Amazon Show, A Shift In How The Elderly Communicate With Us

Recently Amazon announced the Show. It’s an Echo (you know, Alexa) in a box that sits on a counter top with a screen and camera. This may not sound like a big deal but it is. This is the future of hands free computing and potentially a shift in how we communicate with our closest family and friends.

For anyone with any version of Alexa in a contraption at home like an Echo or a Dot, the tower speaker or hockey puck you already know how convenient it can be if you ever use it. As a family we use it for music constantly, my kids use it for the weather every morning. I use it for it’s timer and to tell me how many tablespoons of sugar is in something. It’s kind of like the computer in StarTrek.

Up to now we just communicated with Alexa to garner information most of the time, I’ve never ordered paper towels from it. With the new Show there will be a new form of communicating. Gone are the days of picking up your iPhone to FaceTime with Mom. Gone are the days of having to walk to your bedroom from the kitchen to get your phone to text your besty. Now Alexa will do this all for us, hands free. I could go on about that part for a while but I won’t. What I want to focus on is the FaceTime esque video calling but with 1 single bonus feature and it’s a doozy. Drop In. With this feature you can allow your closest family and friends to video call you without waiting for you to pick up. It automatically connects.

Drop In would be an issue if you added everybody to your Drop In only list but you would probably only add your mom, sister, kids and grandkids. It’s not for your racket ball partner or your kids tutor. Obviously this isn’t a feature you would want activated in your bedroom but it’s probably ok for the kitchen or living room as long as you don’t prance around naked, even if mom has seen it all before.

Where this is really going to be helpful is with the non smartphone owning or less then tech savvy grandparents and kids. I finally see a future where kids can check in on their aging parent even if the parent doesn’t know how to answer the funny looking TV on the counter. I finally see parents able to video chat with their kids while the parent is away and the kid may not already have an iPad.

Stop a minute and take it all in. No more need to text your spouse before FaceTiming with the kids at bedtime when you’re away on business. No more wishing Grandma knew how to use that iPad Mini you got her for her birthday that sits collecting dust except the rare times you call her first to tell her to pick it up and unsuccessfully attempt to explain how to answer it… If it’s even charged.

This is a huge thing for a generation that didn’t grow up with color TV and cordless phones, they grew up on a radio and party line phones. This will be a shift in their communicating with their kids and grandkids. There will be a lot of Amazon Show’s that have blue tape with the word Alexa written in Sharpie on it so they can remind themselves how to activate it. Amazon has a long way to go with this and will need a cheaper second generation Show but for the moment they control the future of this medium.

Cheaper Plans And Perks Are Going To Be Hot

Lately a lot of people are talking about switching to lower rate plans including the prepaid and postpaid plans. I started doing a little research and found that AT&T (who is my current carrier) recently started offering some interesting price options. I’ve been looking into them and feel like it’s time to share, there’s only 1 problem… I can’t find the pricing online. I saw it once on my computer and 2 or 3 times in the AT&T app but can’t find it any longer. I don’t think it’s something they’re taking away, I am assuming they’re kind of soft launching these or testing them out before making the plans more accessible.

AT&T as usual is moving in the right direction but not very fast and not with a lot of power behind it.

I think the lower cost data plans usually with X amount of 4G then dropping down to 2G or 3G speeds is going to become a very popular pricing option in the next year or 2. MOST people don’t need UNLIMITED 4G and many don’t even need 10GB. I believe most families can get away with 5-6GB/month, not including teenagers. Teens skew that.

Either way, low cost data is going to be the future. Side note, I think adding perks like 2 free GoGo airplane wifi passes/month or a discount on pro sports tickets it’s a great way to differentiate yourself from the competitors. Just making a suggestion to all the carriers out there.

Simultaneous Voice & Data is a MUST

Frustration abounds for Sprint customers. Still in January of 2017 Sprint, who would like to be considered one of the big players in mobile for the US still uses some antiquated technology. Through my investigation and research it is a widely known fact that Sprint customers can NOT utilize data like surfing the web, sending iMessages or uploading pictures while they are on the phone.

As I call out Sprint on this shortcoming lest we forget the company they are within 1% of (according to Sprint commercials) Verizon doesn’t support voice and data either on many of their older phones.

Sprint though is the center of my disgust today because as far as I can tell even their newest devices don’t support voice and data. Research shows me that this is a hardware issue on the side of the consumer, Sprint doesn’t purchase phones that have the correct antenna array. Additionally Sprint doesn’t offer Voice Over LTE yet which is the other key piece, this is on the infrastructure side. I could be wrong about either part of this, Sprint doesn’t like to publish much data about their shortcomings.

From experiences of the people I interviewed about this they are all frustrated. One a general contractor let’s call Andrew, can’t send pictures or videos to his customers showing updates to work he’s done while he’s on the phone with them. Andrew wants to show the owner of the piece of property the headway he’s making on a remodel but can’t because Spring doesn’t support being on a phone call and using a data plan at the same time. Nathan a Hollywood businessman and another Sprint customer can’t send or receive emails or iMessages while on the phone with his business partner. They found a hack which is having to talk over FaceTime Voice which is using data so he can then receive text/email.

The funny thing is both gentlemen want to leave Sprint specifically for this reason but they’ve both been customers for so many years that they feel some sort of obligation to suffer. This is a crazy antiquated notion in my opinion and it’s time to jump ship and get on a carrier that allows them to use their phones to their fullest capacity.

What do you think? Are  you a Sprint or Verizon customer who doesn’t want to leave out of loyalty? Have you already jumped ship and gone to a different carrier?

AT&T Is Waking Up To International Roaming

I just read that AT&T is coming out with a new international roaming plan tomorrow. On the surface this seems to be a positive move.

Keep in mind I don’t know any details about this yet but it’s supposedly $10/day to use your regular bucket of data/text/voice. Meaning if you have unlimited voice and text with 10gb of data you can act as normal when abroad if you’re paying the $10/day fee plus it will be at 4G speeds. This seems like a good deal for short trips and lay overs or for heavy data users. Don’t forget that you already get free calls and text (I think), though I’m not sure about the data in Canada and Mexico.

For folks who don’t use much data the AT&T Passport  roaming plan may be a better bet.

As a whole this is a step in the right direction but I’m not sure it’s a big enough step for regular international travelers. T-Mobile and Sprint both offer free roaming at 2G and 3G speeds which is OK. I know AT&T is out of T-Mobile and Sprint’s league but I would have liked to see a more competitive plan or additional offers like $40-$50/month.

Keep up the good work AT&T, you’re doing the right things to keep me as a customer, just keep moving in this direction.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Review

I was very excited when AT&T asked me to join them at Hurricane Harbor to “test” the recently launched (yup, I’m very late to publish this) Samsung Galaxy S7 Active.
We were a small group at the water park but we made a big splash. Thank you AT&T for the fun day and the oppourtunity to review this phone.


The water park was fun but fast forward 2 months (see how late this really is…) and I took a family vacation with my wife and 2 kids. We went to Hawaii and spent a week being tourists. Every day we were swimming, snorkeling or just being lazy in the water. I am an iPhone guy, it has it’s benefits for me personally but I was using the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active a lot during this vacation. I took it into the ocean to play in the surf, the pool taking underwater selfies with my kids and videos of them on the hotels water slide and I even took it snorkeling, where I new it wasn’t very deep so if I dropped it I could retrieve it. That’s my one compliant about the phone, it needs to have the ability to attach a wrist strap or something like that.


Now to talk about the other details… It’s not small, it’s not thin and it’s not graceful but darn it this thing was amazing. I loved knowing I had a rugged phone in my pocket, not my dainty iPhone. The Active felt good in the hand, the battery lasted the day while I was using it for maps, keeping on top of my email and taking a LOT of pictures/videos.
For me having 1 device that was my phone and camera is great but it’s what most people expect in this day and age and Samsung didn’t disappoint. I’m not a camera aficionado but I think the Active takes better pictures then my iPhone 6S in that the colors pop more. I don’t know if that’s the phone enhancing the pictures for me but I don’t care, I was taking pictures underwater.
That’s it, it’s a Samsung Android phone, big whoop but it is if you have kids or live an active lifestyle. I’ve reviewed LifeProof cases before and they are great but there’s nothing like having a phone built to be tough. If you are a weekend warrior or have kids who seem to spill liquids or drop your phone then this phone is for you.
The holidays are coming and I can promise you that I would be stoked to get one of these as a gift. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Active is exclusive to AT&T so go get it there.

Lifeproof Fre for the iPhone 6/6S

Lifeproof Fre 6S BlueI’ve given Lifeproof a lot of love over the years because I’ve always liked their products and this review will be no different. So if you just want to know if I like it or not then YES go buy your Fre case.

I’ve had the Lifeproof Fre for a month or 2 now and have really come to enjoy it. I usually do not put such a bulky case on my phones but as summer is coming I wanted to write about a waterproof case. AT&T was nice enough to furnish me with this and boy has it useful. I’m a semi outdoorsy kind of guy so since I got the case and put it on my phone I’ve taken it sailing (got it wet), kayaking (dropped it in sand and water) and to the beach (it was in my trunks and got wet and my hands were sandy using it). As you can see I like water related activities so I’m really looking forward to the summer.

This Fre case has come a long way since it’s predecessor for the iPhone 6 was released. That case was great except for 1 thing, it’s charging port was to small to fit anything besides Apple chargers. The new iPhone 6S case has solved that for the most part. All but 1 of my charging cables now fit through the port.

The Fre case feels great in the hand and isn’t slippery at all. I have no problem hearing people through the case and they can hear me back whether it’s on speaker phone or regular talking mode. I like the look of the case though that never changes from year to year.

My only wish is that they would include a spot to attach a leash, lanyard, string or whatever else you may call it.

All in all, go buy one for the summer, it’s $80 of insurance that your $700 phone won’t get ruined.

Helping CA Become the 1st State to Reach 250,000 EVs on the Road

It’s stuff like this that makes me proud to write about AT&T so often.ATT Drive 1

Today, hundreds of AT&T employees in California were among the first to test-drive certain electric cars as part of a statewide education initiative led by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative (PEV Collaborative) to help California become the first state to reach 250,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of the year. During the event, PEV Collaborative Executive Director Christine Kehoe announced the DRIVE THE DREAM Ride-and-Drive Summer Celebration. California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Mary Nichols gave an update on California’s electric vehicle (EV) market. AT&T California President Ken McNeely asked all 36,000 AT&T employees statewide to consider purchasing an electric vehicle and encouraged them to take advantage of an average of $3279 in savings through employee discounts programs offered by the company.

ATT Drive 2

Mobile Casino Games – No More Downloads Needed

 

We’ve come a long way since the first introduction of slots machines in the 20th century. Gaming as a whole has become a worldwide phenomenon, and thanks to the internet and lately, the inclusion of the smartphone in our everyday lives, it is more accessible than ever.

There are several big leaps in casino games that we can mention – the first was Microgaming’s foray into the world of online casino games, followed by the inclusion of instant play casinos, and finally the “minimization” of casino games in the form of casino apps on mobile devices.

There are literally thousands of different casino apps, some supported by the big online casino brands and others, that emulate the experience for free and are available for download on Google’s Play Store. You can browse through some of the biggest names and most excellent app offer at AndroidCasinoApps.org, specifically tailored for Android devices.

Horiz Tablet

Like we mentioned before, the biggest leap in online casino gaming seems to be, apart from the obvious improvements in graphics, games variety and quality, bonus features and others, the accessibility of said games.

If we compare online casinos of the 90’s with those of the late 2000’s, we will notice that “instant play” is a much more sought out alternative. Players no longer need to download software to be able to play their favorite games – they only need to log in, and start playing.

Horiz casino

This in itself caused some problems since now sites need to support other technologies in order to render games in a browser. The same technology was adopted to mobile gaming as well, since Flash was still “the thing” back then, however it made the market separated due to Apple and its policy of not supporting Flash. This of course changed with the introduction of HTML5 – the 5th iteration of the most popular hyper text markup language. HTML5 made it possible for casino app developers to create instant play games available on the Play Store as well as the official websites of the casinos.

Instant play nowadays is pretty much a standard – all you ever need is the latest version of your mobile OS to be able to access the online casino. If you are not fan of mobile casino apps, you can play your favorite games by typing in the casino’s URL into the mobile browser and a responsive web page will be displayed where you will be able to play instant play games at your leisure.

Thanks to Google’s Chrome mobile browser, you can even create shortcut to your favorite mobile casino which you can then start up from the native screen of your Android powered mobile device.

Overall it is a powerful feature which grants you unlimited and unrestricted functionality that is also unhindered by the occasional update. Still, you will need to be connected to the internet in order to be able to play so it is a feature mostly desired by the casino players who play for real money.

Online Casino for Android – Safe Gaming Tips

Mobile gaming is constantly flourishing. Online casinos are continuously taking advantage of the booming mobile market by developing, upgrading and updating their apps and expanding upon the feature palette with better games, more bonuses and other incentives. We are talking about excellent apps such as Casino App Kings which you can check out for the latest offering of casino games and more.

With that being said, now more than ever is safety and security important for players who plan on spending their quality time (and money) on their mobile, Android powered device. Android is undoubtedly the most widely used mobile OS on the market and there are literally dozens of different versions available at once. Combine this with the many different smartphone and tablet manufacturers and what you get – a very real and existing danger of either being hacked or exploited by various malicious software. All is not lost however, especially if you follow these simple tips that will allow for a safe, secure and enjoyable mobile casino gaming.

Android Pic

 

  1. Use an antivirus / antimalware software

All right this is a given. The reason is quite simple – an antivirus is your first line of defense. Maybe you won’t spot a dodgy link, email or something that tries to embed itself into your phone’s OS and take advantage of your credit card info. A good mobile antivirus will also offer extended protection while downloading apps, checking for updates and also, check for additionally installed programs that are part of some online bundles (some of these contain malware which can be very harmful for your device).

  1. Be extra careful when using free WI-FI

Imagine the next scenario – you are at the airport / coffee shop / bus stop, i.e. any place where you have to wait for an extended period of time and you get quickly bored. Lo and behold, you whip out your smartphone or tablet and you decide to play a round of slots or roulette, and luckily there’s an open WI-FI connection. Little did you know, you have actually connected to someone’s setup connection who is now downloading all your data and stealing your personal info. Now he can impersonate you and even do stuff which you can normally do with your phone. That is why you should choose the open Hot Spot very, very carefully. Beware hotel lobbies as well.

  1. Update your device regularly

This goes without saying but keeping your software up to date means you get better protection in itself when dealing with some software attacks. Google updates their Android platform with a ton of fixes on performance but also security, especially in light of recent attacks on mobile devices. As a casino player, this means you will also benefit from smoother game play and faster loading screens.

Horizontal devices

  1. Never store your credit card info on your phone

Another basic tip which many (MANY) people often forget. This is something which is too simple yet leaves you so exposed. Starting from the obvious scenarios of losing the device or having it stolen, to the above mentioned WI-FI piggyback to visiting a website that has an infected software waiting to leech of off your device… so just keep your credit card info either stored safely or use it only when playing. It is just not worth the risk.

  1. Download trusted apps

If you are on the lookout for the next best casino app, make sure to either check what’s on offer at the Play Store (for casuals) or at the recommended casino sections on reputable casino reviewers. It is a very bad idea to just go for the first app you find since you can most definitely end up being scammed for your credit card details.

 

Five Most Popular Casino Games in the Apple Store

Sponsored Post… We gotta keep the lights on:

Finding the ideal app on the App Store can be a real chore (and no, the rime was not intended). Indeed there are literally hundreds of casino apps, all with similar sounding names, all offering the best premium Vegas experience on your iPhone or iPad. Some are free, some are paid, but all show the promise of an excellent time playing your favorite slots, table games, video poker and more.

We have scoured the far reaches of the App Store to bring you the top 5 picks that deserve your attention. A part of them are those who have hundreds of thousands of downloads, yet some are just great on their own and don’t rely on fancy numbers. You can also check out our list for best mobile casinos that you can visit on your mobile device. Now then, let’s check out our picks:

iphone charge

Solitaire

All right, we are cheating a bit with this one but come on – it is a cards game and one of the most popular one of all time. Solitaire on iTunes isn’t your average card game app however – it is packed full of awesome features which take full advantage of the device you are using to play it on. It has Daily Challenges included for the adventurous types, theme packs for the collectors, a multiplayer version, winning deals, leader boards where you can brag and compete with others, support for portrait and landscape play, Vegas Scoring, full blown statistics and more. It is truly the ultimate card gaming app.

DoubleDown Casino & Slots

With over 80 widely different authentic Vegas themed games, DoubleDown casino & Slots is an app that will have you tapping away endlessly. There’s a huge variety of 5 and 3 reel slots with many bonus features, excellent graphics and incentives are being added regularly. You get 1 million of free chips which you can double if you claim the daily bonus. You can play against real players or the CPU and you can use your Facebook profile to log in and share chips with your friends. There’s even a tournament setup for competitive types, all mobile friendly.

Slotomania Casino

This is the biggest casino app on the App Store, period. There are over 100 different slots and games such as American Glory, Zeus, Lucky Derby and many more which you can play instantly. It is a great collection of casino titles which look great and run even better on any iOS powered device. The app itself is a great starting platform since it also includes a free coin bonus (goes up every 3 hours, new mini games, special promotions for competitive players as well as ton of in-game bonuses that are either specific for a given game or cater to all of them.

 

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Slots Free Casino House of Fun

Yet another great casino app with which you can access a ton of great casino picks like slots, table games and more. You will find some of the fan favorites like Egypt, Diamonds, Big Cats or Mystic Bear. There’s even the inclusion of progressive slots as well as the constant addition of new games being added on a monthly basis. If you are one of them competitive players, you can check out the constant stream of promotions, gifts and other rewards.

Slots – Huuuge Casino

With a rather peculiar name, this app is quite interesting to boot when you consider the unique games you will find filling its game rooster. There are a ton of slots, of course, which feature both the classic and video variety, though what we fell in love with were the classic representations for modern audiences of Blackjack, Roulette, Video Poker and Baccarat. They are keeping the line up fresh by adding new games regularly, and have organized bonuses and other fun additions for players who stick around and play.