Issue 19 - What's Hot in Tech

All-new fitness bands from Jawbone to fit any budget 

Jawbone, makers of fitness bands and Bluetooth speakers and headsets, is releasing two all-new fitness trackers – one for the data-obsessed and the other for the cost-conscious. First is the UP3, an evolution of the existing UP24 fitness band that will add heart rate monitoring, “advanced” sleep tracking, improved water resistance, and a higher price tag ($180 vs. $130 for the UP24). At the other end of the spectrum is the new UP Move, an inexpensive option aimed at introducing new customers to the world of fitness trackers. The UP Move focuses solely on activity (steps and calories) and does not register sleep or heart rate. The UP Move does, however, sync with the Jawbone UP mobile app which continues to improve and provides a lot of insight on nutrition and fitness improvements. 

I currently have the Jawbone UP24 and love the device. Between its vibration-based reminders to keep moving throughout the day to its sleep tracking and natural alarm, the UP24 helps me monitor my activity and improve my habits. I recommend the UP24 over similar bands like the Nike Fuelband and will strongly consider upgrading to the UP3 to learn more about my body.

Amazon offers free, unlimited photo storage to Prime members

Amazon now offers unlimited photo storage to its Prime members, adding yet more value to its paid membership. Users have long had access to Amazon Cloud Drive, which offers 10 GB of free storage space to keep photos, videos, and documents. Prime Members, however, can now upload unlimited photos to their Cloud Drive account through the new Amazon Cloud Drive Photos app (for iOS and Android). Once the app is installed, photos will be uploaded in the background to your Amazon Cloud Drive account for safe keeping. Uploaded photos do not count toward your free 10 GB. With the addition of this Prime perk, there’s no excuse not to have your photos backed up in 2014.

Hotels begin rolling out keyless hotel entry systems

Starwood Hotels & Resorts launched its keyless entry system for iPhone, Apple Watch, and Android, allowing guests to bypass the front desk at checkin and wirelessly open their hotel room with their mobile device. Guests must download the Starwood app and register their device, allowing a simple tap of their phone to unlock their hotel room door. Hilton Hotels will be launching its own system next year.

Amazon reveals surprise smarthome product

No one saw this coming, but Amazon announced its latest product, Echo, an internet-connected speaker that listens and responds to commands – similar to other virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri. Amazon Echo is able to add items to your Amazon shopping list, set alarms, brief you on the latest world news, play music, answer questions, and more. For now, Echo requires an invite to purchase the device and will cost $99 for Prime members and $199 for non-Prime members.

Google launches app to track your personal fitness

Google released its own fitness app, Google Fit, to rival Apple’s Health app as a one-stop-shop for all your personal metrics. The app tracks walking, running, and cycling actives and allows users to set goals focused on activity duration or number of steps. In the future, the app will also integrate data from other fitness services like Strava, Withings, and Runkeeper to provide a centralized view of your fitness. Download the app on Google Play.

Amazon extends its Prime benefits to other retailers

For the first time, Amazon has partnered with another online retailer to pass on the benefits of its Prime membership. London-based fashion retailer AllSaints now offers Amazon Prime members free, next-day shipping for online purchases – the retailer wanted to make a splash by going above and beyond the Prime-standard two-day shipping. Amazon customers simply login at the AllSaints website with their Amazon username to redeem the offer.

Quick Hits

Gmail updated its apps for Android and iPhone with a new aesthetic look plus the ability to fetch mail from Yahoo and other non-Gmail accounts, acknowledging that not everyone uses Google’s Gmail but everyone can use its email app. 

Google Calendar for Android was updated to feature a more visual look complete with photos and maps. The update is rolling out on Google Play over the next few weeks. Watch a quick run-through of its new look and features:

 

As a tech enthusiast, early adopter, and avid reader, I come across a lot of gadgets, apps, websites, and more. Few things excite me more than sharing and discussing these finds with others. Follow me on Twitter where I share even more tech news and trends.  

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Chris Fohlin

Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA