A First Look at Samsung’s Galaxy Beam

A Projector in Your Pocket

The biggest news so far at Mobile World Congress is hidden in a small room in the back of the Samsung booth. Samsung’s Galaxy Beam is a smartphone like no other. The phone has a built-in DLP projector, and puts out a surprising amount of light for its size (15 lumen). Pico projectors are nothing new; They’ve been demonstrated by Samsung and others since 2009, but this one is supposed to ship in the first half of this year.

The first big surprise at Mobile World Congress is from Samsung

Thinner than You Think

The phone is only 12.55mm thick which makes it thinner than an HTC Rezound (and only 3.25mm thicker than an iPhone 4S). The projector project whatever is on your phone screen on the wall up to 50”.

I saw it open a PowerPoint slideshow and project it on the wall. Once open, you can use your finger to draw on the slides. Very cool.

Although Samsung claims this device can play a full movie (up to 3 hours) with the built-in 2000 mAh battery. The device does gets pretty warm, so I’ll be curious to see if this is true.

A special app comes with the Galaxy Beam which lets you select what is displayed and draw on the screen. (See photo on the right)

I’ll write more about the other hot new products from Mobile World Congress later.

– Rick

Copyright 2012 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

Ten Popular Myths about Google Wallet & NFC

Last update: May 15, 2014

Everything You Need to Know About Google Wallet and NFC

You can make a purchase without opening the Google Wallet app

With all the talk about Google Wallet being hacked, I thought it might be nice to do a story about it. In case you don’t already know, Google Wallet allows you to make purchases by tapping your NFC-enabled smartphone at PayPass cash registers or terminals. NFC stands for Near Field Communication, and allows two devices to communicate when they’re moved close together. NFC builds upon earlier RFID-based systems like smart cards by allowing two-way communication. Smart cards are only capable of one-way communication. NFC also has advantages over wireless standards like Bluetooth, because it doesn’t require pairing. It also sets up faster, requires less power, and has a shorter range than Bluetooth, which reduces the chance of unwanted interception. Although NFC has been in products for more than six years, there is still a lot of misinformation about it. Let’s start by addressing some of the biggest myths:

Ten Myths about Google Wallet and NFC

  1. Myth: Google Wallet was hacked and is unsafe to use – Reality: While it’s true that the original Google Wallet was hacked, there was little risk to anyone who used a PIN, or pattern-based screen lock and no risk unless your phone was taken by someone with access to the hack. Besides, this issue was fixed by a software update. Even if your phone was stolen by a hacker, the same rules apply to Google Wallet which apply to traditional credit cards. In most cases you have no liability, and unlike your credit card, a hacker can only spend money which was added to your Google Wallet.
  1. Myth: Google Wallet only works with Citi MasterCard – Reality: Not true. Back in August, Google rolled out a cloud-based version of Google Wallet which supports all major credit and debit cards. Since that time Google Wallet usage has more than doubled. You just link one or more of your cards with Google Wallet and it remembers all of your data.
  1. Myth: Only a few phones support NFC today – Reality: Nine out of ten cellphone makers have phones on the market this year with an NFC chip inside them [Source: ABI Research]. Examples include the Samsung Galaxy SIII, LG Nexus 4, HTC Droid DNA, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Google Nexus S, LG Intuition, HTC Evo 4G LTE and Samsung Galaxy SII Skyrocket. Over 60 other devices support NFC today as well including other phones from RIM (Blackberry), HTC, LG, Nokia and Samsung. Here is the full list. ABI forecasts that 285 million smartphones and tablets with embedded NFC chips will ship in 2013, up from 102 million this year. Google Wallet is also preloaded on the NFC-enabled Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets. Soon you may not need your carriers permission or an NFC-enabled phone to buy things using Google Wallet. Google’s new credit card is rumored to work anywhere that accepts traditional credit or debit cards.

You can use Google Wallet anywhere you see these images

  1. Myth: Google Wallet is only accepted by a few merchants – Reality: Google Wallet is currently accepted at over thirty different retail chains including 7 Eleven, American Eagle, Banana Republic, Best Buy, Bloomingdales, Champs, Chevron, Container Store, CVS Pharmacy, Duane Reade, Einstein Bros Bagels, Foot Locker, Guess, Home Depot, Jack in the Box, Jamba Juice, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Noah’s Bagles, Office Max, Old Navy, Peet’s Coffee, Pinkberry, Radio Shack, Rite Aid, Sports Authority, Sunoco (gas station), Toys R US, Whole Foods, Yellow Cab (NYC) and others. That doesn’t seem like much, but it means you can use your Google Wallet at over 300,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled terminals. The Google Market has an app called MasterCard PayPass Locator, which helps you to locate places you can use Google Wallet, but it’s missing many places which accept it. Look for these symbols above to find merchants who accept Google Wallet. Google Wallet can also be used for in-app payments on your mobile devices although there has been some controversy over this. Experts say in five years 86 percent of all North American merchants will have NFC-enabled terminals. However, only 53 percent of merchants will support NFC worldwide by 2017.
  1. Myth: NFC is new and unproven – Reality: NFC phones have been around since 2006. NFC has been used by consumers in Japan, South Korea and European cities for several years without problems. London buses now accept payment from NFC-enabled phones like the Samsung Galaxy S III.
  1. Myth: Most carriers are still preventing Google Wallet from being installed on their devices – Reality: Google Wallet can now be installed on every mobile device in the U.S. running Android 2.3 and later. It can even be downloaded on devices without NFC support and formerly carrier blocked devices like the Verizon Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4. That’s the good news. The bad news is, for now, Tap and pay functionality is available in the US, and requires one of the following NFC-enabled Android devices shown here with a Secure Element chip, on select carrier networks. In other words, if you’re not on Sprint or have a Nexus device, you’re still screwed.
  1. Myth: No signature is required when buying things using Google Wallet – Reality: Although this is generally true, a signature may be required when purchasing items costing $30 or more.
  1. Myth: Apple doesn’t plan to support NFC – Reality: According to Bloomberg, future generations of iPhone, iPod and iPad will support NFC. Windows Phone 8 is also rumored to support NFC.
  1. Myth: Google Wallet will quickly drain your battery – Reality: Although this was true earlier, the problem was fixed by a software update. Enabling NFC consumes some power, but on my phone it’s responsible for less than 2% of total battery usage.
  2. This explains how you can purchase things without an Internet connection

    This explains how you can purchase things without an Internet connection

  1. Myth: You need to have an Internet connection in order to buy something using Google Wallet. Reality: Not true. You do not need to be connected to a Wi-Fi or 3G/4G network in order to Tap and Pay using Google Wallet. That means tablet users without cellular service can use Google Wallet for purchases.

How To Secure Your Google Wallet

As mentioned earlier, the best way to protect your Google Wallet is to lock your screen. “Face Unlock,” “Pattern,” “PIN” and “Password” are all ways to do this. If you’re still worried, here are some more extreme steps to secure your Google Wallet:

There are several easy ways you can secure your phone

  1. Make sure “USB debugging” is not enabled – When enabled, the data on mobile devices can be accessed without first passing a lock screen challenge unless full disk encryption is also enabled.
  2. Enable full disk encryption – This will prevent even USB Debugging from bypassing the lock screen.

If your phone is stolen and you have Google Wallet installed, Google recommends you call 855-492-5538, and ask them to disable your prepaid card.

Not Just For Financial Transactions

NFC isn’t just good for financial transactions. Google Wallet also includes support for SingleTap, enabling users to redeem coupons and earn reward points. NFC can also be used to share contacts, photos and other files. If you’re running Android 4.0 today, you can Android Beam web pages, contacts, maps, YouTube videos and more, from one phone to another. Users of the popular Foursquare app can now bump phones and transfer places visited or lists. They can also check-in or initiate friend requests wherever NFC tags are. Imagine going to a venue and touching on a sign with an embedded NFC tag to check in. Pretty cool.

NFC isn’t just good for mobile payments, in the future NFC may even help you set up Wi-Fi connections, or enter multiplayer mobile games. There are so many things NFC is good for. I’m looking forward to using my phone to pay for mass transit. That way I won’t have to take out my wallet on a crowded train platform. You can even order business cards with an NFC chip into them, which will take the person you give them to a URL of your choosing. The main advantage to these is the fact that the URL can be changed without reprinting more business cards.

NFC isn’t limited to smartphones either. Next generation computers like the Sony Tap 20 and Duo 11, will include NFC support so you can beam data from your phone to computer, by simply touching them together. You can also purchase a Nexus 7 tablet for only $199 which has full support for NFC and Google Wallet. That’s one of the easiest ways to try Google Wallet at the moment, since carriers like Verizon are still trying to block it.

Google Wallet Isn’t the Only Game In Town

There are other mobile payment systems as well. One of the most promising is called Isis. Like Google Wallet, Isis lets you add your credit cards to your mobile wallet, but that’s not all. Isis is also supposed to let you add debit and loyalty cards to your mobile wallet, and provide access to personalized offers. That means after you use your phone to pay for a Starbucks coffee, you can tap again to get a discount or add the purchase to your Starbucks loyalty card. Isis is currently being tested in two U.S. cities, and coming soon to NFC-enabled phones from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.

According to an article in Mobile Week, Isis has some distinct advantages because it’s setting up a system that can give financial institutions the reassurance that transactions conducted by smartphone will be secure. Isis has also lined up cards from Chase, Capital One, American Express and Barclays. Its transactions are supported by the Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover payment networks.

Isis isn’t the only new player. Retailers including Walmart, Target, Sears and others announced their own own payment system back in August called MCX. Since then they’ve gone dark however.

ISIS is conducting a mobile payment trail in two U.S. cities

ISIS is conducting a mobile payment trail in two U.S. cities

October Updates

  • Customers in Salt Lake City and Austin can now download the Isis Mobile Wallet from Google Play. Although Isis hopes to have twenty phones supported by the end of the year, only three Verizon phones are support at the moment: the HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE by HTC, the Motorola DROID RAZR HD and the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD. Before Verizon customers can use Isis they must first get a new SIM card, then add their credit, debit and loyalty cards into the Wallet. T-Mobile currently has three Isis-ready devices: the Samsung’s Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy S II and Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G.
  • With or without Apple, the NFC mobile payments will hit $100 billion in by 2016.
  • Other Recent NFC-related Announcements

    November Updates

  • It appears Google will be releasing their own Google Wallet Card. You can add money to it like a debit card, and use it anyplace credit cards are accepted. Money added to this card can also be spent using the Google Wallet app running on supported NFC devices like the Nexus 7 tablet and more eligible devices. More info.
  • Google Wallet will soon let you make purchases on mobile sites. Soon you’ll be able to buy things from websites using your phone and Google Wallet. Google will auto-fill your name, billing address and card information into the proper fields of the website, making purchases faster and easier. More info.
  • Visa’s mobile payments platform V.me also recently emerged from a year long beta and is now available at 23 retailers and 53 different banks.
  • Chinese smartphone manufacturer GEAK recently announced an NFC ring that stores your identity, unlocks your smartphone and can share your contact info with others.
  • Soon you'll be able to use your phone to unlock your door

    Soon you’ll be able to use your phone to unlock your door

    Spring 2013 Updates

  • Hyundai is showing a concept car which allows users to unlock their car by tapping their phone on an NFC tag on the car door. They plan to release this publicly by 2015.
  • Belkin’s new HD Bluetooth music receiver uses NFC “tap-and-play” pairing.
  • LG Electronics is coming out with new NFC-enabled smart appliances that will let the user start a load of laundry while driving home from work, tell a robotic cleaner to vacuum the floor, or view what’s in a refrigerator from their smartphone.
  • Soon you will be able to unlock your door using an NFC-enabled Android phone like the Galaxy S III. The ShareKey app will also allow you to grant access to others for a specific time period. That way a repair person could enter your residence when you aren’t home.
  • At the end of January, Google updated Google Wallet with a new Holo-style user interface, better application stability and improved battery life.
  • A new app lets users users to add digital information to Near Field Communication (NFC) business cards.
  • Google Wallet now allows you to attach money to an email just like a photo or file.
  • Summer Updates

  • Google Wallet launched a new promotion with popular Android apps and websites in a bid to increase its brand recognition. Gives financial incentives of $15 to $25.
  • Brother announces the first NFC-enabled printers, which let consumer to tap their NFC-enabled smart device to the printer and print (or scan) a document or image.
  • Other Updates

  • Google is bringing NFC-enabled app vending machines to Japan. More info
  • Google is testing NFC security tokens that could get rid of the password for good. More info.
  • Mobile payment service Isis plans to celebrate their (better late than never) nationwide launch with 1 million free smoothies. More info.
  • Using NFC, IBM brings dual-factor authentication to mobile. More info
  • 7-Eleven, Best Buy cease NFC trials – “Near-field communication trials at some Best Buy and 7-Eleven stores are ending, as the retailers haven’t seen a payoff for the costs involved in enabling the technology, Rebecca Borison writes. “For various reasons NFC-based mobile payments options have yet to gain traction, and NFC provides no real benefit to the customer over other less costly options,” 7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris said. Best Buy and 7-Eleven may implement the mobile-payment service to be offered by the Merchant Customer Exchange.” Source
  • Isis claims to have activated 20,000 accounts a day over the past month, doubling its March activity. They now have 600,000 subscribers and are supported on 68 phones. Source
  • – Rick

    Where to Learn More

  • Learn more about Google Wallet.
  • Learn more about NFC.
  • Learn more about Android Beam.
  • Learn more about Foursquare’s support for NFC.
  • How to get Google Wallet to work on a rooted Verizon Samsung Galaxy SIII. Step-by-step instructions. For advanced users only.
  • Here’s a great story about a Wired writer who went without a wallet for an entire month.
  • How the fragmented world of mobile wallets will sow confusion.
  • 8 scenarios where NFC makes sense
  • NFC: Not just for mobile payments anymore (CNET)
  • NFC becoming more main stream with operators driving SIM-based NFC. As an example, Samsung teamed up with Visa to make mobile payments common place.
  • The first NFC payment service is being launched in China, in a joint collaboration between China Unicom and China Merchants Bank (CMB).
  • Copyright 2013-2014 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

    Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

    The Pros and Cons of Rooting Your Phone

    Last update: November 28, 2013

    This article has had over 90,000 views! Thanks for reading it.

    Rooting your mobile device allows you to do things which are not possible on a normal smartphone or tablet. Carriers normally prevent access to root-level files, because you could delete essential files or cause others problems. Unfortunately this limits what you can do with your mobile devices. You bought it and you should have the right to do whatever you want with it. There are some compelling reasons why you should consider rooting your device.

    Reasons to Root

      Imagine sharing your phone's fast 4G connection with your tablet

    1. Free Tethering – You already pay for a mobile data plan and shouldn’t you have to pay more to share your cellular connection with your other devices. Just download a free tethering app, and in seconds you’ll be able to share your phones cellular modem with your tablet, laptop or other devices. Now you can access the Internet from your tablet even when a Wi-Fi hotspot is not available. Wi-Fi isn’t your only option, you can also tether your devices over Bluetooth, or by connecting a USB cable. Although you don’t need to root your phone to run tethering apps like FoxFi, ClockworkMod Tether or 1-Click WiFi Tether, some of the best tethering apps only work on rooted phones.
    2. Delete Carrier Bloatware – Carriers load your phone with lots of apps you’ll never use. These apps consume storage space, memory and other resources. After rooting your phone, it’s easy to delete carrier-installed apps you don’t want. Although there are several ways to do this, I recommend you download Titanium Backup. This app allows you to uninstall any app with a single click.
    3. Eliminate Banner Ads – Apps like AdFree remove most advertisements that appear in your browser and other apps. This is done using a blacklist which blocks ads before they can even download data. Now you can play Angry Birds and most other apps ad-free. This is a big deal, because it means you can get one of the biggest benefits of paid apps for free.
    4. Apps like Titanium Backup can backup everything on your phone and sync it with the cloud

    5. Backup Everything on Your Phone – Apps like Titanium Backup allow you automatically backup everything on your phone. This includes protected apps, system apps and data on your SD card. If you purchase a license key for Titanium Backup you can upload your backups to your free Dropbox account. This makes it easy to restore a backup from the cloud if your phone is ever lost or stolen.
    6. Make Your Phone Run Faster – Apps like SetCPU allow you to overclock the speed of your processor to make your phone run faster. More info.
    7. Increase Your Battery Life – Custom ROMs and apps like SetCPU increase the battery life of your phone. In some cases the difference is significant. For example, a Nexus 7 running a CyanogenMod ROM gets up to twice the battery life of an off-the-shelf Nexus 7.
    8. Install Custom ROMs – After you root your phone, you can install custom ROMs which give your phone better battery life, faster performance, custom themes and additional features like special audio processing. Cynanogenmod is the most popular aftermarket firmware. It has a new installer that is very easy to use.
    9. Run Any App You Like – Once you root your phone you’ll be able to install any app you like. This includes apps that have been blocked by your carrier, or banned by Google.
    10. Run Apps on Your SD Card – Most mobile devices do not allow you to install or move apps to your SD card. By doing this you free up internal memory.
    11. Perform Other UI Tweaks – Want to remove the search box from your home screen and replace it with a search button? No problem. What about adding back a menu button to the main screen of your phone. Again, no problem. Do a Google Search or check the XDA Developers forums to learn more about these and many others UI tweaks.

    Popular Myths About Rooting

    1. Rooting Voids Your Warranty – Although it’s true rooting your phone could void its warranty, if you restore it to its original factory condition, it’s unlikely your carrier could tell it was ever rooted.
    2. It’s Easy to Brick your Phone – Not true. Most Android phones are not easy to brick, if you carefully follow directions.
    3. Rooting is a Cat and Mouse Game – Not true. Once you root your phone you normally won’t have to do it again.
    4. Rooting is Difficult – Although it varies from phone to phone, rooting your phone isn’t as hard as it once was. In fact, one-click rooting apps are available in the Android Market.
    5. Rooting Will Make Your Phone Less Stable – Not true. When done correctly, rooting your phone will not make it any less stable.
    6. Rooting Makes It Hard to Transfer or Sell Your Phone to Another Person – Not true. I recently gave my rooted Galaxy Nexus to my son. He inserted the SIM card which was provided by Verizon for my new phone and then called a toll-free number to activate it. He then reset the phone (to wipe out all of my info) and rebooted (entering his Google account info). Withing 15 minutes, all essential services were functional on his rooted phone, and the phone was automatically downloading all of his apps.
    7. You Can’t Root a Phone With a Locked Bootloader – Not always true. A friend just rooted his Verizon Samsung Galaxy S3 even though it has a locked boot-loader. Instructions can be found here.

    Reasons Not to Root

    Although rooting your phone isn’t as dangerous as most people think, it’s not for everyone. Here are some risks you should be aware of before you root your phone.

      Overclocking your phone too much could cause it to overheat

    1. Rooting Could Be Illegal – Back in July of 2010, the U.S. federal government recognized the legality of jailbreaking a phone. Unfortunately starting on January 26th of 2013, it officially become illegal” to unlock a phone without your carriers permission. It’s still to soon to know whether this applies to all rooting, but it does not look good. Carriers like T-Mobile recommend customers contact their device manufacturer or AT&T directly to request the unlock code for their device, but don’t be surprised if these aren’t easy to get.
    2. Rooting Isn’t for Everyone – Although there a one-touch rooting solutions, I wouldn’t say rooting is easy yet. Some phones are easier to root than others. Make sure to do some serious research to find if others with your model are having good results when they try to root them.
    3. Rooting May Prevent You from Getting Updates – If you root your phone you may no longer be able to download and install over-the-air operating system updates. This was a problem for me when Verizon released Android 4.0.4 and 4.1 updates for my phone. There is a way around this, but it’s not easy. This issue affected my Samsung Galaxy Nexus — but probably applies to all Android phones and other carriers.
    4. Overclocking Can Cause Damage – If you overclock your phone too much you could cause it to overheat. You could even damage its processor, although some phones have safeguardus to prevent this.
    5. You May Need to Wipe Your Phone – In some cases you have to wipe your phone when you root it, so make sure to copy your media off of your phone. It’s also a good idea to make screen shots of all of your home screens and app page, so you can quickly restore your device to the same look and feel you had before.
    6. Issues With Some Media Rentals – You could receive an error when attempting to play a rented movie on a rooted device.
    7. Legal Risks – And last, but not least, the use of tethering software may violate your carrier’s Terms of Service — whatever that means. I’m unaware of anyone who has been prosecuted because they unlocked or rooted their phone.

    A Checklist for First-timers

      Rooting is not something you should attempt to do quickly. I recommend you complete this entire checklist before rooting your phone:

    1. Make sure you have step-by-step instructions for your exact model of phone before beginning.
    2. Make sure you have everything you need before beginning. This includes software drivers, ROMs, required apps, etc.
    3. Make sure to create a backup of your phone and all of its data before you root it. Some backup software doesn’t automatically backup all of your music and photos, so you might want to manually back those up.
    4. Make sure you know how to restore your phone to its original factory state if you don’t like the result of the rooting process. Even if you brick your phone, you can often restore it to its original factory condition. Here are some steps how to do this. Although these apply to the Samsung Galaxy S III, the information here applies to other phones as well.
    5. Try to find someone who can help you if problems occur. Your carrier will not help you if things don’t go right.

    Important: If you have any doubts after reading this, do not proceed until you can find someone to help you. I cannot help you, nor can I assume any responsibility for bricked phones.

    Some Important Closing Thoughts

    Although rooting is still too technical for many users, the process is getting easier. Unfortunately, you may now need an unlock code from your carrier to legally unlock your phone and you are unlikely to get that unless your contract is up. Rooting your phone for the first time can be scary, but I believe the benefits far exceed the risks. In the six months since I first rooted my phone, my experience has been 100% problem free — with one notable exception. When Verizon released OS updates for my rooted phone, I was unable to install them. Although I was able to find a solution to the problem online, it wasn’t simple, and required me to either restore my phone to stock, or wipe it and manually install the software update. Although major OS updates don’t happen that often, this is something to consider before rooting.

    Where to Learn More

    1. Android ROM and rooting dictionary for beginners
    2. Android 101: Rooting, Jailbreaking and Unlocking
    3. What is Rooting? (AndroidPIT Modder’s Guide)
    4. How To Root The Galaxy S II
    5. How To Install A Custom ROM On Your Rooted Samsung Galaxy S II
    6. Step-by-step instructions how to root the Samsung Galaxy S III
    7. A List of Good Root-only Apps (and more reasons to root)
    8. How to Un-root Your Samsung Galaxy S III and flash it back to Android 4.0.4
    9. How to hack your Android like a pro: Rooting and ROMs explained

    – Rick

    Copyright 2013 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

    Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1