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).