 8, but combines the best of both of those worlds. Gone is the Windows 8 Start Screen that hid your desktop. Those live tiles aren’t gone, though, because Windows 10 lets you add them to your Start Menu, which is back in full force and totally customizable to be whatever you want it to be. Windows 10 also lets you mix and match new and legacy apps across multiple windows and multiple desktops, letting you use whichever version you’re more comfortable with. The technical preview of Windows 10 is available now, but the full version won’t be widely available until sometime next year. Microsoft said it plans to make Windows 10 able to run on a “vast majority of devices,” so keep an eye out for its launch next year if you’re eager to upgrade to the latest and greatest. 

Shelly Palmer Radio Minute - October 6, 2014

For all the variety that Netflix offers in its programming, its pre-stream browsing can be a little bland. A new Chrome extension called Flix Plus aims to improve that experience and make sure the next movie you watch is a great one.  One of Flix Plus’s biggest improvements is cleaning up Netflix’s suggestions. You know those rows of movies and shows Netflix suggests when you first fire up the app? Flix Plus lets you hide shows you’ve watched or rated, as well as those listed multiple times. You can also hide entire sections that don’t interest you at all. Flix Plus also hides spoiler images and text for TV episodes, helping make sure each episode is a surprise. For holdouts still using the “My List” page, Flix Plus adds improved sorting controls, more expiration warnings and a box that lets you write why you added that movie to your queue in the first place. To improve your Netflix experience, grab Flix Plus for free in the Chrome Web Store today.

Shelly Palmer Radio Report - October 3, 2014

AT&T recently sweetened its low-cost internet and TV package by throwing in Amazon Prime for free. Aimed at cord-cutters looking to avoid an expensive monthly TV bill, AT&T’s “skinny” bundle packages broadband internet, some basic TV channels and HBO for about $40 per month. But AT&T recently upped the ante by tossing in the complete Prime experience at no extra charge – that means free two-day shipping, plus Amazon’s Instant Video, Kindle Owners Lending Library and more. Don’t expect this kind of deal to last forever – the promotion is only valid for 12 months of service. After the first year, your $40 monthly fee will get bumped up to a more conventional number. But as AT&T and other companies try to convince cord-cutters and other non-subscribers to become invested in watching live TV again, adding in extra perks like an Amazon Prime subscription may help push people over the top. Whether those subscribers stick around after the first year remains to be seen, but it sure is a sweet deal while it lasts.