On this episode, El Kaiser and J.D. catch up after an unintentional hiatus to discuss current events — including Elon Musk’s fluctuating deal to buy Twitter, the rapid demise of CNN+ and Apple’s decision to retire the iPod after 21 years. Spin up PTJ 363 right here!
The streaming-music service Spotify held a press event last week to announce it was expanding into podcasts and video clips. Some detractors have pointed out that Spotify’s audience uses the service as a background medium and a soundtrack to doing something else, which is harder to do with video because it requires direct attention.
Instagram wants your attention and has been sending out a regular Highlights message that shows off recent pictures from the people you follow on Instagram. It really hopes you’ll be intrigued enough to start using your account again.
Netflix has given itself a redesign for the first time in four years. The changes include showing more information about shows you might want to watch, better presentation for the tons of Netflix options available and an enhanced recommendation engine.
Microsoft wants everyone to love its upcoming Windows 10 system! For those of you who do not have Windows Phones, the company has announced a companion app for Android and iOS phones that will let you connect your device to your PC. Once installed, the Phone Companion app will make sure photos you take with your phone get saved back to the computer by way of OneDrive and notes, music and Office documents can be used between the two. Microsoft also announced a standalone Cortana app for Android and iOS. Watch your back in the App Store and Google Play store, Cortana.
NASA’s Dawn probe has been taking a close view of Ceres and discovered some curious lights on the surface of the dwarf planet last month. So now NASA has put up an online poll asking members of the public what they think those bright spots may be.
If you have a preferred weather or traffic app on your phone, this is the season to fire up those notifications because Mother Nature has a way of throwing a hissy fit and disrupting your plans. If there’s a storm on the way, a highway closed or a train line suspended, odds are you’d like to know about it ahead of time, right? Most specialized apps can be configured to push out alerts to warn you of impending events, so have them ping you when something’s up. Most major mobile platforms — Android, iOS and Windows Phone — let you configure notifications so you can turn them on and when you want.
As for traffic and transit, popular cross-platform apps like Inrix and Waze are good sources of highway and road information. If you do have to be out driving in bad weather, make sure you have an emergency kit in the trunk. The professional winter states of Wisconsin and Minnesota have especially good advice on this topic, and you can buy pre-made collections, like the AAA’s own Severe Weather Travel Kit. If you don’t have one already, it’s a good idea to get a car charger for your phone — just in case.
Weather emergencies can seriously affect mass-transit systems as well, and some more than others. (Seriously, have you ever tried to get around the DC Metro during a snow storm?) If you’re riding the rails, the iTrans app for iOS is available for several cities and offers service alerts. There’s also the Transit app for Android and iOS. If you’re a New Yorker, the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority has a whole page of mobile apps for various phone platforms to check out.
Other information sources, like Google Now (if it has your commute in its list of info cards) and Twitter’s emergency alerts can also be useful. And don’t forget, if you’re trying to fly out for a nice vacation in a warm place, get your airline’s app and sign up for alerts that may affect your flight.
It’s winter and in much of the country, that means the roads are a giant asphalt Slushee out there, so let’s be careful. In fact, let’s just stay home and watch some more Agent Carter.
On a supersized episode of everybody’s favorite geek-culture podcast El Kaiser takes a turn at hopefully being helpful by detailing the steps to avoid a malware infection. With social networks making spoilers a legitimate concern for all TV watchers, J.D. introduces us to some apps that can help keep second screens from spoiling what’s on the first. In the news, more of the world gets online access and some companies help bring less expensive Internet access to developing countries; the Gold Master of OS X Mavericks is made available to developers; rumors point to Amazon releasing a set top box to compete with the Apple TV and Roku devices; Google and Hewlett Packard announce the HP Chromebook 11; and Yahoo gets to blow out 16 candles.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear is now out and receiving fair to middling reviews, and the rollout of smartwatches from other companies continues. The Filip smartwatch for kids — which also serves as a simple mobile phone between parent and child — is headed for AT&T.
And finally, we here at Pop Tech Jam would like to congratulate Peter Higgs and François Englert on winning the Nobel prize in physics for their work on the theory of the Higgs boson. Awesome boson, dudes!
Another Comic-Con International is in the books but despite it being held in the City of Motion it was Tinseltown that grabbed the headlines at the convention. In the news, Netflix added 630,000 subscribers but Wall Street is still disappointed; the United Kingdom moves to block online pornography; a German security expert is warning of a flaw in SIM card technology; the Leap Motion controller finally begins shipping; Apple confirm that people are indeed still listening to podcasts; researchers get one step closer to building Replicants and a Holodeck; and you can donate the spare processing power from your Android device for a worthy cause.
HopStop, for those who haven’t had it save the bacon in a strange land, offers up door-to-door transit, walking, biking, and taxi directions in over 300 cities worldwide. No word on what Apple plans to do with the service (besides nuking the Windows Phone app version), but here’s hoping the transit directions get folded into the Apple Maps app so we all don’t have to refer to other apps to figure out our train plan. So go download the app or check out the mobile site now.
But if HopStop isn’t your thing, what else can you use to navigate the labyrinth of a major metropolitan mass transit system and not get lost for days?
If you have an iPhone, you can get free maps and directions for 12 major transit systems with Embark for iOS. Boston, Chicago, London, Long Island, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC and most importantly, New York are among the cities serviced here. And Embark does not require an Internet connection so you can use it when you’re on a platform underground trying to figure out which train to take when the one you need is out of service. There’s also a free version for the Embark NYC Subway for Android.
Lest we forget, Google Maps for Android and iOS. The old reliable app includes transit guides for many cities and all kinds of navigational bells and whistles like audio turn-by-turn directions.
If you’re traveling or just want a really good pocket guide for your own hometown, check your phone’s app store and search for transit apps and local guides for specific cities. And while you’re loading up your phone with your transit app of choice, don’t forget to throw a few appropriate tunes on there as well. Safe travels, yo.
The independent audio magazine devoted to mashing up pop culture, technology and more. J.D. Biersdorfer and Pedro Rafael Rosado are your hosts. It's an Internet Radio revolution!