Withings has introduced a new set of wireless bathroom scales to spare us sedentary geeks the effort of recording our weekly weigh-ins. The updated set includes Position Control technology, which we assume means it tells you to stand up straight and suck your belly in while it’s sending your details to the internet. All you need is a smartphone or tablet that can use its new Health Companion App. which came out earlier this month. It arrives in Europe at the end of September, and equipping yourself for a war on weight will cost you €120.
The last time TechCrunch heard from the internet-for-everyone proponents at FreedomPop, they revealed to us that they were working on an iPhone 4/4S case with a built-in WiMax radio that would give their users monthly access to free mobile broadband.
Now, according to my high-level source, the company is very close to bringing these things into the real world. Ahead of their beta launch slated for the summer, the company has just quietly begun to take pre-orders for the nifty iPhone accessory, though some of their plans for the product have changed over the past few months.
For one, they’re not running with the deposit model my source previously alluded to. Instead, they’re just going to sell the case itself for $ 99, and users can contact the company to return the unit and get their refund at any time. It’s functionally the same experience for the user, except without the accounting headaches that come with managing scores of deposits.
Perhaps the most notable tweak is that they’ve changed how much free bandwidth each user gets right out of the gate. The original plan was to offer 1GB of WiMax data access for free to users each month, but they’ve since dropped that “guaranteed monthly minimum” to 500MB. Sort of a bummer, I agree, but I’m told that they’re trying to err on the side of caution for now.
Glass-half-full types can take solace in the fact that the company will not neuter their free plan to below 500MB per month, and that the initial level of bandwidth allocation could actually grow over time.
If you’re concerned that 500MB/month isn’t that great, I’m also told users will be able to earn more bandwidth thanks to a social layer that FreedomPop is developing as part of the service. FreedomPop users will be able to connect with each other, and doing so nets them both of them an additional (sadly unspecified) amount of usage — especially popular (or smart) users can raise their monthly data allotment as high as 1GB.
Beyond that, users will also have the ability to share their location with their so-called FreedomFriends, but perhaps more importantly, users will be able to treat the amount of bandwidth they have at their disposal as a transferable commodity. If a friend of yours is bumping up against that 500MB limit and really doesn’t want to pay that $ .01/MB overage fee, you’ll be able to transfer him or her a portion of your own monthly bandwidth allotment.
That, in short, is awesome. Larger wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T sell access to their data networks in pre-configured chunks, which often leaves their subscribers paying for more data than they actually need in a given month. The real frustration comes from the fact that the users who have paid for X amount of data access per month can’t do anything with it — the counter just resets at the end of the month at that’s that. Giving users more control over what they pay for (or don’t pay for, as the case may be) is a smart approach to working with a dumb pipe, and could help give FreedomPop users a reason to stick around.
A brief video demo of the case in action (seen above) was also passed along, and it offers up our first real look at what the darn thing looks like. Given that the case was a WiMax radio and a separate battery jammed into it, it’s understandably thick, but it doesn’t look much more offensive than some of the other hefty iPhone cases floating around out there. It doesn’t look like it would do a great job actually protecting the iPhone nestled inside it, but hey — you can’t always get what you want.
With a site redesign freshly under its belt, the FCC’s setting its recently honed eye for modernization on other, more pertinent areas of its jurisdiction — like Lifeline. The universal program, a means of guaranteeing affordable phone service to low-income families, hadn’t exactly kept pace with changes in the telecom industry, overlooking consumers’ preference for wireless and the growing need for pervasive broadband access. That’s all set to change with new measures adopted by the Commission today designed to curb carrier abuse of the antiquated system and automate the enrollment process by eliminating unnecessary duplicate accounts and subsidies. A pilot program to offer and potentially bundle discounted, high-speed internet to eligible participants is also underway, with potential ISP partners currently being solicited for inclusion. All told, the moves could wind up saving the federal agency over $ 2 billion in misdirected funds over a three-year span, leaving more money on the table to help your average Joe and Jane America step firmly into the 21st century.
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NY Times revamps iPad app, slates pay wall for 2011 Computerworld – The New York Times today updated its app for Apple’s iPad, and said it would start charging readers for access to the digital content early next year. Read more on Computerworld
Apple expected to blow away year-ago results with strong iPhone, iPad sales in 4th quarter SEATTLE – Apple Inc., maker of the iPad, iPhone and other gadgets, is set to report fiscal fourth-quarter results Monday after the closing bell. WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Shipments of Apple’s profitable iPhone and iPad devices. Read more on Minneapolis-St. Paul Star TribuneRelated Posts:
This thing is looking like a very attractive alternative to the iPad! If it was made more a more reputable company, I think I'd definitely choose this over the iPad. Being able to view the “full web” is a big plus in my opinion.
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The JooJoo tablet’s launch date might have been pushed back a month while Fusion Garage sorts out issues with the capacitive touchscreen, but it looks like the extra time has given the company a chance to tweak the interface and add in some features. Obviously the most noticable change is the revised homescreen, which has gone from line art on a garish solid color background to a nicely rendered icon grid over a high-res customizable wallpaper, but Fusion Garage has also ditched the confusing pinch-to-go-back gesture and replaced it a vertical swipe that brings down a status bar containing the home button, status indicators, browser navigation controls, and a combination address bar / search field. Scroll behavior has been revised as well, with two separate behaviors: a two-finger scroll that works like a scroll wheel, and a single finger “pan” that works like a mouse arrow. That’s so you can move around sites like Google Maps, which have different interface elements mapped to each control — CEO Chandra Rathakrishnan pointed out to us that devices like the iPhone avoid the issue by using dedicated apps, but Fusion Garage wants to deliver the “full web experience.” It’s an interesting solution and a clever spin on things, but we’re waiting to try it out for real before we pass any judgment.
What else? The text-entry situation has been improved: there’s now both a smaller keyboard designed for one-handed operation that can be moved around the screen so it doesn’t obscure content, and a full-screen multitouch keyboard that does chording so it recognizes more than one key at a time. There’s no auto-correction or prediction, though. Flash is now fully working, and YouTube videos can either be played back using Flash or the custom H.264 HD breakout player we’ve already seen; that player supports a range of codecs and can also be used to play videos stored on a USB thumb drive. And finally, and perhaps most oddly, the JooJoo has changed colors. Instead of black, the back casing is now a “champagne” color, a picture of which you can see below — Chandra told us that unhappy preorder customers can just have their $499 refunded if they desperately wanted black instead. All we desperately want to do is get a review unit and tell you what the JooJoo is actually like to use — if all of these promises hold up, it could be very intriguing indeed.
Gallery: JooJoo revamps interface ahead of launch, adds local video playback
Continue reading JooJoo revamps interface ahead of launch, adds local video playback — and changes color
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