Something that is becoming more and more standard in most vehicles is an infotainment system of some kind. A few years ago, I was at an event where Ford was demonstrating a few of their vehicles with the Mircosoft Sync system. I was very impressed with what it had to offer and the way the interface appeared to work. So much so, that I purchased two new Ford vehicles within the next year.
After a few years now, I am not as impressed with the system. The are constant lags, and there never seem to be any updates for the system software. I know I have complained on more than one occasion that the system was flawed.
It appears that Ford has listened, or maybe this is something they have been working on for years anyway. Ford has announced that starting with 2016 year models, vehicles will now be running Sync 3 which will be powered by BlackBerry’s QNX software. I can surely say this is a very welcome upgrade to the vehicle’s infotainment systems. It does not appear that older vehicles will be able to upgrade, which really sucks for me.
According to Ford:
Although SYNC 3 is optimized for hands-free use, an all-new touch screen delivers an experience similar to a smartphone or tablet.
Quicker response to touch as well as voice commands and smartphone-like gestures including pinch-to-zoom and swipe are central to SYNC 3, along with crisp, modern graphics.
For more information on the new Sync 3 system, please see the Ford press release below.
Hey Apple fans…. The day you have been waiting for has finally arrived! Apple has released iOS 9.1 that has over 150 new emoji characters, including a middle finger and a taco. I mean, what could be more important?!? For those of you with an Apple Watch, there is a software update available there as well to view the new emojis.
To download the new update, go to Settings > General > Software Update on your device. Have fun!
WiFi calling on AT&T is finally available for users to enable. T-Mobile has long has this feature, but other carriers are just now getting around to activating this feature. The main point behind WiFi calling is to assist users when they are in an area with weak cellular coverage. The WiFi will act like a mobile tower and help place and receive calls for them when they would otherwise not have coverage.
Bluetooth headsets aren’t as popular as they once used to be, but they are regaining popularity and use with the ever increasing number of locations adopting hands-free laws. Today Jabra announced that the Jabra Eclipse is available at Best Buy, T-Mobile, and select online retailers.
The Eclipse is Jabra’s lightest ever headset, with a weigh-in of less than 2 ounces. It was designed as a button-free headset. Users simply tap the headset to have access to calls, texts, emails, music, and Google Now or Siri. It features 10-hours of talk time, and the case is also used for charging.
HTC announced their newest edition to the One lineup today. The new smartphone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with HTC Sense on board. HTC has tried to maintain aggressive styling on their new device, but one can’t help but notice the striking similarity to the Apple iPhone design.
HTC One A9 comes in Carbon Gray, Opal Silver, Topaz Gold, and Deep Garnett. The HTC One A9 will be available via mutiple carriers and retailers starting in November 2015. It will have the following specs:
5″, full HD, AMOLED Gorilla Glass screen
13MP rear camera with Optical Image Stabilization
Support for HTC Rapid Charger 2.0
Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor
Available in 16Gb and 32GB variations with support for up to 2GB in SD card storage
We have all been there, out for a evening and our number one social interaction device dies, our cellphone. Your attempts to get that perfect selfie have been placed on hold and you are forced to actually speak with people face to face. We have had a few options like asking the bartender if they have a charger and having them place your device behind the bar. (This does require better tipping). There have been many variations of paid charging devices sitting in a dark corner that look like anyone could just walk away with your device, which is a main reason I have never used one and usually carry a backup battery.
Welcome chargesafe to the mix. They have a great looking, secure charging station, with some great features.
Each charging bay features 4 connectors. (microUSB, Apple 30 Pin, Apple Lightning 8 Pin and miniUSB). The connectors offer up to 2.4 AMPS meaning your device will charge at the fastest possible rate allowed by the manufacturer. To open the bay door to your device you simply swipe the card you used to rent the charging bay.
Have you ever wanted to get some of the cool new features of today’s connected cars, but just can’t afford the price tag for that vehicle? Well, now you just may be able to get those features added to your existing vehicle for a much smaller price tag. What are these cool features I’m referring to? Well they are: Remote Access, Vehicle Health and Diagnostics, GPS Tracking, Geo-fencing, and Vehicle Alerts to name a few.
Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi, or VDD for short, is currently available to Verizon Wireless subscribers only. It is priced at $249.99 with month-to-month service of $5 per device with a shared data plan. When you think about what features VDD has to offer, the price tag is really pretty reasonable. I’m hopefully that other carriers will get in on this action and begin to offer VDD in the near future.
Delphi sent me a VDD unit to test for a few weeks and I must say that I am impressed. The device itself is very simple to install. Once you remove it from the packaging, you simply plug it in to the OBD (on-board diagnostics) port in your vehicle. Done. Device installed. Follow some simple instructions and have the device activated and you’ll be up and running.
Once properly installed and activated, you will now have access to several features of today’s connected cars. Not every car will be able to take advantage of every feature. I discovered that I was not able to use the KeyFob feature of VDD because both of my vehicle have Push-to-Start, and VDD is not compatible with that yet. They say updates are coming, and I’m hopeful that will be one of them. My only other issue with VDD is location. Each vehicles OBD port will probably be located in a different area. For my 2013 Ford Escape, I had to remove a panel from the lower part of the dash to get to the OBD. Once I plugged in the VDD the panel would not go back on, and it just looked odd. It would be nice if Delphi included some kind of extension cable for the OBD port that would allow you to connect with minimal obstruction and move the VDD out of the way.
Now on to the testing… A few of the options you can do with VDD are set up alerts, such as speed alerts and geo-fence alerts. I started with speed alerts and had it set at 80mph. I quickly discovered a problem here, and it had nothing to do with VDD, and everything to do with my daily commute. I routinely drive a toll road that has a speed limit of 80mph. I was setting off speed alerts left and right. It does work as advertised, but I had to change that alert to save my email box from being flooded with messages.
The geo-fence settings allow you to pick a starting location, and then set a radius from that point as the “fence” area. I created my geo-fence to be 15 miles from my house, and just like the speed alerts, every time I crossed that boundary I would get an alert sent to my inbox.
VDD also allows you to monitor your vehicle health and get a history of your recent driving trips. If you happen to have any warning lights come up on the dash, you can refer to VDD for a reading of that code before you go to see your mechanic.
There are so many other things I found useful while using VDD, but I just don’t have time to keep rambling on about them. If you are a Verizon subscriber, I’d suggest going by your local Verizon store and checking this out in person. If you want to see a quick demo of the web control, click on this link.
Overall, I was very impressed. I think VDD is a great device for any parent with teenage drivers, or maybe even business owners needing to keep an eye on their fleet of vehicles. The price point is low, and the number of good uses is high. Sounds like a win-win to me. Go check it out!
UPDATE: Delphi contacted me and pointed out that there is an extension cable available for VDD, and that it just was not included in my demo unit. This is good news and makes me like the product even more! Now if it was just on AT&T…
Amped Wireless specializes in providing long range wireless products for your home and office. Whatever your specific needs are, Amped Wireless most likely has a product that is going to suit your situation.
In my home my router is located in the front corner of my house, making the signal poor in the opposite side. I also wanted to see if a range extender could boost my wifi signal so that I could use my tablet on my back patio. Amped Wireless sent me a REC10 High Power Compact Wi-Fi Range Extender. The REC10 plugs directly into your wall socket and is easy to set up. The directions provided are clear and make set up a breeze. I had my wife, who is generally afraid of doing anything tech related, set up the REC10. She got it set up on her first try without any issues.
Amped Wireless says that their range extenders will work with all brands of standard routers and service providers’ equipment (2.4 Ghz 802.11b/g or n wireless). I had no problems with my AT&T Uverse equipment. The REC10 works exactly as described; it took the signal from my internet providers’ wireless router, amplified it, and rebroadcast it. The REC10 is equipped with dual 2.4 Ghz amplifiers and a high gain antenna that can extend wifi coverage up to 6500 Sq ft, eliminating dead spots and penetrating walls.
The REC10 is compact and attractive looking; the Amped Wireless logo on the front emits a warm soft glow. The REC10 has an impressive range of features that are not found on other Range Extenders. There is a wired port on the device if you need to plug up with a traditional Ethernet cable. The REC10 is compatible with Apple networking features, such as Airplay and AirPrint. Smart security features put you in control of restricting users, setting up time schedules when your network is available, and how far to extend the range. WPS, WPA, WPA2, and Guest networking are all available as well.
The REC10 performed for me as expected. My devices had been dropping signal in my bedroom, the opposite corner of the house from the router. With the REC10 there is no longer any problem getting signal there. I also had no problem with the signal sitting on my patio. The REC10 retails for about $69.99. While that is a bit pricier than like devices out there, the suite of added features makes the REC10 an excellent choice for anyone looking for more than just extended range. Think you need more range? Amped Wireless has 8 options for you. www.ampedwireless.com