Well, It Is About Time: Why Coin Is the Wallet Replacement We’ve Been Looking For…

I don’t like carrying my wallet around. I hate to thing about what sitting with my wallet in my back pocket does to my spine. There are always so many cards and they always want to flop out of my wallet and I can never find the card I’m looking for and on and on it goes.

We are in a technological age where this problem should be easy-peasy to fix, but for the last number of years tech giants and startups alike have fumbled repeatedly in endeavors to launch a technology to replace the traditional wallet with its multitudinous cards…well, it looks like Coin has finally invented the way we will do wallets in the future.

I’m excited about this not only b/c of what it means for the wallet, but also b/c I’m sure I can get a sheath for my phone that will allow me to carry my coin card and drivers license with the phone – getting rid of the annoying wallet altogether.

So how did Coin make something that the tech giants have been failing to do for years? They aren’t trying to move everyone to a new standard (e.g. NFC) but instead are using an the old technology in a new way.

Basically, the Coin card comes with a scanner which can read the information off of credit cards and other striped cards. It stores this information in the Coin card and you can then choose through a display on the card itself which card you want to use at any given moment. The stores you visit don’t need any new technology – as far as they are concerned, the Coin card is just another credit card.

But wait folks, that’s not all. The Coin card also uses Bluetooth to make sure you don’t accidentally leave your card somewhere. If you walk out of a restaurant and forget your Coin card, your phone will alert you that the Coin card is no longer in the vicinity – before you drive all the way home and realize your card is missing.

The Coin isn’t available just yet but it can be pre-ordered at half price ($50 I think) and has a planned release date of Summer 2014.


Smartphone on the Road: Five Apps That Can Make Your Teen a Better Driver

Guest Post by Cynthia Tyson. Cynthia is a stay-at-home mom with a background in social media and public relations.

You don’t often see the words “smartphone,” “teen,” and “driving” all in the same sentence. At least, not in a positive way. As much as smartphones can be detrimental to safety on the road, they can also help teens become better and safer drivers in the long run. So, if you want to bribe your teen into safer driving, make sure he or she downloads the following apps before you even think about looking at used cars for the holidays.Photo for Apps

1. Drive Safe.ly (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows – Free)

This handy mobile app helps prevent distracted driving by reading text messages and emails aloud in real time. Drive Safe.ly even responds automatically to these messages without drivers having to even touch the phone. These automated messages can be customized according to different needs, so teens can write messages like “On the way!” for specific text senders. One-touch activation makes setup a breeze, while a flexible design ensures compatibility with Bluetooth and radio transmitters.

2. Drive Safe Mode (iOS, Android – Free)

Using special sensory technology to detect the movement of the car, Drive Safe Mode turns off all alerts to eliminate distractions completely. No more reminding your teen to turn off her phone or put it in the backseat. Drive Safe Mode literally puts his phone on lockdown and even sends out alerts and reports if the user tries to disable the lock. Now you can be sure your rules are enforced even after he pulls out of the driveway. Even while driving, the app allows emergency calls to 911 and Mom and Dad just in case.

3. DriveScribe (iOS, Android – Free)

Perfect for new drivers, DriveScribe can be your teen’s personal driving instructor when you’re not in the car. The app monitors speed, blocks texts and calls, and delivers real-time voice feedback to improve your teen’s driving. The driver will not only receive an alert about driving mistakes but also designated friends or family members via text message and/or email. Mistakes can include excessive speed, running a stop sign and hard braking. After each driving session, data is stored, monitored and analyzed in comprehensive metrics that make it easier to gauge progress.

4. CarSafe (Android – Free)

Developed by researchers from Dartmouth’s Smartphone Sensing Group, CarSafe is a high-tech app that uses dual-camera, motion-sensing power to detect risky driving behaviors like distraction and drowsiness. The front camera records data about the driver, while the back camera keeps track of environmental conditions. After analyzing this data, the app will alert the driver about these risks with screen icons and audible warnings. Risky behavior ranges from tired eyes to a too-close proximity to the car ahead.

5. Steer Clear (iOS, Android – Free)

State Farm created the Steer Clear mobile app as part of a program for reinforcing positive driving behavior for young drivers. Drivers under age 25 can complete the Steer Clear Safe Driver Discount Program to earn discounts on State Farm auto insurance, so safe driving can literally pay off. The app logs driving experiences and offers tips for safer driving in varying weather conditions. Teens can even use the app to watch videos and learn from the experiences of other drivers. A built-in Find an Agent feature also makes it easy to contact your State Farm Agent for general questions or to make a claim.

Escaping the Trap of Cell Phone Tracking

[Editor’s Note: This article is a guest post by JoBeth Hartford. She works for a mobile media company writing video scripts. She hopes to start her own mobile tech publication someday in the future. The article tackles the topic of cell phone tracking – mainly from a non-governmental angle – not highlighting the recent issues revealed by Snowden’s disclosures regarding the FCC. Personally, I’m not concerned about “Big Brother” watching me, I figured we have been being watched for years now. 🙂 My recommendation: stick with a smartphone, they make life easier…]

Introduction

The idea that the government can access private phone calls has always been a hot topic, bringing up questions like “Is government listening in?” “Are phone logs tracked?” “Can text messages be accessed?” After making headlines during the Bush administration, this subject has been in the news again recently, when it was discovered the government has been tracking cell phone records of people of interest.

The idea that your phone may not be as secure and private as previously thought has many people understandably concerned. After all, most people think when they call their friends, family, co-workers, or the guy who is handling their car repair, any information will stay between the exchanged voices on the cell phones.

The FCC and Phones

As it turns out, cell phone privacy is a real enough issue that the Federal Communications Commission recently planned a vote on whether to require cellular carriers to better protect their customers’ privacy. The new rules, if approved, would make sure that cell phone companies were taking “reasonable precautions” to safeguard any personal information, including which phone numbers their customers were dialing, the locations of the calls being made, and even how many minutes or hours the calls lasted.

The FCC began to take a hard look at cell phones and privacy matters after a security researcher discovered a couple of years ago that cell phone companies often utilize a specific type of software that is capable of gathering data about how and what consumers are doing with their cell phones. While the cell phone companies contend they only use the data to learn more about their phones and networks, it was concerning enough to cause the FCC to take action.

For most law-abiding citizens, the thought their mobile service provider or even the government can monitor a text reminding their spouse to pick up milk, or their calls to friends about what their kids are up to, is definitely troubling. While it seems safe to say people who are not doing anything wrong have nothing to worry about, the situation has Big Brother overtones that have many people wondering what to make of all of it.

How Cell Phone Users Can Take Action

Fortunately, there are steps cell phone users can take to help protect their privacy as much as possible. People who are truly concerned about this issue should opt for a disposable phone, which may be more difficult to trace back. Of course, this type of phone may not be the best solution for folks who truly need all the bells and whistles of a fancier device. In this case, people can use a free app such as Protect My Privacy, which stops other apps from getting a hold of contacts and other personal information stored on the phone.

Certain brands of cell phones also tend to be more easily accessible. For example, some phones are automatically linked to its owner’s Google account, which means each and every text and call is easily tracked. Inquire about your phone’s connections and privacy features. For those who are concerned about privacy, simply purchase a different type of cell phone.

What’s your opinion about the personal security of cell phone usage? Share it in the comments.