Talk Mobile | Windows Central

Talk Mobile

Holiday shopping savings are heading to the web! There are a lot of Cyber Monday "deals" out there, we want to help you find the ones that are actually deals!

Are you ready to save big? Good! It's time for the best Black Friday tech deals, and you'll find them all right here!

The judges have deliberated over the entries for the last several days and finally reached a verdict on the winners in the 5th annual Mobile Nations No Tricks, Just Treats Halloween contest! We appreciate all the pictures that were submitted, and hope that you all had as much fun entering as we did looking through everyone's entries. Come and see who this year's winners are!

Opera Mini, Fhotoroom and Tweetium for Windows Phone get minor updates

Opera Mini, Fhotoroom and Tweetium for Windows Phone all have small updates for download. There are no change logs for Opera Mini or Fhotoroom, but Tweetium's update shows a number of small bug fixes and improvements.

You can save thousands of bucks every year on your mobile phone bill by switching to FreedomPop. Learn more about how it's possible to get 100% free talk, text and 4G LTE data every month here. FreedomPop is offering over 65% off the certified pre-owned HTC Evo 4G LTE (here is the Android Central review of the HTC Evo 4G LTE), which works out to just $99.99, plus free shipping. Other top-notch handsets from Samsung, HTC, and LG are also discounted and offer the same access to free talk, text, and data services from FreedomPop. The icing on the cake is an unlimited talk and text trial for your first month.

Live from the AT&T Developer Summit! [#CESlive]

We're live this morning from the AT&T Developer Summit at the Palms in Las Vegas.

What's in store if history repeats, a bunch of network news, and maybe a few device announcements.

The talk kicks off at 9 a.m. PST — that's noon on the East Coast. Hit us up after the break for the liveblog. 

This marks the conclusion of Talk Mobile 2013. After fifty episodes, more than a hundred breakout videos, and two hundred essays, it's time to wind down the insanity and take a step back an look back at what all transpired. While Talk Mobile brought new tools to the mix, both technical and editorial, the crowning accomplishment was the conversation - not between the writers, but the community.

And that's a conversation that has only just begun.

Mobile You. The last of ten weeks of Talk Mobile 2013, and it was all-too-appropriately all about you. From how to find the right smartphone for you to how to customize that phone to how to manage your family of mobile devices and mobile device users, week ten was about the mobile you.

The modern smartphone is a beast that has changed the way that we live and communicate. It's uniquely personal and yet is our gateway to the furthest reaches of the globe. Unsurprisingly, you had a lot to say about that.

For all the time we've spent in Talk Mobile talking about specs, services, carriers, and usage, we haven't spent much time on what these devices look like. Sure, they're mostly glass slabs with white or black framing (with a few exceptions), but beyond that glass, what else is there?

With unit sales moving well past the millions monthly, with people willing to line up overnight to be among the first to own a device, has fashion become a defining characteristic of a smartphone? Is consumer fever over devices like the new gold-colored iPhone 5s just a fluke, or part of a larger trend?

So just how important is fashion with your smartphone? Is it better to be able to customize the software or the hardware? Are our smartphones to be accessorized, or are they already accessories themselves, primed to be swapped out to match your shoes or your shirt?

More than anything in the past, the internet offers the opportunity to rocket your notoriety into the stratosphere overnight. News used to run in a daily cycle, with the morning newspaper, maybe an afternoon edition, and the evening news.

Today the news runs in an unending unstopping cycle, augmented, supplemented, and in large part supplanted by social networking and media. What you do that ends up online can bring instant and overnight fame - and that might not be a good thing

So just how famous can you be on the internet, can your fame transcend this world of fiber, silicon, and electrons? Can your photos bring you fame in the same manner as your words, or will it just be the photos themselves that achieve fame? Is it possible to leverage that fame into income, or are you destined to be burdened with your profitless notoriety?

We humans are social characters by nature. We gather with friends, we pair off with mates, we love and care about our families to the point of being irrational. Modern technology enables those bonds to transcend space and time, but they add a whole new layer of complication to our lives.

The same decision making processes that we have to apply to making our own smartphone purchasing decisions have to be applied to purchasing smartphones, picking cellular plans, and signing onto cloud services. Except more so, because you're going to have to deal with these people on a regular basis.

So what's the best way to set up your family's comprehensive computing ecosystem? Are these shared data plans that the carriers have hoisted up on us a good deal for us, or the carrier? And are our favorite manufacturers, carriers, and developers treating everybody in our families fairly?

Let's get the conversation started!

For the longest time your options with mobile devices were limited. If you wanted a smartphone, chances are you'd be getting one with a physical keyboard, either the Treo/BlackBerry-style "candybar" smartphone or a horizontal slider. If you wanted a tablet, you were looking at a thick stylus-driven experience mated to laptop-style internals. And if you wanted a laptop, well, you could get one of those, but couldn't expect anything better than a few hours battery life in a slow and bulky package.

Today things have changed. Smartphones are available in a variety of form factors from numerous manufacturers on multiple platforms. Tablets have ditched their laptop origins in favor of chipsets that more closely parallel their smartphone cousins. Laptops are thinner, lighter, more powerful, and longer-lasting than ever before.

Even some old technologies - like the stylus - have found a new life in today's devices. So just which one is right for whom, and which one is right for you?

Back in late 2009, CrackBerry's Kevin Michaluk composed what he termed "the smartphone hierarchy of needs". Based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which stretched from the physiological (food, water, shelter, air, etc) to self-actualization (creativity, morality, purpose, meaning, etc), Kevin's hierarchy sought to classify what he looked for in a smartphone, and in what order.

The pyramid put connectivity, compatibility, and security as the base and apps selection at the tip. Coming from a long-time BlackBerry user, placing communications as the foundational, most-important aspect of a smartphone was no surprise, nor was it surprising to find battery life and reliability at the next step up. But since 2009, the world of mobile technology has radically changed. Smartphones are both more specialized and more broad.

So what best fits the mobile communicator, the app addict, the media consumer, or the mobile artist and writer? Are there one-size-fits-all platforms or smartphones, and do different user types have their own needs from their devices and services? Does the smartphone hierarchy of needs still have a place today - does it need a slight update, or to be scrapped wholesale in place of something different.

Having a smartphone isn't enough anymore. Our mobile devices exist in a whole ecosystem of accessories, from connected speakers to fitness monitors to thermostats, refrigerators, and cars. We've gone from standalone devices that queried the internet to cloud-connected mobile hubs that coordinate all of the devices in our lives. The smartphone has domain over everything, and now it's time for you to sound off on that!

There's one thing we can be almost certain of in the years to come: we're going to wear and carry more tech with us every day. Our smartphones will be more powerful, our watches smarter, and our glasses more connected. We'll carry sensors and radios everywhere, and they'll collect more data than ever before. But what are we going to do with that, where are we going to access it all, and how will we be entertained by it?

Increased connectivity and more devices mean new challenges to be faced. How are we to overcome the restrictions of our packet-driven internet system in order to move television from switched digital transmission to IP? How are we going to build watches that are smart enough to be useful, but still small enough to not be cumbersome, and well-designed enough that we're willing to wear and use them?

How are we going to get to a point where we have displays everywhere with an omnipresent artificially intelligent computer assistant following us everywhere and anticipating our needs? How are we going to meet the challenges of terrain, signage, weather, and - most of all - human drivers to make driverless cars a reality? It's time to talk about the connected future.

When it comes to expensive purchases, cars rank right up there. Not only are they designed to go fast, they're designed to do so in relative comfort and safety, while costing as little to do so as possible. Even with all of that design they're still complicated machines to operate. Yet, they can simultaneously be boring. What's engaging about coasting down an open stretch of highway? Nothing.

So we've devised ways to keep ourselves entertained, typically through passive entertainment from the likes of music or talk radio playing through the car's stereo. But recently the smartphone has stood to change the way we think about entertainment in the car, along with disrupting other things.

So how can we put mobile to work to provide the same level of entertainment in our cars as it does in our homes? Are the mapping services on our smartphones good enough to replace a dedicated GPS unit in the car? And is it even safe to be using these things while we drive?

Over the years our homes have gradually improved, with better insulation, more efficient heating and cooling, modern layouts, and exceedingly solid building codes. But the infusion of technology into our homes has been slow, incremental, and typically severely isolated.

Sure, there have been computerized home automation systems for decades, but they've generally been unwieldy, expensive, and difficult to install in even new builds (let alone existing homes). But maybe rise of lightweight operating systems, miniaturized sensors, wireless networking, and cloud technology can making the automated house more of reality than we ever thought possible?

How can mobile technology and connectivity make our homes safer and more secure? And what good can a smartphone or tablet do us in the kitchen, or helping out with chores around the house? And when are we going to get to the day where every surface is an interface - and should every surface be an interface anyway?

Early on a smartphone accessory used to be something like a case or a holster, or maybe a Bluetooth headset if you were a real power user. But with increasingly powerful, efficient, and miniaturized sensors, memory, and processors, it's become possible for these accessories to become much more than that.

Our smartphones are no longer the only piece of connected technology we can carry with us everywhere we go. Fitness trackers and health monitors have exploded onto the market in recent years, as have sleep monitoring devices and a wide array of nutrition and medical apps and services. They're beginning to change how we live, taking data about our lives and spitting out quantifiable information that we can use to make better choices.

Or so they say. But can technology really help us in our exercise and enable us to be more fit? Are these nutrition apps and services good enough to do what they claim to do, or is it all in our heads? Can you get a more restful sleep with a connected wristband or clip-on monitor? And can all of this technology help us be healthier and make better medical decisions?

Down but not out as BlackBerry looks to go private in Fairfax deal

Along with the other big news from Microsoft today, troubled smartphone company BlackBerry was snapped up by Fairfax Financial—or at least they have signed a letter of intent to do so. That means any dreams (or nightmare) of a Microsoft acquisition can be put to rest.

We won’t go too deep into the news, as we have a sister site called CrackBerry for that, but for now we’ll just summarize what it all means.

If there's one industry that didn't expect to be upended by mobile devices, it's the entertainment industry. The music, television, and radio empires are domains of the status quo. They've established dominance and usage behaviors for the public, and they're perfectly happy with how things have been.

Mobile devices and their ever-increasing connectivity options and speeds have upended entertainment. Now able to get more information more quickly than ever wherever they want, users are asking the same questions about their entertainment.

So just where do smartphones and tablets fit into the home theater set-up - are they just for serving content, or can you use them to control all of the home theater stack as well? Can we use our smartphones to broadcast music through the entire house, without wires or hassle? And how has mobile changed how we watch TV and listen to traditional radio?