Blog Archives

Google Voice Arrives on iPhones with HTML5-Powered Webapp [Webapps]

iPhone/Palm Pre: Apple and/or AT&T don't want the Google Voice service to have its own iPhone app, and we think that stinks. Google is finally releasing the next best thing: a mobile site that basically replicates a dedicated Google Voice app.

The big advantage of Google’s new Voice app (which is already showing up for Voice users at Lifehacker HQ) is the direct contact access. Rather than having to store secondary numbers or use the somewhat old-school-looking Voice mobile site to pull up your contacts, Google Voice’s new webapp provides super-quick, as-you-type access to your Google Contacts. The interface is similar to what you see when you visit Voice in a full browser, with the same mobile look and feel as Gmail, Reader, and other products have recently received.

When you dial, it's not the familiar experience of having Google Voice call you, then call the other person—it's a direct dial to that person, probably using those same secondary numbers Google seems to have stockpiles of.

You’ll want to make sure your phone’s contacts are synced up with Google if you’re keen on using Google’s Voice app. It’s a free service, and requires a Google Voice account (which we hear they’re giving out more regularly).

If you’re already seeing the new Google Voice app in your iPhone or Pre browser, tell us what you think in the comments.



Back Up Any Smartphone’s Contents [Backup]

A lot of contacts, documents, text messages, games, and other data live on your smartphone, but manufacturers and service carriers aren’t going out of their way to make backing up easy. Gizmodo, however, has you covered on nearly any platform.

John Herrman runs down the best, easiest, and cheapest methods for backing up iPhones, Android units, BlackBerries, Windows Mobile, and Palm smartphones. Some involve backing up right to your computer’s hard drive (which you can then back up to an online service or elsewhere), while others drop your data onto SD cards or onto free or cheap web cloud storage space. Not every platform supports every kind of data backup, but most allow you to put enough aside that a lost, stolen, or memory-wiped phone wouldn’t cost you a whole day’s worth of re-configuring.

Hit the link for Gizmodo’s full guide. Got a better solution not mentioned there or around here? Tell us about it in the comments.

Where Makes You A (Temporary) Local [Downloads]

iPhone/BlackBerry/Android/Palm Pre: If you’re in a new location and looking for the low-down on local haunts, mobile application Where may just come to your rescue.

Whether you’re using or one of the native phone applications, finding a place to eat is as easy as setting your location and searching. Offering local information from Eventful, Yelp, GasBuddy, Zipcar, ShopLocal, Starbucks, Buddy Beacon, Topix, and more, there’s no need to stop someone to ask where you can grab a good cup of coffee or fill up with cheap gas.

The results are listed in order, closest to farthest, and include additional information such as star ratings (where available), address, directions, and map. You’re also able to save places for future reference.

Downloading the app gives you the benefit of additional widgets, such as State Parks, Winery Finder, Fore, and World's Largest—for the roadside attraction lovers out there. Widget availability depends upon which cell phone provider you use, unfortunately.

Synchronize Nearly Any Storage Device with iTunes [Downloads]

Palm’s Pre smartphone has received fairly positive press coverage for claiming to sync “seamlessly” with iTunes. The Boy Genius Report blog points out that free software can do pretty much the same thing with any removable drive.

iTunes Agent, a free Windows app we’ve previously mentioned, sits in the system tray and lets you turn anything that plugs in through a USB slot and can store things into an iTunes-friendly device. Plug in your device, create a “New” device in iTunes Agent’s preferences, give it a name, and point to a folder where you want synchronized music to be kept, and the software creates a unique file to identify the device to itself and iTunes. Take note that it will wipe out any music manually placed in there already, but from then on out, iTunes Agent takes care of your music transfers from a single iTunes playlist and a system tray icon that you can click “Synchronize Now” from.

We’ve previously praised SyncTunes for having similar Mac abilities, but that project was shut down by its author. The Boy Genius Report recommends iTuneMyWalkman for a similar experience to iTunes Agent, although that software actually looks more integrated and easier to manage than its Windows counterpart from the screenshots.

Some phones and MP3 players come with their own iTunes hook-ins, but if you’ve got another third-party solution to syncing non-Apple media players to iTunes, let us know in the comments.

Palm Pre Will Launch June 6, Two Days Before iPhone 3.0 [Smartphones]

The Palm Pre, one of our favorite tradeshow announcements from last year, will step into the smartphone fray by going on sale June 6, two days before Apple’s iPhone 3.0 launch at the Worldwide Developers Conference. The phone is a Sprint exclusive for the time being, and costs a familiar $200 with a mail-in rebate and two-year data contract. The Pre’s backers are hoping to avoid shortages and anger by stocking it at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, and Sprint stores.

We’re wondering how many of our readers are eager to sign up with, or return to, Palm devices, or if it’s reassuring to see competition in the phone-plus-data-plan market. Tell us your take in the comments.[Gizmodo]

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