Apple’s voice-activated assistant is now a well-known personality in his/her own right, but unless you’ve taken the time to dig into all the features that Siri offers you might not realize just now capable it is (particularly since the arrival of iOS 7). Here are seven ways to get Siri working harder for you. Siri can not only “turn off Bluetooth” but will also help you find a setting if you don’t know where it’s located. Try asking to “change the font size” or “adjust the screen brightness” or “edit Safari settings,” and Siri will direct you to the right options page, with no need for you to search through screens yourself. Call up the app if you want to reconfigure your iOS gadget but aren’t sure where the option is (or don’t want to go through multiple taps to find it).
Read the full story at Gizmodo.
MIT’s CSAIL lab has just taken its very cool but kinda creepy WiFi motion tracking to a new level: monitoring your vital signs from another room. Last we saw, the same researchers bounced low-powered WiFi signals (100x less than a home router) off of individuals to finely track their position behind a wall. The resulting 10cm (four inch) precision was nothing compared to what they can now do, however. Fancier algorithms enabled the system to approximate subjects’ volumes within millimeters, and then calculate their breathing level by amplifying and observing the subtle changes over time. From breathing levels, the researchers could extrapolate heart rate with 99 percent accuracy – something foreshadowed uncannily by earlier research. The tech may lead to non-invasive vital sign monitoring, more advanced baby monitors and other, more sinister, applications.
Read the full story at Engadget.
Japanese watchmaker Yamasa Tokei had a cool idea: a small wearable device that uses the natural motions of your body to keep track of how many steps you take. Tokei called his device the Manpo-Kei, roughly translated as “10,000-step meter.” That was almost 50 years ago. The problem is that, since then, the pitch for fitness trackers has barely changed. The curtailing of Nike’s Fuelband highlights the problem when wearable tech doesn’t offer enough that’s new to justify its existence. Keeping track of your steps in an app or getting a badge when you reach a goal might not be enough to justify the purchase of a new piece of hardware, or more importantly to really change your habits for the better. The real power of wearables is more likely to lie not in the devices themselves but in the underlying software layer that integrates your own activity with data from other, seemingly disparate sources.
Read the full story at Wired.
The numbers are now in and Apple crushed estimates, having managed a fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $8.26 per share on $37.5 billion in sales. Apple’s September-quarter results certainly fall in line with the trend we’ve been seeing recently as the breakneck growth Apple has enjoyed in recent years continues to slow. In the year-ago quarter, Apple posted an $8.2 billion profit on revenue totaling $36 billion. Apple’s record profit in that quarter represented 24% year-over-year growth, and revenue was up 27% between the fiscal fourth quarters in 2012 and 2011. The star of the show is always Apple’s iPhone lineup, of course, and analysts were expecting the company to sell 31 million units in the September quarter – though some estimates reached as high as 36 million units. Apple reported on Monday that actual FQ4 2013 iPhone sales totaled 33.8 million handsets, beating estimates and growing an impressive 26% over the September quarter in 2012.
Read the full story at Boy Genius Report.
It certainly won’t be as gold as some iPhones, but a new report claims Apple’s next-generation iPhone 5S will be available in a new color for the first time since Apple moved from one color option to two on the iPhone 3G. Plugged-in KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo has a solid track record when it comes to scooping unannounced Apple devices and he’s back again ahead of Apple’s upcoming September 10th iPhone event. Remember those gold-colored SIM trays pictured in an exclusive BGR report back in May? Well Kuo says Apple is indeed planning to launch the iPhone 5S with a new gold color option. It won’t be quite as flashy as BGR’s gold iPhone, pictured above, but it could be a nice way to promote upgrades among current iPhone 5 owners.
Read the full story at Boy Genius Report.
A tech-savvy hospital in Boston developed a custom information-retrieval system for Google Glass, which lets ER doctors scan a QR code on the wall of each room to call up information about patients. Dr. John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, described the system today in his blog (a cached version is here as the original link seems to be having problems): “In the Emergency Department, we’ve developed a prototype of a new information system using Google Glass, a high tech pair of glasses that includes a video camera, video screen, speaker, microphone, touch pad, and motion sensor. Here’s how it works. When a clinician walks into an emergency department room, he or she looks at [a] bar code (a QR or Quick Response code) placed on the wall. Google Glass immediately recognizes the room and then the ED Dashboard sends information about the patient in that room to the glasses, appearing in the clinician’s field of vision.”
Read the full story at Ars Technica.
The people who read our site are a pretty savvy lot. You know not to accept checks from distant princes. You can spot a phisher from a mile away. But here’s one that might be new for you: scammers are apparently trying to exploit your “missed call” screen, now. The scam, simplified: They call you, but immediately hang up. You see a missed call. You call back. They charge you for the call, and for each minute they can keep you on the line. According to the BBB, this so-called “One Ring” scam is on the rise. Like many a ruse, this one relies on hitting many, many potential targets at once. The scammer sets up a computer to call thousands of numbers per hour – because for every 99 people who follow their gut and don’t call weird numbers, there’s 1 person who will. Maybe they’re waiting for response on a job interview, and don’t know what number it’ll come from.
Read the full story at TechCrunch.
It seems like everyone is going “un-carrier” these days, slowly branching out from the standard two-year contracts that have dominated the US smartphone industry for the last few years. Today AT&T announced a new “Mobile Share Value Plan” for families and small businesses, which gives both new and existing AT&T customers the opportunity to share unlimited talk and text and a 10GB pool of data starting at $130 a month. AT&T’s pricing table indicates that you’ll be paying $100 for the 10GB of data and $15 for each phone you connect-three lines will run you $145 a month, four will cost $160, and so on up to a total of 10 lines for $250 a month. New-to-AT&T customers who want to take advantage of the new pricing will either need to sign up for AT&T’s Next program, bring their own unlocked devices, or buy phones at the standard unsubsidized price.
Read the full story at Ars Technica.
Uber, the San Francisco start-up that gained something of a cult following by helping people summon a luxury sedan with a smartphone app, is trying something new for people who ride with friends. It said on Monday that it would add the ability to split fares between multiple passengers with a few button taps. The fare-splitting feature will become available when iPhone and Android users download a software update. To split a fare, a user requests a ride and then taps an arrow next to the driver’s information. An option labeled “Split fare” will show up, and the user can select friends from his or her address book. The friends then receive a text message from Uber with a link to tap on. Those who are registered with Uber will be directed to the app, and those who are not will be asked to downloaded the app, sign up for an account and enter their credit card information. The app will take care of the payment at the end of the trip.
Read the full story at the New York Times.
Rather than “rethinking possible,” AT&T is rethinking its plans, as it becomes the latest wireless carrier to offer customers the option to upgrade their phones more frequently. Starting July 26, AT&T will offer new “Next” plans for smartphones and tablets, on a post-paid basis. The plan allows customers to trade in their devices (feature phones excluded) every 12 months, provided the customer pays a monthly installment fee based on a 20-month cycle. So, you would take the full retail price of a smartphone or tablet, divide it by 20 and add that cost to your monthly traditional or family-share AT&T plan. Twelve months later, you trade in that device for a new one, and a new cycle begins. If you decide you want a new phone before the 12 months is up, Next owners still owe the cost of the remaining months’ fees.
Read the full story at All Things D.