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NEW YORK If you could build your dream smartphone, what would it look like? Now suppose you could put it together yourself.

That's the promise of modular design, a new concept in smartphones that would basically let you snap together different components like Lego blocks. Say you want a great camera. Snap! A vivid screen and good sound because you watch a lot of video? Snap! But maybe you could live with a smaller battery because you spend most of your day at home or work. Snap!

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 06:23

States weigh rules for new kind of slots

BOSTON It's like 'Guitar Hero' that pays you back, if you're any good.

At least, that's the pitch gambling regulators across the country are hearing as they consider whether to allow casinos to offer slot machines that mimic video and arcade games in an effort to attract younger gamblers.

The latest is Massachusetts, where the state Gaming Commission released draft regulations governing the new machines on Thursday.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 05:59

Tech toys abound at New York Toy Fair

NEW YORK From a preschool toy designed to teach pre-coding skills to a hands-on molecule-building set for older kids that works with an app, technology abounded at this year's Toy Fair.

The annual showcase of upcoming toys held recently in New York included a slew of tech-related products from the titans of the toy industry and tiny startups, all looking to attract increasingly tech-savvy kids.

Here are the highlights. Some of the toys are educational, while others are just kind of cool. All of them are set to go on sale this fall unless otherwise specified.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 11:34

Smartphone dating etiquette tips

U.S. Cellular offers tips on enhancing your love life using a smartphone this Valentine's Day

Dating has changed drastically over the years, and with the newest smartphones, such as the iPhone 6s or Samsung Galaxy S 6, users can find 'the one' right from the palm of their hand. The Pew Research Center reports 21 percent of cellphone owners in a committed relationship have felt closer to their spouse or partner because of exchanges they had online or via text message. However, finding and maintaining the connection can be difficult, so U.S. Cellular is offering Maine smartphone users etiquette tips to enhance their love lives this Valentine's Day.

'The latest mobile devices on a high-quality network can enhance relationships and keep couples connected more than ever before,' says Matt Kasper, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in New England. 'No matter where you are, you can rely on your mobile device to enhance positive relationships and keep connected to loved ones from your first date to your anniversary.'

Published in Tekk

It seems that every day a new technology is introduced, or there is something new our wireless devices can do for us. In 2016, the plethora of devices that go beyond smartphones and tablets will change the way business is conducted and simplify everyday tasks.

Jay Ellison, executive vice president of operations for U.S. Cellular, sees 2016 as the year Maine residents see the benefits of the significant advancements in technology that have occurred over the past few years.

'As we continue to rely on wireless technology more and more for business, entertainment, health monitoring and communications, the devices and how we use them will continue to evolve,' Ellison said. 'With strong networks and creative ways to use them, there is technology on the horizon that can connect us in ways never before possible, and I have never been more excited about where these innovations can take us.'

In the new calendar year, Ellison anticipates three trends in the wireless industry that you may be hearing a lot more about in 2016.

1. Internet of Things goes mainstream

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already changing the way businesses view assets, manage their systems, and handle transactions, and in 2016 it will introduce new possibilities and opportunities for both businesses and consumers. The global market for IoT devices is expected to reach $6.6 billion by the end of 2015 and nearly $49.2 billion by 2020, according to BCC Research.

The benefits of IoT for businesses are tangible and fast to recognize. Having a sensor on inventory that sends an alert to a smartphone if it is moved or being able to remotely monitor a crop to determine if it needs watering provide immediate time and cost savings. These examples just scratch the surface of what IoT can do.

"Almost any physical item or asset can be connected to the Internet of Things," said Ellison. 'At U.S. Cellular, we mainly see the technology used with businesses, but it can be leveraged in everyday life as well. From smart homes to connected cars, the consumer face of IoT is beginning to emerge.'

2. Wearable devices take off

With the introduction of the Apple Watch this past year, the popularity and sales of wearable devices went to another level. Sales of wearable technology worldwide increased nearly 200 percent in the last three months of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).

There is a wide range of choices in wearable technology functionality, ranging from the basic fitness tracking to a smartphone-like experience. In 2016, more businesses will take to the technology, especially those in primarily mobile industries and government agencies.

'While they have yet to become an essential device, we can safely assume that smartwatches are here to stay in 2016 and for many years to come,' said Ellison. 'As we add the Apple Watch to our portfolio along with current wearable devices from Samsung, Moto, Fitbit, Garmin and others, customers will be able to customize their choice to their exact need.'

3. Wallets stay at home

When Apple, Google, Samsung, Starbucks and Walmart all launched similar products the same year, it must be important. That is what happened in 2015, when those companies began making mobile payment options available to their customers.

In 2016, expect to see more people checking out at retail stores using only their smartphones, along with more retailers adapting to the technology. These mobile payment apps securely store payment information and utilize near-field communication, or NFC, to offer wireless payment through a merchant's payment terminal. For users, that means faster and easier payments and all transactions organized in one place.

'I expect mobile payments to someday be the norm,' said Ellison. 'With the technology coming to more retail outlets and a reliable network that covers you nationally, you can have a hassle-free shopping experience with your smartphone in no time.'

Published in Press Releases
Thursday, 04 October 2012 07:38

Text me, maybe'

Today, on an old fashioned land-line, my mother said to me, 'Do you know anything about this texting thing?' Preparing for a spiritual retreat, she anticipated being out of contact for a few days and wondered if texting could bridge the distance.

Unsure what she meant by 'this texting thing,' I asked her to clarify. 'Are you talking about using your cell phone to send a text message?' The ludicrousness of my expert position was not lost on me. Years ago, I posed this same question to my cell phone savvy students. I'm sure they found my texting trouble as laughable as I now found my mother's naivete.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 16:33

High-tech product announcements for fall

It's high season for consumer electronics. Apple, Nintendo and other manufacturers of various gadgets are unveiling their holiday lineups. Some products surrounding a new version of Windows are also coming out.

Published in Tekk
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