Your smartphone’s built-in communications apps may not be the best. These alternatives offer additional features and capabilities.
This secure, speedy messaging app offers group chats with up to 100 people, photo and video sharing, and unlimited cloud storage of messages. Free (Android, iOS)
Even if your phone’s in silent, do-not-disturb mode, this app can get an emergency message to you—but only from callers you’ve preselected, who must prove a situation is truly important. US$24 per year plus airtime (Android).
Make HD voice calls and video calls and send texts between smartphones, computers (Windows, Mac, or Linux), and landlines. Transfer and sync calls and messages. Free (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry).
Instantly communicate with this push-to-talk walkie-talkie app—one-on-one or with groups. (If a contact isn’t online, your message will play back later.) Free; pro version for US$2.99/month (Android, iOS, Windows Phone).
One thousand smartphone users between 18 and 65 in the continental US were asked in what situations they prefer to talk (and receive or leave voicemail) versus text.
Sharing bad news 80% are more likely to use voice rather than text-based messaging when sharing bad news
Communicating with a customer 74% prefer to receive news from businesses via voicemail rather than by text-based messages
An emergency 57% say it’s perfectly acceptable to leave a voicemail when making an emergency call
Sharing good news 66% prefer to receive news from a close friend via text-based message rather than by voicemail
Getting in touch with a significant other 62% of males prefer to receive text-based news from their significant others rather than through voicemail
Convenience 85% find text-based messages more convenient than voicemails
Yes, video cameras are great monitoring tools for home security, but how do you know when to look at the camera feeds? The Canary is an unobtrusive wireless home security device that bundles a camera, a microphone, a motion detector, and a variety of sensors in a package about the size and shape of a large soup can. Connect Canary to your home Wi-Fi, and it sends alerts to your smartphone when something’s amiss—strange sounds, unexpected motion (it learns over time when you’re home and not), temperature or humidity spikes, and so on. From the companion app you can listen (or talk) to a room, check the camera, set off Canary’s built-in siren, and more. US$199.
The ways US consumers use smartphones when shopping in stores varies by age. The 25–34 age group was most aggressive in comparing prices and buying elsewhere. One thousand US residents were surveyed online. Source: Omnico Group
Tired of bringing—and hauling—many pounds of backup batteries for your off-the-grid adventures? The hydrogen-powered Upp fuel cell delivers off-the-grid USB charging power for smartphones, tablets, cameras, and other electronics. Measuring just 5 inches (124.5 mm) long and weighing less than 1.5 pounds (including the exchangeable hydrogen cartridge), Upp is rated at 5 watts (one fuel cartridge provides 25 watt-hours of charging capacity) and the companion app monitors fuel level and usage. US$199.
Nearly 75 percent of executives say they lose interest within one minute if a presentation doesn’t have a clear point, and some 43 percent abandon complicated or lengthy e-mails within 30 seconds. One thousand execs participated in the online survey. Source: BRIEF Lab