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Ting’s favorite features of the Moto X!

If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a lot of chatter around the Moto Xmotorola-moto-x-angle-back_carousel. Perhaps because it’s Motorola’s first flagship device under Google’s guidance, or perhaps due to the close-to-universal praise it has received from users and critics alike. Regardless of why, it’s a smartphone that deserves to be in the spotlight. Running a tweaked version of Android Jelly Bean (4.2), the Moto X houses several exclusive features that truly makes it shine. Outside of these unique and useful additions, it predominantly runs stock Android and offers a fluid, no-lag experience.

Physically, this device has been brilliantly developed. With a sleek shell and almost no screen bezel, the Moto X feels compact while sporting a large 4.7 inch screen. That screen has been hailed as having “the best performance observed in a mobile display to date.”

We’re taking a look at a few of our favorites from among Moto X’s exclusive features. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, proceed with caution: The Moto X makes a pretty compelling case for itself.


Motorola AssistScreenshot_2013-10-18-13-07-36

Motorola Assist is basically contextual awareness. Your phone figures out what you’re up to and automates tasks and brings the stuff you need front and center. There’s a series of actions and options that can be set for when you’re driving, in a meeting, or sleeping and once activated, you never have to touch a thing!

Driving – Using GPS, your Moto X knows when you’re driving. In Driving mode, it’ll optionally reads out your texts and tell you who’s calling (with auto-reply options).

Meeting – Using your Google Calendar, Motorola Assist knows when you have a meeting. It’ll automatically put your phone on silent and can auto-reply to missed calls from your favorite contacts.

Sleeping – Assist knows when you’re sleeping too. Not in a weird “I’m watching you” way. Rather in a “oh, you’ve turned in? Let me silence your phone during the hours you specified” way. If a contact calls twice within the span of five minutes, suggesting that the call is important, it’ll still ring through.



Active Notifications

Active Notifications alters the way you receive notifications based on where you are and what you’re up to.

Active Display – When you receive a notification, the Moto X’s screen will fade in and out to “quietly” inform you. Using internal sensors, the Moto X won’t show these notifications if your phone is face down, in your pocket or purse, or if you’re on a call. Only want to be alerted by certain apps? Active Display lets you choose the types of notifications you want to see!

Motorola Connect – Motorola has launched a nifty Chrome extension letting you send and receive text messages, see who’s calling and view phone notifications directly from your browser!



Touchless Control

Lets you control your Moto X entirely hands-free. After training it to listen for your voice (and no one else’s), saying “OK Google Now” fires up Google Now. Get news and sports scores, check the weather, easily text your friends, email a co-worker, update your schedule and much more without ever touching your phone!

If you’re driving and want to listen to music, you could ask Google Now to play a specific song, album, or artist. Or, if you hear a song you like on the radio, simply ask “what song is this” and Google will speak the answer to you! There are tons of possibilities with this amazing feature. Moto X owners: Let us know if you’ve come up with any unique ways that Touchless Control can help.


While the slogan “Life Companion” has already been claimed by another of the major Android smartphone makers, it would never have been more fitting than if applied to this, the truly one-of-a-kind Moto X. It’s one of those “you don’t know what you’re missing out on” kind of things. We expect many of the smart features the Moto X brings to the table will find their way into the smartphone standard in the future.

At this point, we’d be remiss not to mention that we have the Moto X available on the Ting devices page in both black and white.

You Asked: Android Parental Controls

If you have young children (or really, even if you don’t) you might have noticed that they’re drawn to smartphones and tablets like moths to a flame.

Here are a few tips on locking your device down so kids can play without the risk of warping their fragile little mind… and without the risk of them accidentally emailing your boss. Or, if they have their own smartphone and you’re looking to make it kid-friendly, we can help with that too.

If you’ve got any suggestions on how to make smartphones easier and safer for little hands, we’d love to hear them! Hit the comments that follow this article.

Below, we list some of our favorite ways to protect the kidlets.


Native features

Disable paid app purchases without a password

Make sure your child can’t go on a virtual shopping spree:

  1. Go to the Google Play store on your phone and open the Settings menu
  2. Under User Controls, ensure “Password – Use password to restrict purchases” is checked

Restrict mature applications in Google Play

On the Google Play Store, apps are assigned a maturity rating. You can change what types of apps will be displayed by:

  1. Heading to the Google Play store on your phone and opening the Settings menu
  2. Under User Controls, open “Content Filtering”
  3. Uncheck the content filtering levels that are inappropriate for your child

Disable external app downloads

Android allows you to download apps from places outside the official Play store and then install them on your device. To turn the option to “sideload” applications off:

  1. Open the main Android Settings page
  2. Under Personal, open the Security page
  3. Under Device Administration, uncheck “Unknown Sources”


Free third-party apps

Depending on your child’s age and level of tech knowledge, you may want to install a parental control app from the Play store. Whether you’re looking for a secure browser, app blocker or screen lock, we’ve got you covered.


AppLock lets you password protect the applications of your choosing (Gallery, Email, Contacts, Chrome, etc.). Only unlock the apps that you deem appropriate for your child.

Toddler Lock

Toddler Lock is a nifty app that functions as both a lock screen and drawing board. Your child can doodle with various colors for as long as they desire without having to worry about them opening an app or making a phone call.

K9 Web Protection (Official Website)

K9 Web Protection is a Firefox-based browser that restricts access from mature websites (pornography, gambling, drugs, violence, malware, phishing, etc.). It blocks the usage of other browsers, as well as Google Play and YouTube access. URL History also cannot be deleted, so you’ll know everywhere your child has surfed.

The web-based version includes some advanced features like time restrictions and custom lists, so look out for these being added to the Android app in the near future!




Five things you didn’t know your smartphone could do

Smartphones have now evolved to a point where they can complete unique tasks and function as an “all-in-one” gadget. There’s an endless number of awesome things your pocket-sized computer can do, so why not try out something new?

Instead of going about your daily activities of browsing the web, uploading Vines, watching GIFs or getting that perfect filter, check out five things you probably didn’t know your smartphone could do:


1. Remotely control your electronics

Whether you want to start your morning coffee from the comfort of your bed, or turn off your lights after you’ve left for work, the Belkin WeMo switch is one of the most useful gadgets around for smartphones today. After purchasing the WeMo switch for $50, all you gotta do is download the WeMo app (for Android 4.0 and higher), connect your switch to WiFi (or a mobile hotspot), plug your electronic device into the switch and you’re good to go!

You can turn it on or off from anywhere your smartphone has internet access, along with setting a schedule to complete these tasks automatically.


2.  Scan high-quality documents

Did you know you can use your smartphone as a scanner? With CamScanner, you can take a picture of any document and instantly convert it to a high-quality JPEG, PDF or whatever file format you’d prefer. You can directly send this file to Google Docs and other cloud storage programs, as well as attach it to an email! Make sure to try out the free version before purchasing the paid one for 5 bucks!

As an extra tip, you can download a sweet app called WorldCard Mobile to scan business cards with your smartphone. Once scanned, the app will automatically retrieve the card info, create contact details for the individual, and place it in the correct fields. Keep in mind that there’s a free and paid version available.


3. Play laser tag

AppTag has designed a cool product which uses your phone and an external accessory to play laser tag with friends! The Laser Blaster holds your smartphone in place and is your weapon of choice. The AppTag App uses Augmented Reality to add to your First Person Shooter experience by including medkits, armour, weapons, ammo packs, and even enemy monsters! Check out the multiplayer promo video below. While we can’t guarantee your experience will be this intense, it definitely looks like a ton of fun!


4. Use Bluetooth and a “smart beacon” to connect your device to the world around you


These smart beacons, called tōd, interact with your smartphone in three different ways: in range, out of range, and scheduled. Using Bluetooth 4.0, these beacons can trigger the tōd app to perform different tasks depending on where you (and the beacon) are located. The app can be customized to do a variety of things:

  • It can track the location of your child, pet, etc.
  • You can schedule a message to automatically send your boss if you’re running late for work.
  • It will instantly switch your smartphone to hands-free mode when you enter your vehicle.

Tōd is also great for businesses, as it is much more useful than the currently-popular NFC tags. For example, music festival organizers could auto-send set times and other event info to their guests upon entering the smart beacon range (which would likely be the concert gates). While Android is not yet supported by tōd, they’ve announced that an App is coming this fall!


5. Measure the speed of a moving object

Speed Gun is a nifty tool that uses your camera to measure the speed of a moving object.

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Make sure you manually input the distance from your object (or person) or it won’t show any readings. This can easily be done with apps such as Smart Measure (or a normal measuring tape). If you notice that your readings are inaccurate, use the Speed Calibration option in Settings for a quick fix!


Know of any other unique things a smartphone can do? Let us know in the comments!

Ting’s favorite features of Windows Phone 8!

We recently introduced our first Windows Phone to the Ting device lineup, and after getting our hands on an HTC 8XT, we thought we’d tell you about our favorite features of the new and improved Windows Phone 8!


Improve your Battery Life

BatterySaverWhile the battery life of previous generations of Windows Phone may have been criticized, the new WP8 operating system aims to put this issue to rest. Microsoft has developed a nifty Battery Saver tool located inside the Settings menu. This feature can reduce the amount of data transmitted through your phone. When enabled, Battery Saver allows calls and texts but disables the syncing of email and other data-accessing apps. It also shows your remaining battery life and the estimated time before your phone will conk out.

In the (not so) advanced settings, you have three battery conservation options to choose from. Keep in mind that battery life is considered low at 20%.

Lock Screen Notifications

wp_ss_20130906_0005Windows Phone 8 has added several notification features to their lock screen, making it easy to see what you need with a quick glance. WP8 introduces two types of app notifications:

Detailed Status – Notification that gives you a lot of info on one app. You can only enable one detailed status app at a time.

Quick Status – Notification for multiple apps, which shows a small amount of info. You can enable five of these at once.

The apps you can pick are relative to the apps you’ve downloaded, as many third party apps are eligible (such as Facebook and Twitter). Natively supported apps include mail, messaging, calendar, missed calls and voicemail.

New Native Features

wp_ss_20130906_0002Windows Phone has done an excellent job of adding “extras” into the stock version of their new operating system. These preloaded features have been implemented to make your WP8 experience even easier.

Text your location

Instantly send your exact coordinates to others by “attaching” your location to text messages. It’s that easy!

Data Sense

Never accidentally get lumped out of your bucket! Data Sense allows you to set a cellular data cap which will notify you or automatically stop mobile data usage, whichever you’d prefer. You can also choose to restrict background data when you’re nearing your cap, to avoid falling into the next bucket. The hard cap on Ting’s dashboard has been known to have a slight delay, but Data Sense will automatically stop cellular data when you reach the specified limit.



Pretty self explanatory app that uses your flash as a flashlight. Microsoft has given you three brightness levels to suit your needs (and save your battery).

Finding a song

Similar to the apps SoundHound and Shazam, your phone “listens” to any song and instantly tells you the name, artist and where to buy it! To use this feature, tap the search button and choose the music icon at the bottom.

SkyDrive Integration


In this day and age, cloud storage is essential for mobile computing. You can effortlessly access your data wherever you want, whenever you want. Be sure to set up Microsoft SkyDrive on your device (and computer) for an easy way to wirelessly access, transfer and share files, along with picking up 7GB of free storage!

SkyDrive isn’t a native app on your device, so make sure to grab it from the Microsoft Apps+Games store.


Tiles are live images on the home screen that link to an app and can be customized in many different ways. Your homescreen can support an unlimited number of tiles which can be rearranged (and resized) however you’d like. Here’s a few customization options that we think you’ll enjoy.

Local Scout

Local Scout helps you find stores, restaurants and events in your area, and works much like Android’s Google Now.

You can add Bing’s Local Scout to your homescreen by turning on GPS, hitting the search button, and choosing the house icon at the bottom. Once you’ve opened the app, click the settings button and “pin to start” which will create a tile that you can resize and move on your homescreen.


Groups allow you to see social updates from a specified selection of people, all in one place. You can add your favorite friends and family into groups that can be pinned as a tile on your homescreen. This way, you can easily find the social updates you care about without having to scan through Facebook or Twitter.

Add a group by selecting the People icon, swiping left or right to find Together, and tapping the plus sign. Here, you can create a Group, name it and add whoever you want! To create a homescreen tile, press the pin icon once you’ve opened the Group.


Know of any awesome Windows Phone features we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!

Introducing Android Device Manager, the easiest way to track your phone

Google recently released a remote tracking program for its Android users, and it’s a convenient feature that we’re excited to tell you about!

The new Android Device Manager has been automatically added to every Android device running 2.2 and higher (98.7% of Android users). This program is used remotely by going to Android Device Manager serves three main purposes:

  1. It lets you locate your device on a Google Map in a browser.
  2. It lets you ring your device at maximum volume for five minutes.
  3. If your device is gone, it lets you at least erase your personal information with a factory reset. Note that the option to factory reset your device must be activated ahead of time… before you need it.

*Keep in mind that your phone must be on and connected to a network for these features to work.

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To activate the “Erase Device” feature, open the green Google Settings app on your device. Choose Android Device Manager and enable “Allow remote factory reset.” Note that you won’t find Android Device Manager in your regular settings menu. Look for the green Google settings icon in your Android app tray.

What’s interesting about this particular feature addition is that it came without a full Android OS update. This indicates that Google can push bug fixes and new features behind the scenes.

While you’ve been able to download third party tracking apps for years, nothing beats a native app that serves this function. Too often, users don’t take the necessary precautions and only realize once it’s too late. Apparently, Google has stepped in to save us from ourselves!

Five of our favorite Galaxy S4 features

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a pretty spectacular smartphone… and we’re not just saying that because we have it in the Ting lineup.

It’s a device we’ll look back on when we’re talking about the Samsung Galaxy IIX (this assuming Samsung will go back to the Roman numeral versioning system) as a turning point; the time when the specs of a phone caught up to the prospects of what it can do and when the raw technology behind the scenes took a back seat to the user experience. Not to get too philosophical or hyperbolic, of course.

There’s little official talk of tech specs with the S4. Not because they’re not impressive but because the Samsung sell here is more about how the device fits into your life rather than how fast the processor is (quad core 1.9GHz, for the record) or how much RAM it’s rocking (2GB, just in case you were wondering).

After a month or so with the S4, here are a few of our favorite features; things that make the S4 the “life companion” Samsung promised it would be.

Easy Mode

If you’re giving an S4 over to a less than tech-savvy parent or spouse, activate Easy Mode first to keep things nice and simple without dulling the smartphone experience too much.

Easy Mode is much easier to see and to interact with given the large icons. It cuts the home screens down to three (from the usual five), puts the most often used apps front and center. Easy Mode makes the smartphone experience much more accessible… both literally and figuratively.

How to activate Easy Mode on the S4

  1. Drag down from the top of the screen to open the notifications bar.
  2. Tap on the Settings icon and then on the My device tab.
  3. Tap on Home screen mode and choose Easy mode then tap Apply.
  4. Hit OK on the confirmation screen.
  5. The S4 will process for a second and then you’ll be dropped in to your simpler, more user-friendly new home screen.

Multi Window mode

Mult-View is actual, proper multitasking. Multi Window mode apps are accessible via a handy sidebar on the left-hand side of the screen and the mode lets you run two apps, one at the top and one at the bottom of the spacious 5-inch S4 screen, at once. Keep your Twitter feed open while you read the day’s news. Keep a map open atop the screen while you send an email and so on.

How to access Multi Window mode

  1. Ensure Multi Window is turned on: Swipe down from the top of the screen to access the notifications panel. Swipe the top bar to find “Multi Window” and tap to turn it on (green) or off (grey).
  2. Any time you want to access Multi Window mode, tap and hold the back button.
  3. Tap to open any app from the sidebar.
  4. Tap and drag any other app to either to top or bottom of the screen to start Multi Window mode.

Eye Control

Your Samsung Galaxy S4 tracks your eyes and does some smart things without you even having to think about it. The most basic example: It keeps the screen on as long as you’re looking at it. Another: It pauses the video you’re watching when you avert your eyes (especially handy if you’re following along with a how-to video, for example).

The S4 also does what it calls Smart Scroll where the web page you’re viewing automatically scrolls down for you when you tilt your head. It takes a little getting used to but it might come in handy… you never know.

How to turn on Smart Screen settings

  1. Drag the notifications bar down and select Settings.
  2. Tap on the My device, scroll down to Smart Screen and tap to enter.
  3. Tap to turn on the various Smart Screen features:
  • Smart stay: Keeps the screen on as long as you’re looking at it.
  • Smart rotation: The screen rotation will match your sight, not just its physical rotation
  • Smart pause: A video you’re watching will pause if you avert your eyes.
  • Smart Scroll: The screen will scroll vertically in response to your head movements.

Air View

Air View is a handy feature that lets you interact with your phone without actually touching it. Hover a finger over the screen and you can get a preview of text messages or pictures in your gallery. Hover over a speed dial contact and see that person’s details. Hover over the scrubber bar on a video and see a snapshot of upcoming scenes. Hover over text or images on a web page and get a magnified view. Actually, don’t do that last one… it really doesn’t work that well if we’re being completely honest with each other.

How to turn on Air View

  1. Pull down the notifications bar and tap on the settings icon.
  2. Tap on My device, swipe down to Air View and slide the switch to the ON position.
  3. Tap on Air View to enter settings.
  4. Turn the various Air View features on or off by tapping or swiping the ON / OFF switch.

Smart Alerts

Your S4 can let you know if there’s anything requiring your attention anytime you pick up your phone. With Smart Alerts turned on, your phone will vibrate to let you know if there’s a missed call or text message requiring your attention.

How to turn on Smart Alerts

  1. Pull down the notifications bar and enter Settings.
  2. Go to the My device tab and swipe down to Motions and gestures.
  3. Ensure Motion is turned on then tap to enter Motion settings.
  4. Turn on Smart Alert

There are a number of other neat features buried in the Motions and gestures menu. Poke around and turn on the ones that sound useful to you.

Use your S4 as a universal remote

The Samsung Galaxy S4 can take control of all your home entertainment components whether said components comprise a beat up old TV or a cutting edge home theater in the basement. It’s all in the WatchON app.

How to turn your Samsung Galaxy S4 into a universal remote

  1. From a home screen or the app tray, tap to open the WatchON app. You’ll be guided through an initial setup process. You can change these settlings or add more components later.
  2. Tap to select your country or region then enter your ZIP code and hit Done.
  3. Select your TV service provider.
  4. Tap Personalize to set your genre preferences. Tap through the various configuration options then tap Done.
  5. Sign in to your Samsung account.
  6. Tap the remote icon in the top right then tap Set up now.
  7. Select your TV brand then tap the Power button on the screen. Tap No… to try another code or Yes… if your TV turned on.
  8. Tap through to set up your S4 to act as a remote for all your home theater components by following the subsequent steps.


Rather than dragging one finger down on the notifications bar then tapping around, try dragging down with two fingers. This drops you into a quick access menu that lets you turn different features and services on or off with a tap.