Burner makes a smarter phone by integrating with Dropbox, Evernote, & Slack

Remember when people still used their smartphone as a phone? (Yeah, it was a long time ago.) I always assumed that the reason no one bothers calling anymore is because the experience of using a phone kinda sucks — and wireless carriers have pretty much just relied on partnerships with hardware companies to drive innovation.
Burner, initially launched as a disposable phone number service, might be able to help in that department with a new set of features aimed at making phone calls more useful.
Holding onto a phone number for a long time can make life easier for anyone who wants to call you. I learned my grandfather’s phone number as a child, and by now typing in those 10 digits has been ingrained in my muscle memory. I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to reach him if that number ever changed. But sometimes people don’t want to have just one phone number for too long — or they want an easy way to gain more control over their incoming calls or texts.
Burner has addressed that first problem since it first debuted its disposable phone app, which allows people to use temporary phone numbers that can be “burned” after they’ve served their purpose. Now, the company is announcing integrations with a bunch of services — including Slack, Evernote, Dropbox, and SoundCloud — to give its customers what it calls a “personal operating system.” (Yeah, I know, but at least they didn’t call it a “geniusphone” or something.)
The disposable phone numbers will be easier to use with a new “premium” option, which also offers unlimited calls, texts, and picture messages for $4.99 a month. Burner users accustomed to the app’s existing monetization model, which relies on something called “credits” isn’t fully explained on the page you’re suppose to purchase them, can still use the app that way. The idea behind the new premium option is to give people a long-term number they can use in addition to their “real” phone number.
The integrations with other services are a little more interesting. The connections to Dropbox and SoundCloud are meant to archive content for later. Both can save voicemails sent to a Burner number for later, and Dropbox can also automatically save any images sent to the numbers. The connections to Evernote and Slack, however, are supposed to make it easier for professionals to respond to business-related text messages sent to their virtual burner phones.
Evernote integration allows people to send canned responses to questions they receive a lot, like “What are your hours?” or “Will you guys cash checks?” The integration with Slack, on the other hand, automatically forwards voicemails and text messages to a dedicated channel within the business communications tool. This is supposed to make it easier for an entire team to respond to people, instead of requiring one poor soul to handle all incoming questions or concerns.
I suspect many Burner customers will use the Dropbox and Evernote functions the most. Those are private by default, and sending canned responses to text messages is something everyone can appreciate, regardless of whether or not they’re using the service professionally. (How many times have you fielded texts from relatives asking for directions to your house or a meeting place? Exactly.) But the other options, in conjunction with new premium lines, show that Burner is thinking about helping workers separate their personal and professional lives on a single device.
That’s a problem I’m all too familiar with. I used to give out my personal phone number to anyone who wanted to talk on the phone, partly because I always had my cellphone on me and partly because at that time I didn’t have another phone. That proved to be a mistake. There are only so many calls you can field from PR people who won’t take the hint, or text messages you can receive in the middle of the night because someone doesn’t care about the vast difference in timezones.
So lately, I’ve been insisting that all calls are either done via Skype (which I’m not signed into most of the time) or Flyp, a service that works a lot like Burner. I won’t say that’s the best decision I’ve ever made — my wife probably wouldn’t appreciate that — but it’s pretty far up there. Now instead of never being able to escape my professional life, I can clearly segregate the two by using a disposable number. Mine could be a fringe case, but I think that many people can relate.
Now I’ll have to give Burner a try. Not because I’m interested in the “personal operating system” malarkey, or in archiving voicemails to SoundCloud. (I turn voicemails off every phone I use, or refuse to check those tied to apps like this.) But because I know all too well how frustrating it can be not to have a disposable number connected to my phone, and $4.99 a month is a pittance compared to the sanity-saving benefits I can reap from using such an important (to me) tool.
As for my grandfather? Well, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about him signing up for Burner any time soon. That number’s going to remain in use for a while.

Huawei debuts a 7-inch phone and its first Android Wear watch

Back in 2012, I suggested that for some, a tablet may replace a smartphone within the next few years. Fast forward to present day and Huawei is thinking the same: The company introduced a 7-inch tablet with cellular voice capabilities alongside its Android Wear smartwatch that was leaked before the Mobile World Congress event, which kicks off today.

mediapad x2

Huawei already sells a large phone direct to consumers in the U.S.: You can buy the Ascend Mate2 with its 6.1-inch display for $299.99 off contract. The new MediaPad X2 brings the screen size to a full 7-inches with 1920 x 1200 resolution for a pixel density of 323 pixels per inch. Huawei says it’s keeping the overall size of the X2 down with an 80 percent screen to body ratio and 7.28 millimeter thickness. The 5,000mAh battery should easily last a day, if not two, between charges.

mediapad x2 side

Inside is the company’s own 64-bit chipset, an eight-core 2.0GHz Kirin 930 paired with Mali T628 GPU and Cat6 LTE radio capable of 300Mbps download speeds. A 13-Megapixel camera adorns the rear, while the front of the X2 has a wide-angle 22mm lens and 5MP sensor.

The device runs Google Android 5.0 software with Huawei’s own software called EMUI. The base model includes 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM and Huawei will offer a second edition with double the storage and 3GB of memory. Huawei says pricing and availability will vary by region with more details to follow.

Also coming soon at an undisclosed price is the metal Huawei Watch running Google’s Android Wear software. It looks like other circular watches that have recently hit the market but Huawei is boasting a higher pixel density: The round 1.4-inch AMOLED screen has a 400 x 400 resolution. The touchscreen is covered with a sapphire crystal and overall, the device looks like a classic metal watch.

huawei watch official

Like most Android Wear devices, the Huawei Watch has a bevy of sensors inside: 6-axis gyroscope, barometer, and optical heart-rate monitor. Outside, the case is made from 316L corrosive-resistant, cold-forged stainless steel.

While the watch looks nice, there are already several similar options available to consumers. I’m more interested to see if consumers adopt the MediaPad X2 as a replacement for both a phone and a tablet.

The X2 should work fine for the latter use; I’ve happily carried and used a 7-inch slate in the past, although I wouldn’t use it for a full-time productivity device. You probably can’t put the X2 in your pocket like you can with most phones though, and that could be a challenge for potential buyers. Still, color me intrigued.
MWC-2015-ticker

Pinning from Pinterest just became way easier on mobile

Pinterest lovers rejoice! Once you update to iOS 8 and adjust your phone settings, you’ll be able to pin on the go. The extension will be added to your mobile web browser so, when you hit the share button, Pinterest will now appear as an option alongside Facebook, Twitter and the rest. That means no more laboriously taking a screenshot your Instagram favorites, opening the Pinterest app and adding them manually. It’s a long overdue feature for Pinterest, one that lessens its mobile product friction and makes pinning in transit far more fun.

The Samsung Galaxy W is a 7-inch Korean smartphone

samsung_glw_01Samsung’s mid-range Galaxy Tab line might not have the ability to make voice calls in the United States, but since 2011, overseas markets have had the option to add cellular connectivity. So the company’s new seven-inch phone announced on Monday, the Galaxy W, isn’t a new product, but rather a new moniker. Like the Galaxy Tab, it doesn’t pack flagship specifications: a 720p display, a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and Android(s goog) 4.3 with no guarantee of timely updates. It’ll cost nearly 500,000 won in Korea, which works out to just under $500. No word about when if it’ll ever come to the United States, so if you want a phone-tablet hybrid, your best bet is probably the currently available Samsung Galaxy Mega.

Thanks to telecom oligopolies, it’s always raining in the cloud

Even using a smartphone in fairly normal ways — checking your location with a web-based map, sending email or text messages, uploading photos and so on — can result in massive charges when it is done while roaming internationally, thanks to the market control that telecom carriers enjoy.

Mapfia: Location sharing between two people via phone call

Need to share your location for a limited amount of time and with just a single person? Mapfia is an easy method on iOS and Android. You simply call someone and Mapfia shares the location of both people for the length of the call.