It appears that ATT and Verizon are ripping (some of ) us off…

This is from a blog on CNET. This is something they have argued for years but now it seems like that tables need to be turned in favor of the customer given certain circumstances. Essentially what has happened is that carriers charge more for their cell plans so that customers can get a cheaper phone – so what happens when a customer buys a phone at full price or uses a phone they had previously? shouldnt they get a discounted plan?

“…regarding the price of your monthly service even though you have had to pay for a phone at full price.

When the FCC questioned wireless carriers in 2009 and 2010 about their early termination fees, which customers must pay if they terminate their contracts before the term is up, the wireless carriers argued the fee existed because it offset the cost of the phone during that contract period. They explained that a portion of the fee that customers pay each month for their service was going toward paying off the cost of the subsidy that the customer got when he bought a new phone on the network.

In other words, the $200 a customer pays to get the phone is only a fraction of the total cost of owning that device. The carrier picks up the other $400 or so on that device. And the carrier claims it recovers the rest of the cost over the life of the two-year contract.

But what happens when you buy the phone at full price? Or what about when your contract ends? Does the cost of your monthly service get reduced because you’ve finished paying off your device? The answer to this question under most carrier plans is no. (T-Mobile is the only major U.S. carrier that reduces your monthly service charge once your phone subsidy is paid off.)

I’d argue that if carriers are subsidizing phones and arguing that they must charge ETFs (early termination fees) to cover the cost of phones when customers cancel their service early, then they should reduce the cost of the service once the phone is paid off. And they should offer a discount on the service if you bring your own phone.” – Source

Apple sells 2x as many iPads as iMacs to schools – Is this a good thing?

Article: http://mashable.com/2012/07/24/apple-ipad-education-sales/

While I think it is great that schools are adopting new technology I have to wonder, did schools jump the gun here? I know that some schools are definitely using the iPad for some really cool things and I love to see innovation. However, I wonder, and this really only applies to schools who bought iPads to replace computers, do all of these schools have enough computers for each student already? I ask because you can purchase a PC for the same price as the iPad (there is no educational discount on iPads so they are $500 for schools). If a school does not have a computer for each student, I would question their purchase of iPads for each student (if that is what they did because just purchasing some iPads is not what I am talking about here in this post). Computers are significantly more powerful than iPads and can do much more. I only recommend that my students by a computer first and if they have more money, then get the iPad. Do not just get the iPad and expect it to replace their laptop. So while I like mobile/tablet technology and think it does have a place in education, I would question anyone who is using that technology to replace computers because it does not and I do know that some schools are replacing computers with iPads which I believe is not a good way to use this technology.

Run Android apps on Mac?

A company called Bluestacks is trying to do just that. You can download the beta player now. While I could really care less about running an android app on my mac what I do care about is running them on my ipad/iphone and vice versa. Hopefully this is a step towards that.

Website: http://bluestacks.com/bstks_mac.html

Google Developer Conference Updates

Here are the major updates from the conference:

Nexus tablet will be released mid july. It is 7 inches and will cost $199. Seems like a big iPad/Kindle competitor imo. You can read about the exact specs here

Also, Android 4.1 Jellybean will be released mid july. It will be released on Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Xoom. You can read about the features here but honestly they are just minor updates. I believe that is why we are only going from 4.0.4 to 4.1 rather than to 5.0 at this point.

How to build a mobile app using HTML5

Yes, you can build mobile apps in HTML. You do not need to use Java or c-sharp (unless you want a complicated app). There are easier ways for the novice programmer. This is good as my students are not really programmers at all, we are designers:) So you can build standard native apps in HTML. My favorite tool for doing this is PhoneGap. PhoneGap is an opensource software package owned by Adobe. Here is a link to phonegap:

PhoneGap: http://phonegap.com/

Here is a review of PhoneGap and my thoughts on using it in the classroom: http://raypastore.com/wordpress/2012/05/phonegap-building-an-app-and-classroom-use/

Now, what is the advantage of using HTML to create a mobile app? One, its pretty easy and many people already know HTML. You can even use dreamweaver to make the app – although be careful because dreamweaver creates some bad code that might not work well on the mobile device. I really suggest hand coding in HTML5 all mobile apps. But the real advantage is that the apps will work on all mobile devices! You can publish to Apple, Google, MS, and Blackberry. Now in order to do so you need to be a developer for each and publish through them, so for Android its Eclipse and Apple is xcode – and as you read in my review blog post above, that is kind of difficult for the average user. However, for the developer, this is an awesome way to create one app that works on all devices.

One thing I do want to mention here and make sure this point is clear: HTML5 apps are simply not as powerful as apps developed in C-Sharp, Java, or Flash. HTML5 just doesnt have the power. So for simple apps, HTML5 is a great option and the best in my opinion. For a more complicated app that access a database and requires a lot of functionality, I would go a different route.

Just a quick note – there are other options besides phonegap, such as: titatium and genexus. I chose phonegap because they really seem to be the most popular, are opensourced, and now that Adobe owns them, I have a feeling they will be integrated with the next version of dreamweaver and will really own the HTML5 mobile market.

What happens to cell phones when there is wifi everywhere?

So what will happen to cell phones when there is wifi everywhere? Here is my prediction: No more cell or data plans from verizon, att, sprint, tmobile, etc. Instead we will buy the devices directly from manufacturers such as Apple, Google, Samsung, HTC, etc and use them just as we are now. I am not quite sure we will actually have phone numbers but may instead use Skype services and simply just use our usernames. If I were skype I would certainly be trying to make sure they are the preferred method of communication when this happens because I am sure both apple and google will promote their video/voice communication services. However since skype is cross platform, it could be the best. But just imagine, no more contracts or monthly fees….it would be awesome!

Carat: Monitor what is using your phone’s battery

A group at UC Berkeley has developed an app called Carat that monitors your phones battery usage and then recommends what you can do to improve it. I just downloaded it last night and will report how well it works in a few days. Please note that this is different than battery saver apps which are designed to shut things down – those actually take up more battery.

Website: http://carat.cs.berkeley.edu/

Two of my Android Apps now available in Android Market Place (Play)

Here are two Android Apps I created that are now available on the Google Market Place (Google Play). They are both free and both display surf reports for the states of NJ and NC. I created these apps in Eclipse using Java. They are the first apps I have created using Java. I actually believe it might have been just as much work as using the Google App Inventor. I will now be creating all of my apps via Java from now on and doing some more advanced stuff in the future as I have time.

North Carolina Surf Reports App

New Jersey Surf Reports App