Posts by Adam Z. Lein

Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!

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    While most other platform developers, especially underdogs, might want to build upon their strengths while also strengthening their weaknesses, sometimes some good strengths get totally thrown out for no apparent reason.  We've written about Microsoft's tendency to remove features from their mobile operating system quite frequently. It seems to happen with every new significant upgrade and Windows Phone 8.1 is no exception. Remember when the Office hub lost the ability to edit files older than the 2007 format?  How about that ability to automatically sync music, videos, and pictures to ...

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    In some ways Microsoft's new speech UI, Cortana, has surpassed the speech interface of its competitors in iOS and Android.  Most people are going to be comparing Cortana to Siri and Google Now since those are the two other popular smartphone speech interfaces at the moment.  At Pocketnow, we know a little better and will be comparing Cortana to how she should work. Google and Apple are really quite new to the whole speech UI for smartphones thing.  Microsoft's old Windows Mobile smartphone operating system had a speech interface called Voice Command back in 2002.  Yeah, that was 12 ...

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    One of the big draws in getting a smart watch is being able to see all of your smartphone notifications with a quick glance at your wrist instead of having to take your phone out of your pocket.  Personally, I'm still not sold on the utility of this concept, but it does seem to be getting some traction and there are numerous new smart watch models coming out that all do different things in different ways.  I recently found a new smart watch manufacturer at a press event that I hadn't heard of before.  Martian Watches is making a new smart watch called the Martian Notifier that combines ...

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    With all of the excitement over the release of Microsoft's Office for iPad, the newly free-to-use versions of Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones, as well as the reveal of a touch-friendly version of Office for Windows 8 tablets at Microsoft's Build conference… it got me wondering if Windows Phone would ever see a more comprehensive version of Microsoft Office. Since Windows Phone 7 was released back in 2010, the only real changes to the mobile Office suit was removing OneNote from the Office hub and giving it its own app icon. Microsoft has said that the mobile Office is mainly ...

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    I remember back in 2002 when I first started using smartphones, everyone else was using iPods and flip phones. The iPods were for music and the little flip phones were for phone calls. I thought that was all pretty ridiculous since my phone could do all of that, plus play videos, browse real web pages, send/receive emails, sync my calendar & contacts, play games, etc. all on a large color screen at a time when iPods and cell phones had tiny greyscale screens. All of those devices had clocks on them so since everyone was carrying a phone and an iPod around at all times, the need for ...

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    I can understand why you would want a separate Facebook Messenger app on Apple's iOS or Android.  You might want a separate app so that you can launch directly into the messenger and see all of your chat conversations right away.  iOS and Android don't really support multiple entry points for the same app.  Windows Phone is different though.  I already have a Facebook messages tile pinned to my start screen and tapping that will go directly to my Facebook messages.  So what's the point of another app that does exactly the same thing as a live tile from an app that I already have?  ...

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    We've seen some leaks of the new Windows Phone action center that will be coming to Windows Phone 8.1 recently.  It's basically a screen where you can find all of the missed notifications, but also quickly access toggle buttons for things like WiFi power, Driving mode, etc.  The method to access this new action center is exactly the same as Android, which Apple also copied for iOS… swipe down from the top edge of the screen. Now, I am of the opinion that copying bad design is bad. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't make it right.  What's bad about swiping down from the ...

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    Ever since the iPad first started becoming popular, photographers have been searching for a way to integrate it with their professional workflows.  Unfortunately, the iPad really wasn't designed for professional workflows, so that has proven pretty difficult.  Instead, usually photographers wait until they can plug their camera memory cards into a laptop or desktop PC running something like Adobe Lightroom before they start working with the photos they shoot.  The problem with Lightroom is that you have to import everything into the database and that can be extremely time consuming.  ...

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    You may have heard the news recently that LogMeIn's free accounts are being discontinued.  I switched to LogMeIn for remote PC access back when Microsoft discontinued their super-awesome Live Mesh software which did a similar thing and much more.  Basically, you install the software on which ever computers you own and then you can use your single LogMeIn account to access those PCs remotely via the web or any of their mobile apps.  Now that LogMeIn is no longer free, it's time to find something else that will let me access my home personal computer periodically.  Goodbye LogMeIn. Hello ...

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    We heard recently that Microsoft's new speech interface codenamed "Cortana" might make use of the same voice used in the Halo video game series' Cortana character.  The character in the games is voiced by Jen Taylor and basically she's an artificial intelligence system that helps out the player at different points during the game's story.  Cortana is considered a "smart" artificial intelligence since her creative matrix is allowed to expand where as "dumb" AI systems retain a limited creative matrix. The Cortana interface for Windows Phone is expected to be available in beta come April ...

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    The Nokia Lumia 1020 just received an update last week that enables RAW Adobe DNG file format support when taking photos. There is a new option that you can select in the Nokia Camera app's settings area. It's not on by default of course, but the new option enables each shot to save a 5 megapixel JPG plus a full resolution 38 megapixel Adobe Digital Negative RAW file. Now before you go turning it on and trying it out, in order to take advantage of the RAW file format, you'll need a good RAW image editor on your PC. Personally, I prefer the Adobe Camera RAW plug-in for Photoshop and Bridge, ...

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    There are a lot of people out there that absolutely hate Windows 8.1. Most of the critics out there on the internet harp on about a handful of things that are pretty easy to overcome once you put some time into learning the operating system. I've been using Windows 8.1 since it was in beta, and I've been using the final version since it was released to manufacturing, so I've had a good amount of time to get used to the new features and learn all about them. There are a lot of things that I absolutely love about the new operating system, but there are also a number of things that I really ...

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    Windows 8.1 has been around for a couple months now and there's lots of new tablets, laptops, and PCs available for the holiday season. As you know, Windows 8 was met with lots of criticism for being so different and Windows 8.1 was designed to appease some of those issues and improve upon some others. There are many changes in Windows 8.1; some of them you'll love, some of them you might hate, and some that might take a while to get used to. I've been using it since it was in beta, and I've been using the final version since it was released to manufacturing, so I've had a good amount of ...

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    Back in 2010, Microsoft's Zune Pass was hands-down the most innovative player in the music services industry. Unfortunately nobody really noticed and the service has been losing its limbs one by one over the years. Luckily there's a new kid in town putting some major innovation into the music services market. It's just a coincidence that Microsoft is in the process of buying this company. Last week Nokia launched a new free "MixRadio" app for its Lumia Windows Phones. At first you might think it's a simple rebranding of the previous "Nokia Music" app and in some ways it is, but in other ...

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    There are a lot of rumors going around that Microsoft might eventually merge Windows RT with the Windows Phone operating system.  In many ways this makes sense.  Both are designed for the ARM processors while full Windows 8.x is still designed for the x86/x64 processors of the PC world.     We have no idea when or if Microsoft really intends to merge Windows Phone with the Windows RT operating system, but there seem to be quite a few hurdles that would be necessary to overcome.  Right now, Windows RT is exactly the same as the full Windows 8.x operating system except for the fact ...

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    There's a new Xbox SmartGlass app available for Windows Phone that's made for the Xbox One. It's kind of strange that you need a completely different SmartGlass app for the new Xbox One vs. the old app for the Xbox 360, but it makes sense that the new version is completely redesigned to offer many more features.  We don't have an Xbox One to test it on just yet, but according to the screenshots, it looks like there's some great new functionality such as volume control.  Having to pick up a TV remote with the Xbox 360 in order to control the audio volume or turn off the TV was so ...

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    Back at the launch of the Nokia Lumia 1020 in New York City, I was taking a few pictures with my Nokia Lumia 810 and the lead program manager for Nokia's new camera software approached me and we started talking.  I asked him about RAW support in professional photography software like Adobe Lightroom and Bridge. I already knew that they had implemented a non-destructive cropping mechanism which reminded me of exactly how non-destructive cropping works with RAW photo software on my desktop and Surface Pro tablet. I figured Nokia's cropping info could be translated into the sidecar metadata ...

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    You may have noticed recently that T-Mobile's new CEO John Legere has been shaking up the mobile phone service carrier business quite a bit lately. T-Mobile just recently announced free unlimited international roaming for data and text messaging services; something that has been unheard of until now. And even more recently, they've announced free LTE data plans for tablets that will give you 200Mb of data per month for life. That's another crazy awesome thing that's never been done before. They've also totally dropped the old contract-model where carriers would try to trick you into ...

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    Last night was the midnight launch event for the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 which happened in a number of select Microsoft Stores.  We decided to check out the party in White Plains, New York, and got to take a look at the new Surface 2, Surface Pro 2, as well as the new type covers and touch covers.  Check out the video below for our quick "Hands on" video of the new tablets. The Surface 2 feels very thin and light. The new silver metal color looks great and the new 2-stage kickstand will help to adjust the screen for the right angle when using the device from a lower position.  ...

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    The Windows Phone 8 GDR 3 update was released as a preview for developers just recently, so in this video we're going to take a look at some of the new features. The update isn't terribly large, but there are some significant changes.  Check out the video below to see all of the new features. I'm going to start with my favorite new feature.  With Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8 GDR3 you can now access internet sharing without having to go into the phone settings, turn it on, and look up the password.  I've paired my Nokia Lumia 925 with my Surface Pro using Bluetooth and now even if I ...

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    The latest update to Windows Phone 8 was just announced today, but more importantly, a method for enthusiasts and developers who want to void the warranty on their phone for the privilege to install the update right away (instead of having to wait for their carriers to approve the update) has also become available.  We heard about this program a while back, but now it's finally come to fruition.  Having to wait for carriers to approve and allow the distribution of Windows Phone operating system updates has always been extremely frustrating for users.  Of course, the carriers want the ...

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    It seems like in the world of technology writers, many don't really know much or anything about Windows Phone.  A good example is CNET's executive editor Molly Wood who's review of the Nokia Lumia 1020 is full of completely inaccurate information (WPCentral's Daniel Rubino points this out pretty nicely.)  You'll see similar critiques around the web and many focus on things like "Not enough apps" or "there's no Instagram".  Repeating those makes you sound like you're just copy/pasting critiques from somewhere else.  The Instagram issue isn't even true.  Yes, the official Instagram app ...

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    What's going on in the world of mobile technology at Comic-Con 2013 in New York City? We wanted to find out. First off, Thursday night Fincon threw a party celebrating the launch of their new free-to-play mobile role playing game called "Hello Hero".  This will soon be available on iOS, Android, and Facebook with cross-platform multiplayer capabilities, hundreds of hero characters, multiple game play modes, great 3D graphics and even community boss battles. On the show floor, we found plenty of fun mobile tablet stuff as well. At the Wacom booth I really wanted to try out the new ...

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    Two of Dell's newly announced tablets happen to be very similar; the Venue 8 and the Venue 8 Pro. These are both 8 inch tablets optimized for portrait orientation usage, but the biggest difference is that the Venue 8 is running Android 4.2 while the Venue 8 Pro is running the full Windows 8.1. Both have 1280 x 800 displays and 2GB of RAM, but the Android version has an Intel Clover Trail Plus Atom SoC while the Venue 8 Pro has an Intel Bay Trail Atom processor. Another big difference is the price. The Android tablet is about $180 while the Windows 8.1 tablet is about $300. The Venue 8 Pro ...

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    Another one of the new tablets that Dell announced is the Dell Venue 11 Pro.  This one has a nice 11 inch screen which would be better for desktop applications compared to the smaller Venue 8 Pro. The tablet includes options for Atom or Core i3/i5 Haswell chips, a 10.8-inch 1080p display, and 2GB of RAM (with up to 8GB available). Storage starts at 32GB (going up to 256GB), and this tablet measures 10mm thick and weighs 1.57 pounds. The base Venue 11 Pro will go for just about $500. Separate accessories include a Touch Cover-like keyboard, as well a docking station, and a hard hinged ...

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