The countdown to the opening of the newest “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has officially begun! This week saw the release of a new trailer, an official movie poster, and pre-sale tickets. One thing noticeably absent from all the hoopla: Luke Skywalker. Also on the show, El Kaiser delivers his annual “State of the Podcast” rant and J.D. takes a look at note taking apps for mobile devices. Oh yeah, and we lots and lots of tech news.
We all have times when we need to jot down a few notes on the go. To-do list items and appointments are one thing, but notes are more: the name of a contractor, the model number of a thing you want to buy, a story idea, a recipe or paint color at the hardware store. And it’s even cooler when you can sync up your mobile thoughts with your desktop like. Here are four multi-platform apps to consider:
• Evernote is the pretty much the good standard for many a jotter — or people collaborating across different platforms on a project. Evernote works on most mobile and desktop systems and you can sync your notes and projects across them all. You can save webpages, email, audio clips, photos, charts, chats and more in your Evernote projects. It also has an extensive help section with videos, three levels of service — from free to paid to even more paid.
• Microsoft OneNote is another established digital notes-taking app that works on most major mobile and desktop platforms. It’s free and you can save mail, webpages and photos into it, plus it has integration with other apps like WordPress, Chegg, Feedly and several scanning apps. Microsoft also just announced this week that OneNote has formed a partnership with FiftyThree to support its Paper app and Pencil stylus. (OneNote will also work with the Apple Pencil, whenever that fancy $100 stick rolls into town.)
• Google Keep is the notes ‘n’ lists app for Google and Android users and stores your various types of thoughts in colorful boxes within the app on screen. If inspiration strikes, you can dictate your thoughts into the app, too. It’s all tied to your Google account, so you can get to all your kept items tucked away in the program through phone, tablet, computer or Android wearables.
• iOS 9 Notes from Apple is a major improvement over the limited notepad app that’s been in iOS since 2007. You can whip up to-do lists and checklists if you want, but you can also doodle or sketch with your finger, add maps, photos, webpages and text to your notes. And if you’re hooked into iCloud, the service will sync all your notes across your Mac and other iOS devices.
Plenty of other note-taking apps are out there to consider too. No matter which one you use, odds are it’s going to be more versatile than the scraps of paper we grew up using — and often losing.
Hate unauthorized robocalls on your cellphone that eat into your monthly minutes? The Federal Communications Commission has issued citations to two big political robocall companies accused of spewing audio spam to mobile numbers in 2011 and 2012. The firms could face up to $4.8 million in fines for this particular investigation. FCC rules and the Communications Act ban robocalls to mobile phones unless the recipient has given permission to be contacted by the company doing the calling or unless the call is part of an emergency information system. (Dirty tricks are an unfortunate part of politics and it appears there was even a cyberattack on the online election system last fall. )
Samsung finally whipped the veil off its Galaxy S4 smartphone last week and the fancy new model should be on sale by the end of April. The Android-based Galaxy S4 is bringing Samsung a lot of attention for its hardware design, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that some Google executives are getting worried about that because it may mean Samsung wants to horn in on mobile-search revenue. Samsung has been tinkering around with its own mobile operating system as well.
Google itself it keeping busy and is said to be working on a new note-taking app called Google Keep that works a bit like the popular Evernote service and uses its own Google Drive cloud storage system. Some sources are also saying the company will soon be unifying its multiple messaging services — which include Google Talk, Hangout, Voice, Messenger, Chat for Drive collaboration, and the Google Talk for G+ — into one fresh new service called Babble that can go up against Apple’s iMessage service and BlackBerry Messenger. Google’s recent decision to kill off Google Reader has proven to be good news for the Feedly RSS service. The Los Angeles Times and others have reported that Feedly gained half-a-million users after Google announced it was dumping Reader and robbing the faithful of their favorite RSS software.
Electronic Arts says that customers who buy and register SimCity 5 before March 26 can choose a free game from a selection of EA digital downloads including Mass Effect 3, Plants vs Zombies and Bejeweled 3. Since SimCity 5 arrived in early March, many players have blamed the “always online” requirement for causing bugs, in-game glitches, crashes and long waits to even get on to play the game. Electronic Arts is also investigating a security issue with Origin, its online distribution system. Security researchers have experimented with exploiting a loophole in the way Origin handles links to games users have downloaded and installed, and they’ve been able to make it run code that compromised a target machine. (On a happier note, visitors to New York’s Museum of Modern Art can now see SimCity 2000 on display, along with several other classic games in the Applied Design exhibit.)
Microsoft would like you to update your Windows 7 machine to Windows 7 Service Pack 1 if you haven’t already done so. If not, Microsoft will start doing it for you this week as part of Windows Update. Microsoft has also stamped an end of mainstream-support date of July 8th, 2014 for its Windows Phone 8 software, which has started speculation that Windows Phone 9 may be on the way soon. And over in Cupertino, Apple released iOS 6.1.3 this week to fix a pesky flaw that knowledgeable intruders can use to blow by the lock screen.
And finally, Verizon could be to changing up the way it charges its customers for channel subscriptions on its FiOS TV service. The company would like to charge subscribers just for the channels they actually watch. This move could potentially weed out little-watched channels from the lineup, change how Verizon pays networks for their shows and make for more stable pricing. It could also make room for newer, more interesting channels. (Yo, Disney, how about a 24-hour Star Wars channel?)