Smart tips for
“THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT,” says Apple
in a spate of ads for its popular iPhone smartphone. And, with a reported 100,000 apps,
many of which also work on Apple’s iPod
Touch, the company may be right.
“App” is short for “application,” small software programs used on various minicom-puter-like smartphones (mobile phones that
can access the Web and e-mail) that make a
phone much more than a phone. With an app
you can, among other things, easily make a
dinner reservation, reserve an airplane seat,
check your bank balance, read Excel spread-sheets or play Skee-Ball.
In addition to those written for the iPhone,
about 3,000 apps are available for Research in
Motion’s popular BlackBerry, and about 10,000
for the line of phones that operate on Google’s
Android operating system.
Some of the most popular apps are free.
Shazam identifies a song you’re listening to
and helps you buy it online. Gas Buddy finds
the cheapest fuel near your location. Many
cable and satellite companies offer apps that
let you remotely program your DVR from
anywhere in the world.
Other apps cost anywhere from 99 cents
to a few dollars. Save Benjis compares product
prices across a number of stores and Scrabble
lets you play the classic game solo or with others through a Wi-Fi connection. Madden
NFL 10, a $10 app, turns your iPhone into a
How do you get them? Most apps can be
downloaded directly to your smartphone from
the Android Market, Apple’s i Tunes store or
BlackBerry’s App World site.
With the right apps, you may even decide
you can leave your laptop at home.
SMARTPHONES HAVE BECOME digital
Swiss Army knives, as they can be used
for messaging, photography, music,
games, GPS and surfing Web sites. Oh,
yes—they also make calls. But with all
they can do, there’s an inevitable trade-off: battery life.
Consider these tips on how to
extend your smartphone’s battery life.
• A smartphone’s built-in radios—
such as Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth—can
drain the battery. If you don’t need them,
turn off some or all of these radios.
• Dim the brightness on your
phone, as the brighter you keep your
screen, the faster it’ll eat away at your
battery. Make sure your phone’s screen
is set to turn off if it detects inactivity
for a minute or two.
• Don’t leave your smartphone in a
hot or cold environment, such as in a
car for a few hours, which could compromise the battery life (and its overall
• Download the latest software
updates for your phone, as engineers
are always trying to find new ways to
extend battery life.—Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
Costco.com carries a selection of backup
power accessories for a variety of mobile
media and communication devices.
Electronics Buyer Buyer’s pıck
IF YOU’VE BEEN thinking about getting
one of the new electronic book readers for
the holidays, Costco.com has an excellent
option: the Sony Reader Pocket Edition.
This e-book’s elegant, lightweight
design and 5-inch display make it perfect
for on-the-go reading. It’s easy to use:
Through your computer you can build your
library from a variety of online bookstores,
including Sony’s eBook store, where you
can access new releases, and Google
Books, where you can choose from more than
1 million free public-domain titles. The download process is easy, and the Sony Reader can
carry up to 350 of your favorite books.
I think you’ll be pleased by how user-friendly this reader is. You can adjust the
font size to customize the page, set your
screen in either portrait or landscape orientation and easily navigate through the pages.
A paper-like display makes for a natural
The Sony Reader is now available at
Costco.com with a protective case and an
exclusive charger for $199.99—which makes
it the least expensive name-brand eReader
on the market. It would make a great
Christmas gift for the book lover on your