Month: November 2014

Scan business cards into Evernote for Android without upgrading

Love the free version of Evernote, but want a taste of the new premium features? Check out this quick way to activate the business card scanning feature for free.



Nicole Cozma/CNET

Evernote for Android has been trailing the iOS version when it comes to new features, like the ability to scan business cards. Being able to scan a card is useful because it syncs to your account, you won’t have to keep track of a paper card, and it saves you time by doing the typing for you.

Fortunately, the latest update to Evernote 6.2 grants premium users on Android access to business card scanning. As a bonus, if you are a free user and have a LinkedIn account, you can try this feature free for one year. Here’s how.


Evernote’s new note menu.
Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 1: Open the Evernote app on your Android device and tap the new button in the lower right-hand corner. Select the Camera function and then swipe to the Business Card option on the far right.

Step 2: You’ll see a prompt that says you need to upgrade to Premium in order to use the feature. Under that will be a link to connect your LinkedIn account, so you can try business card scanning free for one year. Put in your details to authorize a connection and you’ll be able to use the scanning feature immediately.


The scanning feature was able to pick up all of the details; they’ve just been edited for privacy.
Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 3: For best results, you should place any business card you want to scan on a contrasting surface. Then, just tap the screen to focus, and then the camera icon to snap the photo. Evernote will automatically parse the data to create a contact note.

Note: The scanning feature is not yet able to differentiate between phone and fax numbers. As a workaround, if you don’t need the fax number you can delete it to avoid confusion later.

After you review the data, you can add the details to the contacts on your phone or scan another card. Scanned business cards will be titled by contact name followed by “Business Card” in your Evernote account. The contact notes also include shortcuts for calling and texting, if you don’t want to add someone to your personal address book on the device.

Buying Guide: Fitness tracker deals: how to save big on fitness trackers this holiday season

After you’ve gorged yourself on the turkey and pies, it’s time to get fit! What’s the best thing to get you out of bed and on the run towards a healthy heart? Fitness trackers.

Fitness trackers have been notorious for being a bit on the pricey side so take advantage of these amazing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

We’ve created this handy list of the best fitness tracker deals around so you can get the jump on some post-Thanksgiving shopping without having to aimlessly push and shove too much.

Fitbit deals

There are a three types of Fitbits now, and they’re all on sale. The original Fitbit Flex is going for $69 from Walmart come Friday.

Best Buy will likely have the Flex on sale as well, though right now they’re all priced between $99-$149.

Target will have the Fitbit Charge for $100 – saving you about $30.

Misfit deals

The Misfit Flash and Misfit Shine are slightly less known but still remain popular fitness wearables.

Target is offering the Misfit Flash for only $25 – that’s 50% off the original price! While you’re at it, the Misfit Shine is $79.99 from Target – and was previously $99.

Best Buy hasn’t started its Black Friday deal yet, but the Flash will also be $25 this week and the Shine $79.

If you’re walking in to stores (good luck) you’ll find that Walmart will also have the Misfit Flash and Shine for the prices mentioned above.

Jawbone UP24 deals

The Jawbone UP24 is one of the smartest and sportiest fitness trackers you can get.

There are also three sizes you can choose from and right now, and Best Buy has the medium Jawbone UP24 on sale for $122. The large and small wearables are retailing for $129.

You can also get a black Jawbone UP24 from Target for $149 or a white Jawbone for $129.

White and black too boring? You can find more colors of the UP24 from Amazon for $107-$169.

Nike FuelBand SE deals

The Nike FuelBand SE remains a popular fitness tracker and slightly cheaper than the other fitness wearables out there.

The FuelBand SE is $99 from Best Buy and comes in a variety of sizes.

For more sizing options and color choices, Amazon has the FuelBand SE for $102.00 – $378.15.

Samsung Gear Fit deals

The Samsung Gear Fit is also a neat little fitness tracker. It has the ability of your run-of-the-mill trackers but with the added bonus of a lovely curved screen.

You can pick up the Gear Fit from Target for $149.99 with free shipping.

It’s also $149.99 from Best Buy with free shipping.

Walmart has it for a slightly higher price right now at $170.99.

Amazon has it listed at the lowest price yet: $126.99.

Fund this: Smart earplugs promise a better night’s sleep

Having already blasted past its fundraising goal, this smartphone-controlled sleep aid is now working toward stretch goals.

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Hush

I’m an earplug convert. In recent years, I’ve discovered that foam earplugs can deliver sleep salvation, not only when I’m traveling, but also in my own bed.

However, foam alone offers little help against snoring, loud voices, barking dogs, and certain other sounds. Thus I’m pretty jazzed about Kickstarter project Hush, which combines foam-based noise blocking with in-ear speakers. The result: the world’s first “smart” earplugs.

If you’re familiar with noise-cancelling headphones, you might think these are more or less the same thing, just shrunk down to earplug size and set free from wires. But there’s no active noise-cancellation at work here; instead, the earplugs are like a pair of tiny MP3 players preloaded with noise-masking sounds.

These include not just the sounds you’d normally find in a white-noise app — babbling brook, ocean waves, thunderstorm, and so on — but also binaural beats, which can actually help induce sleep.

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Can these really be comfortable, especially for a side-sleeper?
Hush

Meanwhile, there’s an app (for Android and iOS) that lets you choose the sound you want and configure various settings, such as which notifications are allowed through. Equally important, it lets you set alarms, thereby overcoming a problem inherent to ordinary earplugs. (As an added bonus, your alarm won’t awaken your partner, as only you’ll be able to hear it.)

At first blush, Hush raises a bunch of questions, at least for me — but that hasn’t stopped backers from demolishing the $100,000 funding goal. It’s already past $200,000, with nearly a month left to go.

Even so, I’d have a hard time backing this without knowing two things. First, how well does it really work at blocking outside noise? And, second, will it mash too far into my ear when I sleep on my side? Comfort is a key concern.

So is price: at around $150, this is not an inexpensive product (though early backers can still get in for $115, or $199 for two pairs). They ship anywhere in the world, and the US early price of $115 converts to around £75 or AU$135.

But I’m definitely intrigued. I love the little sliding-drawer charging case, which reminds me of the one Motorola uses for the
Moto Hint
headset. And it definitely appears to solve the problem associated with most smartphone-powered sleep aids: the need for wired and/or bulky earphones.

Your thoughts?

Industry voice: How BYOD can reduce operating costs

One aspect of BYOD that is not often discussed is its potential to reduce operating costs.

You would expect that adding network infrastructure, incorporating new network management tools and procedures and adding to the workload of network administrators will increase costs. This is true to some extent, as there is a capital outlay required for network hardware and software.

Software tools

However, software tools mean that BYOD may not increase the network administration burden significantly – apart from the inevitable user support and hand-holding! The job of managing devices, security and performance is made much easier by contemporary software tools. As with conventional networks, it is possible to distribute intelligent monitoring around the network using software agents and hardware sensors and to collect all the results centrally. With automation to pinpoint trouble spots, derive actionable information and measure the results of any changes there may be no need to increase the size of the IT team to run an efficient and secure BYOD infrastructure.

This applies in equal measure to conventional wired networks too. BYOD, having forced the move to more advanced, more sophisticated automated network management tools, will also bring benefits in supporting users connected via cabled networks. Wired and wireless can be monitored and managed together as one common network fabric, rather than the two separate entities they otherwise tend to be, bringing further opportunities for savings.

Employees work more

Additionally, BYOD enables employees to work more on the move than ever before, which tends to offset any extra costs resulting from the need to manage and support personal devices. As companies move increasingly to virtualisation and cloud computing for their mainstream applications, there is further potential for operational savings as work can continue anywhere there is Internet access. So while BYOD may initially seem like an expensive addition to the network, in practice it may do the opposite – provided that the organisation has the right management tools.

Hardware-focused legacy network management systems designed for static environments do not cut it in the world of BYOD. Such systems should instead centre around the user. Only in this way can network engineers understand the perceived experience of all users on the network, so gaining maximum advantage from BYOD. Equally support should be provided on a per user basis.

Android 5.0 Lollipop to sweeten LG G3 in South Korea this week

Latest flavor of Google’s mobile OS will soon reach South Korean G3 owners, with Europe and North America next on the list.



Google

South Korean owners of the LG G3 smartphone will be receiving Android 5.0 this week, LG said on Sunday.

In a blog post written in Korean, the mobile device maker said that all three of the mobile carriers in Korea — SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus — will launch the update at the same time. The update itself will be available as a direct download from the LG Mobile website for the first one or two weeks. The mobile carriers will then offer the update over the air so that it will automatically install on users’ phones.

LG initially pushed out Android 5.0 to Poland two weeks ago as a test. The launch in Korea, however, means that the update is another step closer to reaching the rest of the world. Which regions are next on LG’s Android update list?

LG spokeswoman Claire Jang told CNET on November 11 that Korean G3 owners would get the upgrade this month “followed by other markets including Europe and North America subsequently.” But she cautioned that “time frames for the upgrade can be varied and also changeable as per region, country, as well as the carrier, so the specific period can hardly be confirmed at this moment.”

Mobile device makers have been racing to roll out Lollipop after Google officially kicked off the latest version of its mobile operating system earlier this month. But as with any Android update, the process can take awhile as manufacturers have to test and prep the software, and gear it for specific devices.

Motorola already began deploying Android 5.0 for its Moto X and Moto G phones earlier this month. Google itself has been aiming the update at its existing Nexus devices, such as the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 smartphones and the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets. A Google representative told CNET this month that “Lollipop will begin rolling out to Nexus devices in November,” which means the rollout must start this week to meet that goal.

Android 5.0 offers several enhancements over its predecessors. Chief among them is a new look known as Material design, which brings animation, richer colors and other effects to the screen. Notifications now appear on the lock screen, and new menu called Overview shows running apps as a stack of cards. Also, a new Battery Saver mode drills down the CPU and turns off background data when a device is running low on power.

Updated: Google remains ‘committed’ to Glass as Basecamp stores shut down

Update: A Google spokesperson told TechRadar that Google is shifting the focus of its Basecamp experience toward the online space.

“Since most of our sales and support for Glass takes place online, we’re shifting our Basecamp space accordingly,” the spokesperson said. “We remain committed to Glass and are busy putting feedback from Explorers into the future version.”

That sure sounds a lot better than, “Nobody wants Google Glass, abort abort abort!” and it should reassure Glass users that Google isn’t abandoning the project.

What form the Basecamp stores will ultimately take, though, remains unclear.

Original story follows…

The past couple of weeks have not been great for Google Glass users, and now to top it off it looks like Glass Basecamp locations in the US may be shutting down.

Google Glass Basecamps are the pop-ups in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles where Glass users could get technical support, try out different colors and accessories and more.

But according to Phandroid, these stores are no longer taking new appointments, indicating they may be shutting down.

Bad sign/good sign

The Google Glass Basecamps were likely always meant to be temporary, but with the consumer version of Glass likely pushed into 2015 it probably isn’t a good sign if they’re closing already.

Then again this could just be a natural part of Google’s transition into the consumer Glass launch or into purely online sales on Google Play for its existing and future Glass headsets.

Google Cardboard VR app puts you onstage with Paul McCartney

Commentary: Get ready to experience “Live and Let Die” in a whole new way. Talk about the ever-changing world in which we’re living.

paul-mccartney-google-cardboard-app.jpg

Jaunt

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen all week. Possibly all month.

Free Google Cardboard app Paul McCartney does more than give you a front-row seat at a live concert; it puts you onstage, right next to Sir Paul’s piano.

Google Cardboard is the dirt-cheap virtual reality headset made out of cardboard and your smartphone, introduced by Google earlier this year. Until now, it was limited to a handful of novelty demos: some Google Earth fly-arounds, an art exhibit and various games that felt more like proof-of-concept efforts.

This new app was created by Jaunt, makers of 360-degree camera gear designed especially to capture cinematic VR. And while this concert footage, of McCartney’s performance of “Live and Let Die” at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, certainly qualifies as another kind of proof of concept, one thing is certain: concept proven!

It starts off with you “standing” just a few feet away from the legendary former Beatle. After 30 seconds or so, your view shifts to the front row — actually, in front of the front row, which you discover when you turn around and spy the entire Candlestick Park audience “behind” you.

Although the camera shifts can be a little jarring, it’s great to see more than just one view of the show. With headphones on, it lends a you-are-there feel that you simply can’t get from watching static 2D (or even 3D) video. Screenshots don’t even remotely do it justice, so if you have a Google Cardboard, get it out. Now. (If you don’t, here’s how to build one. Or you can order one here.)

One curiosity: I tested this with a OnePlus One and second-gen Motorola Moto X, and in both cases the app displayed a message saying the device wasn’t compatible, and would therefore “display at a lower resolution.” But it worked just fine, and the resolution was about what I expected given the nature of the lenses. If you have a different experience with a different phone (i.e. you don’t see that message), share the deets in the comments.

Me, I’m going to sit through the performance again and again, and cross my fingers that I can “attend” more concerts like this in the future. You literally can’t buy better seats.

In depth: Wet Wet Wet: The best ways to listen to music in your bathroom

The ablutions that begin each day are dull and lifeless, while bathing in silence is one of life’s little missed opportunities.

What about that album you downloaded and haven’t listened to yet? Or that podcast that could change your life?

Since few want to take their precious smartphone anywhere near the moist confines of a bathroom, let alone a bath, we’ve put together some options for tunes on the toilet and songs in the shower.

Waterproof Bluetooth speakers

While novelties like the iDuck Wireless Waterproof Speaker will suit some, there are some serious waterproof Bluetooth speakers available that offer stunning audio quality as well as versatility.

Perhaps the finest is the splash-proof Braven BRV-1, which can’t be dunked under water, but it can take a splash or two. Completely weather-proof, the 890g BRV-1’s subwoofers offer the kind of bass you’ll never hear from a smartphone’s speakers, and it comes with a 3.5mm stereo jack and a built-in mic for hands-free calls, too. The BRV-1’s battery charges via microUSB and keeps on going for around 12 hours.

Close competitor the Grace Digital ECOXBT Waterproof Speaker gives 10 hours of music and adds grab handles on each side.

Music in the bathroomThe ECOXBT is a waterproof wireless wonder

Another option is the Sonixx BeachBox Wireless Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker, which comes with a rugged, rubberised shockproof and splash-proof design. Though best left on a shelf rather than taken into the shower cubicle itself, the BeachBox is big on sound quality thanks to its compatibility with APT-X lossless Bluetooth streaming. It includes an aux-in for hooking-up a smartphone and, for owners of flashy Android devices, the BeachBox also includes NFC for one-touch tap pairing.

For only £5.96 (about US$9, AU$11) you can get a the tiny 6 x 6 x 5cm TechCode Mini Ultra Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Wireless Stereo, which sticks to the wall and offers six hours of music when paired to a smartphone left outside of shower.

Waterproof phones

Savvy smartphone owners with waterproof phones won’t need any of these gadgets, though such handsets are still relatively rare. However, phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z3 and Sony Xperia M2 Aqua can all happily be dunked in the bath/shower and survive.

The Galaxy S5 boasts IP67 rating (dunk it a metre underwater for 30 minutes) while the Xperia Z3 reaches IP68 (1.5m for 30 minutes) and the Xperia M2 Aqua also has a rating of IP68 (1.5m for 30 minutes).

Listening to music in the bathroom Sony’s Xperia phones have been waterproof for a few years

Crucially, the speakers on flagship smartphones like the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z3 are a cut above, too.

There are other smartphones that can be used in the bathroom, too, including a range of handsets from niche manufacturer Kyocera (such as the Kyocera Hydro Elite and the Kyocera Hydro Life) and both the Motorola Moto G and HTC One M8, both of which can happily sit on a shelf in a misty bathroom, they just can’t join you in the shower.

Waterproof shower radios

There are a plethora of splash-proof AM/FM radios that will give you some aquatic entertainment. A cheap option is Sony’s ICF-S79W AM/FM/Weather Band Digital Tuner Shower Radio, which boasts a great reception.

Listening to music in the bathroomWaterproof radios are usually cheap AM/FM affairs

There’s also the Abco Tech Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker & Handsfree Speakerphone, which has a sucker to fix onto a tiled wall or shower enclosure. The battery last for up to 15 hours, and it pairs automatically to your phone after the initial set-up.

There’s a pricier version that adds an FM radio, too and the equally diminutive Aquabourne FM Bath/Beach/Shower radio adds an aux-in for attaching a smartphone.

Fund this: Petite Loop adds a wrist strap to your smartphone

This clever Kickstarter project leverages your existing case to provide a secure, inexpensive strap.

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JP Brousseau / Genèze

A wrist strap for your phone makes all kinds of sense.

When you’re out walking the dog, for example, holding the leash and your phone in one hand while you futz with your gloves, and he suddenly yanks hard, sending the phone flying to the pavement — well, a wrist strap would save you a really expensive screen repair. (Not that this has happened to me or anything.)

Of course, it’s nearly impossible to add such a strap to your phone unless it’s part of a special case. Enter Kickstarter project Petite Loop, which solves the problem by working with your existing case.

Specifically, one end of the loop sandwiches in between the back of your phone and the case, where pressure between the two and no-residue adhesive make for a secure bond. You can see this arrangement in action in the animated GIF above, as well as the end result here:

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JP Brousseau / Genèze

Canadian creator JP Brousseau plans to offer the Petite Loop in a variety of colors, fabrics and styles, everything from herringbone patterns to Dalmatian prints.

The project has just under two weeks left, but it’s already very close to hitting its CA$4,000 goal. There are a smattering of early-backer pledge options remaining, including CA$9 (about $8 in the US, plus $2 for shipping to any country; that’s £6.25 or AU$11.30 in total) for a loop of your choice and CA$20 ($17.65, £11.35, AU$20.50) for three loops and free worldwide shipping. Delivery is expected by next month, so they should be available in time for gift-giving.

Your thoughts on this? Obviously it’s not for everyone, but to me it seems a fairly ingenious way to add a secure strap to your phone — ideal if yours frequently goes flying, or you’re just worried it might.

Best ereaders 2014: which should you buy?

The ereader market isn’t especially crowded, but when they all have essentially just one job to do it can still be hard to stand out.

Despite that some ereaders have risen to the top through a combination of slick performance, stunning screens and attractive prices, while others wallow at the bottom, bogged down by cumbersome interfaces, high costs and disappointing displays.

With that in mind we’ve had a sift through and brought you the top ereaders around, so you can choose the best and stop you buying a clunker.

Kobo eReader Touch

Kobo Touch

The Kobo eReader Touch is getting on a bit, but with prices starting at around £60 it’s also one of the cheapest ereaders on the market.

While its price tag is the main reason to choose it, that’s not the only thing the Kobo eReader Touch has going for it. For one thing the Kobo store has over 4 million ebooks, so you shouldn’t be in danger of running out of things to read.

The Kobo eReader Touch also has an attractive interface and numerous fonts and options, so you can customise the device to your liking and while there’s only 1GB of useable memory built in, a microSD card slot ensures you can store your entire library on it.

But its lack of a backlight or 3G hold it back when compared to more recent ereaders. It could be easier to use too, as the design makes one-handed use awkward.

Kobo Aura HD

Aura HD

The Aura HD is Kobo’s premium ereader for anyone who can live without waterproofing. That premium ethos starts with the roughly £130 price tag and is evident in its sleek, ergonomic design, high resolution screen, backlight and two month battery life, not to mention its 4GB of storage backed up by a microSD card slot.

It’s not a home run though and its problems also start at its high price tag and continue through to its sluggish interface and unresponsive touchscreen. It might look like an ereader for the discerning book connoisseur, but its performance doesn’t quite match up.

Kobo Glo

Kobo Glo

The Kobo Glo was Kobo’s first attempt at a built in reading light and though it’s since been superseded by the Kobo Aura HD and the Kobo Aura H2O, the Kobo Glo is still available.

It’s also more affordable, as it’s priced at around £80. Its ComfortLight works well, despite being a first attempt and it has a sensitive touchscreen, 2GB of storage and a microSD card slot.

It also benefits from some of the same features as other Kobo’s, such as the ability to read books and documents in various different formats, including PDF’s and EPUB’s.

At two weeks its battery life isn’t the best around and there’s no 3G variant, but it’s a solid option for well under £100.

Nook Simple Touch GlowLight

Simple Touch GlowLight

The Nook Simple Touch GlowLight hit the scene at around the same time as the Kobo Glo and to similar effect, though now available from just around £50 so it’s far better value.

It has a reading light of course, or a GlowLight if you work for Barnes & Noble. Its 6-inch anti-glare screen is comfortable to read and with over 3 million books its store is competitive. It also benefits from expandable storage and a lightweight design.

It’s not got all the bells and whistles of the latest Kindle’s but for £50 it’s hard to complain.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

The Kindle Touch, or simply the Amazon Kindle as it’s now known, is Amazon’s basic 6-inch touchscreen ereader. It’s got a cheap and chunky design, there’s no 3G version, no backlight, no microSD card slot and no keyboard, but it gets the basics right.

At just £59 it’s competitively priced and with its intuitive interface, good screen and wide book selection it’s the perfect companion, whether reading at home or on the tube. The Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Voyage have it beat, but they also cost more.

Nook GlowLight

GlowLight

Not to be confused with the Nook Simple Touch GlowLight, the Nook GlowLight is a more recent reader from Barnes & Noble and it’s a solid Paperwhite competitor, with a bright, clear 6-inch screen and a light and portable design, making it ideal to shove in a bag and take everywhere with you.

It’s got good battery life too, but like its Amazon rival there’s no microSD card slot and its touchscreen is disappointingly sluggish. Still, at £89 it’s also £20 cheaper than the Kindle Paperwhite.

Kobo Aura H2O

Kobo Aura H2O

It’s almost surprising that we’ve had to wait this long for a water and dust proof ereader, given that baths, swimming pools and beaches are popular reading spots, but Kobo has finally delivered one with the Aura H2O.

That’s not all it’s got going for it either, as a bright LED-lit e-ink screen that only needs to be refreshed every six page turns ensures it’s got the basics down too and a long battery life and microSD card slot don’t hurt.

Sadly it’s not perfect, thanks to a distinct lack of power which can leave it feeling sluggish, especially when viewing PDF’s.

There’s also no 3G option, while its £139.99 price tag puts it in high end company. But as the only waterproof ereader it’s the ideal choice for anyone who can’t help but reach for a book when in the proximity of water.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Paperwhite

Amazon’s ereaders have always been successful and while that’s partly down to brand awareness it’s also because the company genuinely makes some of the best readers on the market.

The Kindle Paperwhite is a prime example of that, with its sleek design, slick performance, good backlight and screen and up to two months of battery life.

Amazon’s even gone above and beyond, with extras like X-Ray, Kindle Page Flip and Smart Lookup added into the mix.

With only 4GB of storage and no microSD card slot we could certainly ask for more space for our library and while it’s nice that Amazon’s included a browser it’s barely functional, it’s not the cheapest option either at £109, but all in all this is one of the best ereaders around and well worth the money.

Amazon Kindle Voyage

Kindle Voyage

The Kindle Paperwhite was once the top of the heap, but it’s been bettered by another Amazon offering, the Kindle Voyage.

It’s essentially a perfected version of the Kindle Paperwhite, with the same interface and features but an even better 300ppi screen, a uniform backlight, an ambient light sensor and PagePress buttons, which allow you to navigate a book without lifting a finger.

It’s even got a sleek 7.6mm thick build making it the best looking Kindle ever. All that comes with a high price tag that starts at £169 and like other Kindle’s the Voyage lacks a microSD card slot, but this is still arguably the most premium and certainly the best ereader that money can buy.

If you read a lot and, crucially, have the money to spare this is the clear choice.

  • It’s not actually an ereader, but the iPad mini 3 is still pretty good for reading on.