Category Archives: Mobiles

Dailing Faster With Google Voice on Android and Blackberry Devices

Google is always obsessed with speed. Their mantra is faster = better. This is true for their Google Voice mobile apps as well. When you want to make a call, your phone should connect you as quickly as possible, whether you’re calling via Google Voice or not.

Today they are launching an enhancement to the Google Voice mobile app on Android and Blackberry phones, which makes placing calls much faster. They call this feature “direct access numbers.” Here’s how it works:

Until today, the Google Voice app had to make a request to the Google Voice server every time you wanted to make a call to send us the phone number you wanted to dial. Then the call would be connected via a Google Voice access number. With direct access numbers, Google assign a unique phone number to every person you call. This means that they no longer need to use your data network to access the server each time you make a call, so calls will be placed much faster.

The updated Android app is available from Android Market starting today. For Blackberry users, you can download the app by visiting http://m.google.com/voice from your mobile device. You will need a valid Google Voice account to use the app, and at this time, Google Voice is available in the US only.

Get Firefox Home on Your iPhone!

Firefox Home, a free application, is now available for download on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Firefox Home provides access to your Firefox desktop history, bookmarks and open tabs on your iPhone. Get up and go and have exactly what you are looking for on the Web on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Firefox Home uses your browser data, securely synced from Firefox on your desktop to the cloud, to let you search and browse quickly and efficiently. You can view the sites you want directly in Firefox Home, open them in Mobile Safari or share them with friends via email. Your Firefox data is private and only you have access to it.

Quick Start:

If you have Firefox Sync on your desktop, skip to step #3.

  1. Install Firefox Sync, a free add-on for Firefox, on your desktop.
  2. Restart Firefox and follow prompts to create an account with both a password and a secret phrase.
  3. Go the App Store on your iPhone and search for “Firefox Home” or install it directly from iTunes.
  4. Launch Firefox Home on your iPhone. You’ll be prompted to enter your Firefox Sync account info. Enter your username, password and Secret Phrase and tap “Done.”
  5. Enjoy!

More detailed set-up instructions are available, as well as a answers to frequently asked questions.

Yahoo! Messenger is Now available on Android

Android phone owners, the wait is over! Today marks the debut of Yahoo! Messenger App for Android, alongside the new Yahoo! Mail for Android.

With the availability of Yahoo’s world-class Yahoo! Messenger services for Android, they’re making it easier than ever for users to access fast, reliable, and feature-rich Yahoo! experiences on one of the fastest growing platforms in the market.

Yahoo! Messenger Android App is available for download via the Android Market globally, and support OS 2.0 or higher, including the popular Motorola Droid, HTC Incredible, Google Nexus One.

With the new Yahoo! Messenger App for Android, you can:

  • Easily message friends, check friends’ status updates and availability and update their personal status and availability
  • Multitask and stay connected with the App working in the background; with push notifications, consumers can easily catch new messages and friend requests
  • Full use of emoticons and rich text formatting
  • Send photos to friends directly from the phone’s camera or the photo gallery
  • Chat with MSN/Windows Live Messenger friends
  • Send instant messages to friends via SMS text message*

Download the Yahoo! Messenger App from the Android Market on your phone today and let us know what you think! For additional information, visit http://mobile.yahoo.com/messenger/android

Is Your Website Credit Card Friendly?

In my last column I discussed the process of credit card enabling your brick-and-mortar business. I pointed out that research has shown that accepting credit cards can help increase revenue and enhance cash flow. I also pointed out that you may have to look beyond your local bank for help in getting things set up. This week we will look at setting up an online payment system for your business website. If you think hooking up a brick-and-mortar location with a credit card system stymies most bankers, try asking them how to do it on your website.

If you’ll recall, the question that spurred this topic came from a lady who went to her local bank for help in setting up a credit card acceptance system for her business and her banker wasn’t very knowledgeable on the subject. I pointed out that her banker’s ignorance of the subject probably wasn’t a reflection on his skills as a banker, but a reflection on the compartmentalization of the credit card aspect of banking.

The fact is, most banks can provide you with the merchant account needed to accept credit card payments, but beyond that have little to do with the process. Even larger banks may only have a single person on staff who is tasked as the “credit card expert” and if that person ever goes on vacation, you’re pretty much out of luck (voice of experience talking here, folks).

I have helped many clients set up online credit card processing systems and more than once I’ve had to sit down with the bank issuing the merchant account and educate them on how online payment systems work. Don’t believe me? This is a direct quote (here’s the Bible, here’s my hand) from the bank employee who was in charge of processing internet merchant account applications, “When someone pays online how do they swipe the credit card in their computer…”

Much like a brick and mortar credit card processing system, you will need the following to accept credit cards on your website:

(1) an electronic shopping cart system that allows the customer to select products and checkout when ready;

(2) a payment gateway service to get approval or declination of the credit card;

(3) a credit card processor who will process the transaction; and

(4) an internet merchant account issued by an acquiring bank in which processed funds are deposited.

We covered most of these elements last week. Here’s a quick refresher for those who missed the basics, then we’ll talk about a shopping cart system.

Payment Gateway Service: The payment gateway service comes into play when a customer submits their credit card information to the webpage form. Think of the gateway service as the middleman in the process. The website’s shopping cart checkout system electronically submits the credit card to the gateway service who then routes the information to the processor for approval. Depending on the reply from the processor, the gateway service will return an approval or declination for the purchase. This entire process takes just seconds to perform.

Credit Card Processor: The credit card processor is an electronic data center that processes the credit card transactions coming from the gateway company, ensures that the charge is valid, then settles the funds in your merchant account.

Internet Merchant Account: An Internet merchant account is a bank or financial institution account in which funds from online sales are deposited. Merchant accounts are usually issued by banks who are associated with the major credit card services like Visa and MasterCard. Be aware that many banks will not grant merchant accounts to Internet merchants as they are often categorized as “high risk ventures.” This policy varies widely and in the end, the granting of the merchant account will come down to economics from the bank’s point of view. If the bank sees even the smallest iota of risk, you will not be granted the account. Fortunately, the growth of online sales has given rise to an entire industry of merchant service bureaus that will grant you a merchant account and everything else you need to accept online payments. The fees are usually higher, but it’s better than not having an online payment system at all.

Shopping Cart System. To accept online payments you must have what’s called a “shopping cart system” that allows your customer to choose and purchase products. Adding a shopping cart system to your website can be simple or complex, cheap or very expensive. It depends on the product you’re selling and the options you wish to offer your customers. As in everything, you get what you pay for.

A shopping cart system typically consists of three components: a product catalog, the shopping cart, and a checkout/payment system. The product catalog is your inventory component and displays the items you have for sale on the website. The checkout/payment system is the part of the program that allows your customers to “add this to my cart,” and the checkout/ payment system is the component that allows the customer to checkout and pay for their purchase.

There is a wide variety of shopping cart software on the market and the price is dependent on the features you want. Shopping cart systems range from simple HTML form insertions to full- blown catalog and inventory systems like those used by Amazon or Dell.

You can spend from zero to tens of thousands of dollars. Some of them you can set up on your site yourself while others should be set up by someone who knows what they’re doing.

You can get a free Paypal.com shopping cart system which is the most simplistic in nature, but the easiest to implement. Using Paypal also alleviates the need for a bank merchant account because everything is handled by Paypal, for a fee of course. You insert HTML forms into your website code and when an item is purchased.

There are also numerous online companies who will assist in the setup of your ecommerce / credit card system. These companies charge several hundred to several thousand dollars for their services, so it would be wise for you to have an idea of exactly what you need before calling them into play.

Customer submits credit card. The site sends the transaction to the gateway. The gateway sends the info to the processor. The processor contacts the issuing bank of the customers credit card. The issuing bank returns the result of the processor. The processor routs the result to the gate. The gateway passes the result to the website. The website displays the result.

One thing to remember when setting up an ecommerce system on your site is this: online it’s all about security and privacy. Though online credit card processing has been around for years there are still many people who are uncomfortable giving their credit card number online. These are the same folks that do not hesitate to give their credit card number over the phone to a complete stranger or hand their credit card to a waiter who disappears with it for ten minutes. Online credit card processing is much less susceptible to fraud and abuse than either telephone processing or giving it to a waiter.

Eighty-five percent of internet users surveys said that a lack of security made them uncomfortable sending credit card information over the Web.

It’s up to you to instill a sense of security and make the customer comfortable shoving their card into their computer.

Here’s to your success.

Web Hosting Strategy for Managing Multiple Websites

If you are making a comfortable living from the Internet and the Web or have a plan to achieve that goal, it’s likely that you are running more than ten websites. The websites are your virtual offices. You want to your sites to be up and running 365 days, 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. Managing multiple websites is a daunting task if running one website is a hobby.


Proposed Hosting Strategy for Managing Multiple Websites

The hosting strategy we propose is to host your multiple major websites with 3-4 different hosting companies, and open a reseller account with another hosting company for 1) small and new websites, 2) web development and 3) backup. Hosting with too many hosting companies will significantly increase the time and the difficulty of managing sites, and using a single hosting company isn’t a smart choice either.

Justification of the Hosting Strategy

Cost – Cost of the Web hosting isn’t an issue for running a single web site whether it costs $5 or $25 a month. The difference is only a few hundred dollars or less a year. It’s always nice and smart to get the most out of every single dollar in doing business. At least, a few hundred dollars difference wouldn’t make or break a business. If you run 10 or even 50 websites, the cost of Web hosting alone will define the success or failure of your online adventure. To cut the hosting cost, the option is to use a reseller hosting account to host as many small or new sites as you want for about $15 a month. You host one or 2 major websites with one hosting company. Shared hosting account costs under $10 a month, and dedicated server will cost $50 or more a month.

Uptime – If your bread-and-butter maker website is down for a few hours, you’ll lose hundreds of dollars and more. Even though most hosting companies promise 99.9% uptime, it’s not common to see a website down for a few hours. A site could be down for a half day or even more if a hosting company is doing a major update. The hosting company may do the update in a weekend or a major holiday, but that’s when many family-oriented and travel sites generate their revenues. If you could afford the loss of revenues, many websites owners can’t bear the psychological loss and pressure. Hosting your sites with a few hosting companies will reduce the risk of downtime.

Application Development – For simple web application, webmasters will do development on the same production hosting site. If your ecommerce applications are complex, doing development on the production site may bring down the live site especially if you’re in the process of changing configuration files or install customized applications. The option is setup a website on your reseller account for development and testing, and move the applications to production account on another server after the completion.

Backup – If you’re not happy with a hosting company, a hosting company is out of business, or the servers will be down for a day or two, you can easily temporarily or permanently switch from one hosting company to other since you’re familiar with the site managing tools already. If you have a backup or secondary copy running on another server, all you need for the switch is the transfer of the domain, which will take no more than a minute.


Shop Before You Buy

There’re too many hosting plans to choose from a large number of hosting companies – ASP Web Hosting, Budget Hosting, Dedicated Servers, eCommerce Hosting, FrontPage Web Hosting, Hosting With Templates ( http://www.theserving.com ) , Managed Web Hosting, PHP Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, Shared Hosting, Unix / Linux Hosting, Virtual Private Servers, Windows Hosting or Co-location Hosting. Compare the cost, hosting features, tracking records of hosting companies before making your commitment. Good luck with your online adventures.

T-Mobile myTouch 3G handset becomes official

We’re finally allowed to tell you that T-Mobile’s second Android-powered handset will indeed be the T-Mobile myTouch 3G. An HTC-manufactured device, already available in other countries with other carriers, finally will make its way to T-Mobile USA in early August. It is available for pre-order on July 8th for a retail price of $199 with two year agreement. The rumored color options were correct with white, black, and “distinctive merlot” colorizations. Here’s a list of full specifications, and further information is available after the break!

  • Quad-band EDGE, UMTS/HSDPA (1700MHz/2100MHz)
  • Wi-Fi
  • GPS
  • 3.2 megapixel autofocus camera with YouTube and Picasa uploading support
  • MicroSD slot with included 4GB microSD card
  • 3.2″ HVGA capacitive touch screen
  • Microsoft Exchange support

T-Mobile is really pushing customization options on the myTouch 3G with exclusive applications like the ones below:

“Whether a marathon runner in training who downloads the Cardio Trainer application or a
music buff who lives by his or her Imeem application, myTouch customers can find and
download unique applications from Android Market to expand and personalize their phone
to fit their precise interests and lifestyle. myTouch customers can also enjoy Sherpaâ„¢, an
application that features GENIE (Geodelic ENgine for Interest Evaluation), a learning
engine that automatically customizes itself to the user’s preferences. Created by Geodelic,
Sherpa learns a person’s likes and dislikes through behavior and user feedback,
prioritizing recommended retailers, restaurants and attractions. Seamlessly blending
behavior recognition, a recommendation engine and location relevant information, this combination of learning is exclusive to Sherpa and unlike any experience currently on the market.”

Complete HTC Ozone specs unearthed

We’ve already given the world its first peek and Verizon’s upcoming HTC Ozone, nailed down its scheduled availability of June 29th/July 13th and pegged its pricing at $49.99 after MIR, but we’re not done yet because two of our VZW ninjas just hit us up with the complete spec list for the device — and plenty more. Just as we suspected, the Ozone features EV-DO Rev. A connectivity in addition to quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE. We’re also pleased to report that the GPS chip is not shackled to VZ Navigator and that Verizon will allow users to use the device as a tethered modem (for a fee of course). Hit the jump for the rest of the specs along with a sizable Ozone deck.

Thanks, anonymous and indelus!

Features

  • Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard
  • Dual-band 1xRTT/EV-DO Rev. A, quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
  • Pre-installed SIM Card w/ Global Support Kit
  • Microsoft Office Mobile
  • Adobe Reader LE PFT viewer
  • Internet Explorer Mobile
  • Windows Media Player Mobile
  • 256MB ROM/128MB RAM
  • WiFi 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP
  • 2.4″ QVGA display w/ 24k color
  • Full-QWERTY with 5-way navigation key
  • 2 megapixel camera w/ auto-focus and video capture
  • microSD slot (up to 16GB)
  • Voice command, notes/recorder capable
  • Speakerphone
  • Security locking features
  • MMS
  • AOL, WLM, Yahoo! IM
  • Wireless Sync capable
  • ActiveSync capable (v4.5) and Windows Mobile Device Center
  • Mobile Broadband Connect capable
  • VZ Navigator capable
  • Visual Voicemail capable
  • Device Insurance available
  • Hearing aid compatible = M3/T3

Specifications

  • 4.5″ x 2.5″ x 0.5″
  • 3.7 oz.
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • 290 minutes talk-time
  • 324 hours standby
  • Head: 1.03 W/Kg SAR

Apple sells over one million iPhones during launch weekend, six million OS 3.0 downloads

It looks like dogs everywhere are in for some trouble as Apple reveals over one million iPhone 3G S models were sold this past weekend. Yep, that’s a whole lot of high pitched squealing — but apparently the “S” stands for “Sales”. Almost equally as impressive, it looks like Steve Jobs was somehow tracked down for comment:

Customers are voting and the iPhone is winning. With over 50,000 applications available from Apple’s revolutionary App Store, iPhone momentum is stronger than ever.

Fair enough, Stevo… Over a million handsets sold and over six million OS 3.0 downloads in one weekend is definitely a solid showing. What’s more is that despite a few issues here and there, users seem overwhelmingly happy with their new handsets. How about you guys — satisfied customers or buyer’s remorse?

PS- Apple, your website is slathered with “3G S” and today’s release repeatedly mentions “3GS”. Work it out.

Read

Wildly popular Samsung Jet breaks the two million mark for pre-orders

Think one million is impressive? Samsung announced this morning that pre-orders for its recently announced Jet handset have topped the two million mark — the highest volume pre-order in the Korean company’s history. The Jet is a well-rounded device with a 3.1-inch WVGA AMOLED touchscreen display, 800MHz processor, new TouchWiz 2.0 user interface, GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA (3.6Mbps) 900/1200, full HTML Dolfin Web browser, 5 megapixel camera, GPS, DNSe & SRS Sound Effect technology, DivX and XviD video support and Microsoft Exchange support. With all that punch packed into a sexy little package, it’s no wonder pre-orders are coming in like crazy. The Jet is slated to launch later this month in 50 countries worldwide. Anyone excited enough to take the plunge and push Samsung towards the 3 million mark?

[Via Unwired View]

Read

Sprint launches LG LX370, Samsung Exclaim and HTC Snap

Believe it or not, Sprint fans, there actually are other new handsets available from the carrier beyond the Palm Pre. You might not think so with all of the focus that the webOS device is — or was — getting, but it is true. Sure there’s the Tour coming down the pipe for all you BlackBerry fans out there, but what about there rest of you? Well, between yesterday and today Sprint has launched three new handsets that should fill in the gaps quite nicely. First up, the LG LX370 was announced today featuring Sprint’s One Click UI, EV-DO Rev. A, a 2 megapixel camera, GPS, Sprint TV, stereo Bluetooth and microSDHC support. Fair enough for a $100 slider (after $50 MIR). Also announced this morning is the Samsung Exclaim, which sports a side-sliding QWERTY keypad along with a 2 megapixel camera, EV-DO Rev. A, GPS, Sprint TV, Sprint One Click UI and microSDHC support. The Exclaim is a touch more affordable at $80 after a $50 MIR. Last but not least, the HTC Snap finally decided to join the party yesterday. Already available from Best Buy and Radio Shack, the Snap has already been detailed a zillion times so just know that it’ll run you $150 after a $100 MIR if you want to snag it directly from Sprint. See anything you like?

Read (LG LX370)
Read (Samsung Exclaim)
Read (HTC Snap)