Communications

Messaging app Kik adds 200,000 users -- each day

They're simple, social, and entirely made for mobile, all of which might explain the explosive growth of standalone messaging apps even as Facebook offers a free way to chat on smartphones.

One of the biggies, Kik says that it now has more than 50 million users and that people -- mostly young people -- are signing up at a rate of 200,000 a day. That's twice the rate that Kik claimed when it last released stats. Just last November, the app claimed 30 million users and said that 100,000 people were signing up each day.

"… Read more

Burner brings 'disposable' phone numbers to Android

After enjoying much success on iOS, Burner, the app that provides "disposable" phone numbers, has finally made its way to Android.

Have you ever wished you could have a temporary phone number for things like Craigslist purchases, job searches, or other short-term projects? Well, Burner provides just that. Think of it as an app that can disguise your phone. It gives you a temporary phone number from which you can place calls and send messages or receive calls and messages. Its phone numbers work exactly like the one provided by your carrier, but they stop working after a … Read more

Ford puts a $50,000 bounty on fuel efficiency apps

If you've got an idea for a great app that encourages increased fuel economy, Ford might have a check with your name on it. The American automaker has announced that it is sponsoring a $50,000 Personalized Fuel Efficiency App Challenge to mobile and Web-app developers.

Apps that meet the challenge should make use of data from Ford's Android-powered OpenXC platform, which is able to send over a dozen different measurements from the host vehicle to connected third-party hardware and software in real-time, including the steering angle, GPS position, and vehicle speed. Challenge apps will be judged on … Read more

Gmail for iOS adds more organizational tools

As part of a flurry of changes today, Google updated its Gmail app for iOS.

The core structure and design of the app remain largely the same, but Google added several new useful features that make browsing and organizing your messages easier. Here are the highlights.

You now can jump between messages by swiping horizontally across your iPhone or iPad display. This new action saves you from having to close an e-mail and return to your home screen before you can move on to your next message. The app now supports up to five Gmail accounts. With the Search bar, … Read more

BMW adding Rhapsody and Audible to app roster

NEW YORK--Adding to its existing roster of app integration, which currently comprises Pandora and Mog, BMW announced its next four apps to work with BMW cars at the New York International Auto Show. Music fans will be able to easily use Rhapsody and TuneIn, book lovers can listen to Audible, and Glympse lets drivers share their current whereabouts and destination.

Each app shows up on the LCD in BMW models equipped with the app integration feature, in a format similar to other car applications, such as navigation or the hands-free phone system.

Rhapsody subscribers will get a similar feature set … Read more

New BMW 6-series takes dictation, shows virtual gauges

The tech arms race between BMW and Audi is yielding some amazing cars, such as the Audi S7 we recently reviewed. BMW fights back with its newly announced 2014 6-series, featuring revised cabin electronics that will not only take dictation and send out e-mails for the driver, but also debuts a new digital instrument cluster.

BMW touted the new voice-recognition system for the 6-series in a press release today, noting its simplified voice commands and control over most cabin tech features. The new system will let drivers activate a dictation mode, having the car transcribe e-mails and text messages. The … Read more

Honda and Audi show the future of driving at Nvidia conference

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Over the past decade, new in-car electronics have helped us navigate and made more music easily available while driving. But if the work shown at Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC) is any indication, bigger and better changes are in store.

Among the many automotive seminars at this year's GTC, Honda showed off its development of a head-up display, while Audi discussed its initiatives to make urban driving safer.

In Honda's seminar, Victor Ng-Thow-Hing, principal scientist at the Honda Research Institute in Mountain View, Calif., showed head-up display technology that makes current production examples look … Read more

3 Android apps for Wi-Fi calling with Google Voice

Google Voice allows you to give out one number to reach all of the phone numbers you're using at a given time. The ability to schedule "quiet time," and organize contacts into caller groups really make Google Voice a handy service. However, making Wi-Fi or data calls is a feature that has yet to make it to the app. That's where Android apps like Talkatone, GrooVeIP, and Phone for Google Voice and GTalk come into play.

Using one of these apps will allow you to sign in with your Google Voice number/account and dial calls … Read more

Abalta announces smartphone-powered car tech system

Abalta's just-released WebLink system makes use of smartphones to power popular apps on a car's dashboard. Although no automotive partners have been announced, the technology could let drivers see and control apps for navigation, music, news, and social media through their cars' touch screens.

For the WebLink launch, Abalta Technologies included integration with Slacker Internet radio, WebNav navigation, Parkopedia parking information, and WCities event information apps.

Abalta says WebLink will work with any major smartphone operating system. The technology makes use of the HTML 5-compatible browsers of smartphone operating systems, showing the content and accepting touch-screen control input … Read more

8 Google Reader alternatives for your PC

It's no surprise to Google obsessives that the company announced yesterday that it will draw the curtains on its popular RSS-managing Reader service. So what are you supposed to do with your 60 bazillion feeds?

First off, you can export them using Google Takeout. That's an important step to take so you don't lose track of any of the sites you're following. It lets you download your feeds output, called OPML, as a ZIP. Then you extract it all to a folder, and upload them to your prefered Reader replacement service. But which one do you … Read more