Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Welcome back to the Car-tel Communications blog! Being the holiday season, we have some really great gift ideas to share and applications that will help you get through the season merrily. When I think of the holidays, I think shopping, traveling, food and of course, time spent with family. With that being said, I wanted to share the staff picks for the best apps in those categories and tell you a little bit about why they're going to work for this season.

Top Shopping app: Smoopa.
Why? There are tons of apps out there that allow you to scan a bar code and compare pricing, set up alerts on an item you want and the like. With Smoopa, a green light will appear when the item you've scanned is the lowest possible price. Likewise, a yellow will appear to warn you that another location has a better deal. Visually, this is clear and when we're out shopping the easiest visual indication of a deal is whats best. BUT, this is not our favorite reason for loving this app. What is? Well, this app allows you to earn rewards for your purchases in the form of cash rebates, gift cards, or charity donations. Pretty sweet, huh?

Top Traveling app: Expedia.
Why? Expedia allows you to book flight, hotel, and car reservations all in one spot with the lowest price around. For anyone who has ever used the Expedia website, the app is just as accessible, easy to use and effective. You can purchase your reservation directly in the application and it saves all of your payment and confirmation information.

Top Cooking app: Foodily
Why? Because Foodily is like Pinterest for recipes only! Foodily is the world’s largest social recipe network where you can discover and share any recipe on the web, including your own. Use Foodily to keep track of all the recipes you love in one complete recipe box. Get ideas everyday by following friends and experts like Wolfgang Puck and Cat Cora.

Top Family-Time App: Cabin
Why? This holiday season is all about making memories and with this app, it's super easy. Cabin is a private networking app that requires an invite to access the photos and information being sent out. Posts are made for everyone in the group so no one misses a minute! Create tasks for yourself and others and find out where your loved ones are with the family locator tool.

Our gift picks for this month are pretty awesome and great for anyone you need to buy for! My personal favorite is the Jabra SoleMate Mini. This bluetooth speaker packs a big punch in a small package. The durable rubber outside material allows for you to take this speaker with you indoors and out. With 8 hours of battery time, a day at the beach on your Christmas vacation has just gotten that much better! At a great price of $99 this gift is great for the music lover in your family.

The other great gift this year is a power accessory for your smartphone. Ventev offers a car charger that allows you and your driving companion to charge your devices at the same time. Whenever I've been on a road trip I needed to bargain for charging time with the driver and other passengers since there generally only one USB port. With the dashport 2100 car charger you can charge two devices at the same time without loosing any of the charging power so your phone or tablet will charge at the same rate as if there was only one device charging. How convenient is that?! And at a great price of $24.99, ya can't beat it!

Keep checking back at the Car-tel Communications blog for new application suggestions and more exciting updates!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Green Friendly Apps for Summer 2013

Summer is here! You're probably looking forward to barbeques, sunblock and lemonade but don't forget to think about energy efficiency. It's easier than ever to save energy with these smartphone apps:

JouleBug is an energy savings game that pushes you to set good energy habits by observing how you act throughout your typical day. Players can earn reward badges as they change their habits, and can play with friends or individually. Free on iTunes.

If you need a good reason to be concerned about energy efficiency, the Just Science app is for you. Rather than just talking about the effects of global warming, this app shows them by showing recorded changes in land temperature from the past several centuries on a user-friendly color-coded map. Get it for free on iTunes.

Green Outlet helps you figure out which household appliances use the most energy in your home. The app allows you to calculate your average monthly energy cost, and even purchase carbon offsets from when you have exceeded your recommended carbon footprint. Available on iTunes for 99 cents.

GasBuddy makes it easy for you to save your dollars at the pump by searching for the cheapest gas prices in your area. You can also use this app to find cheap fuel while on a road trip, or headed down the shore. Free on iTunes and Google Play.

What's your favorite app for the summer months?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Staying Strong With FitBit One and Apps for Healthy Living

fitbit one, national fitness month, car-tel communicationsThe Car-Tel Communications team is "all pumped up" over National Fitness Month! In early May we started a fitness initiative to increase awareness about health and encourage our employees to stay active.Our focus is on staying strong, not skinny and we are using the FitBit One to track activity and sleeping patterns. Our fitness initiative will be ongoing for the next few months - you can keep tabs on our progress over at the Car-Tel Facebook page!

Whether you live at the gym or haven't been there in months, we know your health is important to you and we want to help you stay fit and healthy. You can check out the FitBit One at any of our stores in the coming months, and try these great apps that will help you shape up for less than the cost of your gym membership:

Skimble's Workout Trainer offer thousands of free workouts and programs to help you get in shape. Choose your practice from options like running, yoga, losing weight or building muscle.

Yoginis will love Daily Yoga All-In-One for its more than 300 poses, 40 yoga sessions and varying levels of difficulty. Get started with Downward Facing Dog, or work on perfecting your Firefly Pose.

Whether you're training for your first 5k or trying to PR in your next marathon, MapMyRun will help you get there. Though not just for runners, this GPS app will track mileage, calories burned, and more. You can even post your progress to Facebook and Twitter.

Because staying healthy is about more than just working out, Fooducate helps you make smart choices about what you put into your body. Scan the UPC code for detailed nutritional information, and find alternative options to the junk food.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

5 Reasons the Samsung Galaxy S4 is Out of This World

The Samsung Galaxy S4 launches today and arrives in stores this Saturday. The Car-Tel Team couldn't be more excited! After the solid performance of the S3 we have no doubt this new generation will bring the A-game. Many are calling the S4 Samsung's flagship phone - we're calling it the mothership. Here are five reasons we think the Samsung Galaxy S4 is out of this world:

1. The S4 packs a jaw-dropping 13 mega-pixel back-facing camera. That's right, we said 13 MP. And it gets even better - the phone has a 2 MP dual camera which means you can record yourself simultaneously. We think you should try filming the next meteor shower.

2. If you're addicted to productivity apps (guilty!) you will love the S4's dual view feature that allows you to run multiple apps simultaneously. You can shop for space suits on one side of your screen while applying for a one-way mission to Mars on the other - or, if you're looking for something closer to home, tweet about the Phillies game while watching it live on your S4.

3. Gesture controls are yesterday's news - the Galaxy S4 comes equipped with eye control, giving you unprecedented flexibility when managing your apps, phone calls and music. The Smart Pause feature also detects your eye movements and pauses video playback when you are focused on something else.

4. The S4 boasts a 5 inch 1080p HD screen, allowing you to view high resolution HD shows, videos and movies in all their glory. The extra screen space also means you have a wider, easier keyboard to type on.

5. Samsung's S Beam takes NFC capability to the next level by offering the fastest and easiest way to transfer data just by tapping your phones to establish an immediate wi-fi connection. This phone transfers contact information, games and files at the speed of light.

We will be unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S4 this Saturday, April 27 at all our retail locations. Stop by and get in on the action!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Home is Where the HTC First Is

Have you heard about the new HTC First? The Car-Tel staff is excited about the world's first ever Facebook phone, released this past Friday. The HTC First was released with Facebook Home already installed, making it easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and family. Combined with an Android platform and the HTC hardware we all know and love, this phone will make you swoon.

Facebook Home is a user interface layer developed by Facebook that integrates your favorite social networking site deeply into the pocket-sized HTC First. You can browse news feeds and recent activity and use Chat Heads to communicate in real time with your best buds. Check out a quick demo here to understand how Chat Heads work:

The Facebook Home interface allows you to seamlessly navigate your Facebook applications and information without disrupting your other tasks. If you need some alone time with your HTC First and the Android platform, you can disable Facebook Home and enjoy the original Android experience - but we think you'll feel right at home with your new HTC out of the box. Visit one of our stores soon to check it out!

Have you already tested the HTC First and Facebook Home? What do you love about it?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Next "Next Big Thing" is Coming to AT&T

It's official - AT&T has announced that they will "bring the Galaxy S4 to the nation's fastest 4G LTE network," an exciting if not expected move considering they were "the first to deliver Samsung's Galaxy series." With over 40 million devices sold, Samsung's last model, the Galaxy S3, quickly became the world's most popular Android phone. Will the newest edition to the AT&T family of Samsung Galaxy devices outdo its predecessor? We think so. Here's why.

More Screen, Less Bulk
For starters, the 4.8" screen on the S3 has grown to a full 5" on the S4, yet the body of the phone has only increased in height while decreasing in width, thickness and weight. The "Full HD Super AMOLED" screen display is as dazzling as you'd expect at 1080p (that's 441 pixels per inch).

Smart and Entertaining
One of our favorite new features on the S4 is the ability to use the device as a remote control for your home entertainment system. Even cooler is Smart Pause, an almost unbelievable feature that uses eye-tracking technology to automatically pause a video when you look away, so you don't miss a thing.

Ditch all those Health and Fitness Apps - Now you Only Need One
The S4 comes with its own native health and fitness app called S Health, and it's actually very useful. It works as a pedometer, calorie counter, workout calendar, even a sleep monitor!

Air Gestures
You can preview lots of content on the S4 simply by hovering your finger over the screen - no touching required. Hover your finger a few centimeters over an email header and you can preview the body text, or magnify browser content. Pass your hand over the screen to scroll, switch tabs or skip music tracks. You can even answer calls with a simple wave!

Group Play
This is another one of our favorite features on the Galaxy S4. Group Play allows you to connect up to 8 devices, so you can play a variety of multi-player games with friends in real-time. The number of games that will work with this feature will initially be limited, but it's such a cool idea, we can't imagine the library won't grow fairly quickly after the device is launched.

Rory Kelsey, an avid Samsung user and Sales Representative at Car-Tel Communications' Center City location, anticipates the S4 as being potentially "the best" smartphone on the market to date:
Samsung’s Galaxy line of phones started off quite strong, but has since risen to the peak of smartphone innovation and beyond.  The Galaxy S4 is one of the best smartphones to date, if not the best, with its five inch screen, 1.9GHz processor and running Android’s latest iteration, Jellybean.  Despite coming to a point where innovation is accomplished mostly through software development rather than hardware, Samsung has found a way to distinguish itself once again in both arenas.  The device efficiently balances its blistering performance with solid battery life and a smooth, intuitive interface. 
Among its myriad of features, S Translate allows you to speak in one language and have the phone dictate in another; Smart stay and smart scroll can follow your eye movements to control the device, and its Siri-like voice recognition outdoes Siri without breaking a sweat.  Have an appointment across town? The phone will prepare your directions before you leave..  Running late to the train? Google Now automatically pulls up the next few departure times while you’re dashing to the station.  And to top it all off, “Air Gestures” allow you to control the phone without actually touching the screen.  There is no end to the list of features that make this smartphone so unique, and we haven’t even touched on its sleek, stylish exterior.  Clearly I could go on forever about the phone and barely scratch the surface, so you’ll have to come on in and check it out for yourself!
There's no word yet on a specific release date for the Samsung Galaxy S4, but we can't wait to get our hands on one. If you're waiting for the launch date with the same anticipation, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, and you'll know when we know!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

6 Unique Features of the New BlackBerry Z10

"I am really looking forward to the Blackberry Z10. It's a very get-to-the-point type of device. It's like having a personal secretary, especially with the customization and features this phone will offer. Plus I am highly looking forward to the new camera features!" - Lindsey Achuff, Sales Representative at Car-Tel Communications, Delran
BlackBerry is back! After briefly stepping out of the smartphone game (they haven't released a new model on AT&T since the Bold 9900), RIM has dropped their company name and has fully committed to the BlackBerry brand. They've updated their signature smartphone concept, and are finally back on the scene with the release of the BlackBerry Z10 slated for this coming weekend. 

BlackBerry Z10, available March 22 for AT&T customers

One reason BlackBerry loyalists have championed the brand over Apple and Android is the alternative operating system. BlackBerry 10 has been "re-designed, re-engineered and re-invented" to offer customers a faster and smarter new platform that will continuously adapt to their needs. Rory Kelsey, Sales Representative at Car-Tel Communications' Center City location, has been anticipating BlackBerry's new operating system for months, and accordingly, has a lot to say about it:
"Blackberry's Z10 and the new BB10 operating system is based on a complete redesign of the platform and incorporates features that the handset maker has been working on for years. They acquired the QNX platform in 2010, which is used in everything from vending machines to fighter jets, and built their new OS on that foundation.  It is one of the most reliable and respected systems in the entire tech industry, and BlackBerry has put together a great piece of hardware to run it. The phone and OS are stylish, sophisticated and more intuitive than on any BlackBerry we've ever seen, with integrated email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter and BBM. The screen is higher resolution than the iPhone's touted "Retina" display, and the virtual keyboard is completely revolutionary. There is no doubt it will be a contender against the 3 smartphone giants, Apple, Android and Windows phone, and BlackBerry has made it clear that they are in it to win it."
Here are 6 of the most exciting new features available on the BlackBerry Z10:

BlackBerry Hub is a convenient new component of the BlackBerry OS, acting as a central location for your emails and other messages. You can use a simple swipe gesture from any app to quickly peek at your hub, and easily go back to what you were doing.

BlackBerry Touchscreen Keyboard learns how you write, and adapts to your own personal typing style so you can communicate faster and with more accuracy.

BBM Video and Screen Share are new advances made to BlackBerry Messenger, a traditional feature of the brand's devices about which enthusiasts have raved for a long time. Now you can chat face to face with your BBM friends, and even share your screen content.

Time Shift and BlackBerry Story Maker make taking photos and creating memories easier than ever. Time Shift is a very cool, unique feature that captures the moments before and after you snap a photo, so you can choose the best shot. Story Maker lets you sequence those moments to create a video with just a few swipes.

BlackBerry Balance lets you seamlessly switch between using your Z10 for work and your personal life without compromising the security of your business-related content when connected to BlackBerry Enterprise.

BlackBerry Enterprise Service provides AT&T business and government customers with secure access to work email, firewall-protected apps and data, and offers other security and management features

We are very excited for this weekend's launch of the fastest and most advanced BlackBerry device yet! Get yours at your local Car-Tel AT&T store, or come visit any time for a demo of the new BlackBerry Z10.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Putting Food on the Kitchen Tablet

There are now literally thousands of cooking apps available in the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone markets. While the paperless shopping list is arguably one of the best conveniences of smartphones, the small screen can be somewhat limiting when using a cookbook app in the kitchen. If you're an avid cook, replacing your cookbooks with a tablet will change the way you use your kitchen. Here are a couple of free cooking apps I love.

My CookBook
No more cruddy cookbook pages that stick together with remnants of meals you cooked years ago. This is the only app that lets you build your own personal recipe database, and it's super easy to use on an Android tablet. You can search for recipes, import ones you like from the web, add photos, customize ingredients and serving sizes, post recipes to Facebook, and even use the speech feature to have a recipe read to you while you cook. It's free to download and well reviewed.

iFood Assistant
Designed specifically for your Android Tablet, this app features over 7,000 recipes, the ability to cinch with your shopping list, and easy how-to videos you can follow along with while you're cooking. Also free to download and well reviewed by other users.

Experiencing these apps on an Android tablet will make experimenting in the kitchen and organizing your favorite recipes a synch. Want a tablet to make your time in the kitchen easier? Take advantage of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 Deals offered exclusively by your local Car-Tel Communications AT&T Retailers for a limited time.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Where is my Windows 7.8 Upgrade?

If you got into the Windows Phone game early, like I did, then you were probably just as bummed as I was when you heard that your Windows 7.5 device would not be upgradable to Windows 8. If it's almost time for you to upgrade, then I'm jealous of you, because the Nokia Lumia 920 is very affordable when you renew your AT&T service contract (especially with Car-Tel's limited BOGO promotion). However, if you've got a year to go like I do, you're probably thinking, how can I possibly make it through the next 11 months without a more customizable start screen?

Fret not, my fellow Lumia 900 owners, for the Windows Phone 7.8 upgrade is here!'s here-ish. Nokia has announced that it has begun rolling out the upgrade, but for many of us, it's mysteriously not available yet according to our Zune software. But rest assured, your smartphone will alert you when the upgrade is ready to download in your area, and Nokia says that it will be available to you sometime in the next 3 weeks. Here's how to get your upgrade:

So what's new in Windows Phone 7.8? For starters, an improved start screen experience with the ability to resize your Live Tiles (small, medium, or large). In addition, you can now automate your lock screen to update daily with a new image from Bing, and there is also improved pocket and child lock screen security. Other major system updates include increased language support, improved internet and Bluetooth sharing, camera extras, and new apps like Contacts Share, Play To, and Nokia City Lens.

This upgrade shares many new features of Windows Phone 8 with owners of some earlier Windows Phone devices, so it should hold you over until it's time to upgrade.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mailbox for iPhone: Are you on the Waiting List?

If you, like many iPhone users, are unsatisfied with your smartphone's native email app, Gmail has offered a free mobile alternative for quite some time (which it just updated before the end of last year). Unfortunately, many are also experiencing occasional crashes and other problems with the email app provided by Apple's rival. Well, I have good news, and bad news.

The good news is, a new app for Gmail accounts called Mailbox for iPhone just recently became available in the App Store, and its promise of a better email experience (by cleverly replacing taps with gestures) has got the internet buzzing. The bad news is, you have to sign up, and there's a waiting list, with hundreds of thousands of people ahead of you. The website claims the rate at which reservations will be filled will increase exponentially over time, so the sooner you sign up, the shorter the wait will be.

A cool feature to maintain your anticipation is that once you sign up, you can check in to see how many people are ahead of you, and also how many poor souls are stuck in line behind you. Clearly, Mailbox for iPhone is like the Disney World of email.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Nokia's Free Streaming Music Service

What I really love about my Lumia 900 are the Nokia exclusives that come with it. A somewhat recent addition was Nokia Music Mix Radio, a free streaming music service that gives Pandora a run for its money, in my opinion. You can play free music anywhere with your mobile data, but streaming music can end up burning through a lot of data depending on how long you are listening, so I recommend making sure you're connected to WiFi or a Mobile Hotspot most of the time with this app.

You can create your own mixes based on a selection of your favorite artists, or you can select from over 100 music channels based on genre (from hip hop to indie to jazz), featured mixes (like music for Valentine's Day or Grammys 2013), and even artists' recommendations (you'd be surprised about what Lady Gaga listens to). If you hear something you really like, you can easily jump to the Nokia Music Store to purchase the tracks. There's also a really cool feature called Gig Finder, where you can find shows and tour dates of artists you like, or just what's going on around you locally.

If you've recently taken advantage of the Nokia Lumia 920 BOGO Sale, an exclusive promotion at Car-Tel Communications AT&T retailers, then you should definitely check out Nokia Music (especially the Dance/Electronic Charts mix - it's my favorite at the moment).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stick to Your Fitness Resolution with BodBot

I'm no athlete, so most fitness apps tend to let me down. I don't want to track all of the food I eat down to the calorie, and I don't want to orchestrate a complicated workout regime that pretty much requires a gym membership. I just want to get a little healthier this year. Where is the average Joe (or Adam) supposed to turn for some no-nonsense fitness guidance?

Considering I'm a month into the new year, and I'm still working out and making progress, the answer for me has been BodBot, a free app that plans simple and effective workouts for you. It's still in its alpha stage, but considering how awesome it is already, I think that's pretty promising. All you have to do is register with an email address, enter basic info like your age, gender and fitness goals, and then it plans a workout calendar for you. My favorite feature is that you can specify that you'll be working out at home instead of at a gym, and it will create your entire plan with workout adaptations you can do with basic pieces of furniture instead of machines.

You can check in daily on your Android or iOS device (I have a Windows phone, so I check in on the web), and click "Did it!" or "Missed Workout." If you miss, it restructures your entire calendar. It's the most automated, user-friendly fitness app I've ever used - great for the layman who just wants to get a bit more fit, although it would certainly work well for the seasoned gym rat, too. Its strength is in saving you time in creating a customized workout plan, but if tracking your progress with precision is important to you (which, for me, it isn't) then you might not find the minimalism of this app as appealing as I do. In that case, you might want to check out some of the other Fitness Apps in Car-Tel's App-lipedia.