In which I do that columnist thing once more, offering quick takes on a few bits of mobile news floating around the ether. This week’s topics include the fact that the sad contingent of new iPhone 5 owners who lost their charging cables can finally expect their converters to ship soon. What have they been doing in the meantime? What cat activities will be lost forever to the slow tide of time? We might never know.
Apple shipping out Lightning-to-30-pin adapters
When Apple changes its standards, it does so abruptly. The iPhone 5 has an entirely different charging port, dubbed Lightning, and it does not work with the 10 or so standard iPod/iPhone/iPad “30-pin” chargers found around the typical middle-class home. So that cord that comes with the iPhone 5 is all one had, because Apple’s 30-pin/Lightning converters were very much not heading to anybody. Until last night, when buyers of the $29 converter were notified of its shipment. Then again, many of them could have gotten away with the little-noticed $19 Lightning-to-USB adapter, but, in any case, no iPhone 5s shall sit unloved and uncharged, for the right price, from here on out.
Shoot better videos with just your phone camera
Nobody can stop new parents from running out and grabbing the best video camera or DSLR still shooter they can swing. Those are primal, ethereal forces at work. But in the situation where your smartphone is the best camera you have with you, you can often do much more than just apologize for the lighting and shakiness.
Wistia shows us a great example of how to shoot better smartphone videos, and then breaks down the specifics of how it got done. That video tutorial (which I found via Lifehacker) is honest about what you can and can’t get done with a tiny lens, but also how important lighting and framing can be in making the most of a fast-capture moment.
StarStar Me: Not just something your little niece says
The process of handing out and geting actual phone numbers into our phones can still feel a little old-fashioned. Sprint thinks it has a solution, and a ridiculous name for it: StarStar Me.
Instead of telling somebody to call you at “Two-one-two, five-five-five,” and so on, you’d say, “Call me at **JimTR.” StarStar Me (so fun to write!) also makes your double-asterisk number able to be found via your Twitter or Facebook profiles, if you so desire. It sounds like, well, an interesting idea for young folk who really care about everybody being able to call them about everything. And maybe that’s where the money is?
Wal-Mart and American Express launch entirely mobile-focused bank service
Efforts like Simple have pushed the tech-savviness of modern banking forward, but mostly for those with smartphones, and with some standard banking legacy left over. Wal-Mart, seeking to better serve customers without the means or desire to maintain traditional bank accounts, is pulling off a kind of bold move and creating an entirely phone-based bank, Bluebird. You deposit checks and money using your phone or Bluebird kiosks, you pay bills with your phone, and you get a pre-paid debit card linked directly to that deposit account.
Entirely mobile payment systems are nothing new, particularly in Africa, where they sometimes serve as the backbone of an entire people’s economy. But it’s quite interesting to see Wal-Mart giving customers something that some Apple Store customers probably wish they could have, too.
Chinese smartphone makers: U.S. security threat?
Mike Rogers, chairman of the US Congress’ Intelligence Committee, isn’t interested in Chinese phone makers Huawei or ZTE because he’s in need of a cheaper, more open smartphone solution. No, Rogers told 60 Minutes that he’s concerned about those companies’ ties to the Chinese government, and the potential espionage opportunities that provides. Only 4 percent of Huawai’s revenues come from the U.S. right now, but Rogers and an Intelligence Committee report see them as a non-cooperative and ambitious extension of China’s aggressive intelligence operations.
I have no particular take on this. Except to say that it would be funny if spy agencies had somehow managed to create Android apps that work on every phone, don’t force close, and contribute to longer battery life before any other developer had done so.