RSS

Category Archives: tips

How to use whatsapp on multiple devices

One of my main gripe about the popular messaging platform whatsapp is its inability to be used simultaneously on multiple devices. Worse, it can only be installed on a phone device, leaving tablets in the cold.

Well, there is a partial workaround now. Earlier this year, whatsapp created a web app so you can have your whatsapp chat on your desktop computer using the Chrome browser. Things get more interesting, the fact that the web app now supports Firefox and Opera browsers. This creates a workaround to have whatsapp on however many devices you have.

If you have an Android device, it’s very simple. Simply go to web.whatsapp.com with the Chrome browser. You would be redirected to a page telling you to download the native app. Don’t worry. Simply go to the menu and check “request desktop app,” and now you should be greeted with the QR code you can scan with the whatsapp app you have on your phone. That’s it. This is great if you have whatsapp on your Android phone, and you want whatsapp messaging on your other Android devices, be it a tablet or phone. Do note that the way web whatsapp works is that you still need the phone with the native app connected to the internet at all times.

What if you cannot use Chrome? Download the Opera browser and do the same thing. Make sure to set the user agent as desktop.

What if you have an iPad? Well, unfortunately this workaround doesn’t work, even when you use Chrome for iOS. You will be simply redirected to a page saying your browser is not supported. So too bad for iOS fans.

It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. Ideally, you have a cloud based solution and native app on all platforms like telegram. This web app approach is actually more flexible as you can access the platform from any supported browsers. On the other hand, it depends on the browser on the specific platform. Android works fine, but not iOS.

Hope this can be useful for whatsapp fans.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 3, 2015 in tips

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Picking Your Wireless Carrier (USA): Data Plans for Tablets update

I made a post a while back about picking a data plan for a tablet with cellular radio. Some things happened early November, namely the release of the iPad Air. Well, in conjunction, both AT&T and T-Mobile rolled out new data plans that may be of some interest. Unlike typical post paid smartphone plans, data plans on US carriers are not that bad. So it’s great to see more choices.

First, AT&T. In addition to their regular plans, AT&T added two new plans. First one is 250MB for $5 that is good for one day. You may think WTF? However, this is actually not bad for travelers/tourists that may only need a day’s worth of data plan, and they don’t have to shell out $15 (which was the price for 250MB that is good for 1 month). The second plan is the one that is more interesting. $25 for 1GB that is good for 3 months. Why is this great? This allows you to have a secondary plan that will only cost you $8.33 a month, and you get 1GB total data. It is very useful when you occasionally bring your tablet with you on the go once in a while, and you want more than 200MB data per month (more on this later). What is even better, you can sign up for any of the data plans on your tablet (iPad, Nexus 7, etc), and then put the SIM on your smartphone, and voila, smartphone with only data plan. 🙂 I tried this on my HTC One and it works fine, with LTE to boot. Of course, there is a risk AT&T may do something, but so far things are working okay.

I did get into a snafu in activating the plan. It has been a while since I renew the plan on my AT&T account. A quick call to AT&T reprovisioned the SIM (assigned a different number than the old one) and I was good to go.

Next, T-Mobile. T-Mobile is doing something more aggressive. 200MB per month for FREE! Yes, free, as in no payment at all. Sounds good, right? Well, there’s a catch, and I spent hours with T-Mobile support (figured it out myself eventually).

The T-Mobile plan is automatic. If you have an existing prepaid mobile broadband data plan with T-Mobile, you will automatically get the plan, ie. if you don’t renew your plan, you will automatically get the 200MB per month for free.

So, what’s the catch again? Well, here’s my story. I got a T-Mobile SIM that I use on and off for data plan when I need it. I want to test this plan out, so I inserted the SIM on my iPad. Well, it did not work. Every time I tried going to any website, I got redirected to my T-Mobile site. If I tried logging in with my account information, it got stuck in a page saying the site is down. Now, I thought this would be as easy as T-Mobile re-provisioning my SIM just like my issue with AT&T, right? Nope. I called T-Mobile, the rep was quite baffled as everything was shown to be okay on their end, and decided to put in a temporary pass so at least it would work. Well, it did work for a couple of days, then it’s back to square one when the pass expired. Called T-Mobile again, wasted 1 hour being transferred multiple times and having to re-tell the story again and again, and the final rep pretended that she could not hear me and disconnected me. Some of the reps did not even know about the plan. Even funnier, one did not even know what an iPad is (he kept referring it as my phone, and one time he asked which manufacturer made the iPad, and whether it’s a T-Mobile or non-T-Mobile iPad. Seriously. Note that all iPads are unlocked so this should not even be questioned). Resetting the connection, rebooting the iPad, nothing.

I decided to go to a local T-Mobile store. The guy checked out my account, changed to a new SIM, still no go. My account showed that my device is my Nexus 7. When I activated that SIM for the first time, I did it on my Nexus 7. Well, guess what. Apparently the SIM is locked to whatever device it was originally activated from. I put the SIM into my Nexus 7, and it works. What a load of crap. I tried putting the SIM into my Nexus 4, and I got a voice mail saying that my service has been restricted. So yeah, T-Mobile doesn’t want you to switch your SIM around different devices. If you want data plan on a different tablet, you have to get a new SIM and activate it in that tablet. Also, you cannot use this trick to get a data only plan on your smartphone (similarly, T-Mobile does not allow you to use a SIM with a smartphone plan on a tablet).

Well, there you go. Newer options to get data plan on your tablet. If you don’t need to switch devices and 200MB per month is fine, the 200MB T-Mobile plan is great. However, once you need flexibility, you need to pay up. If you need a good amount of data on your tablet, AT&T’s 1GB for $25 for 3 months is not such a bad deal. If you don’t need it for that long, Verizon is better as they give you 1GB for $20. If you need a smartphone plan with a good amount of data, T-Mobile’s own $30 a month is still the best deal, giving you 5GB of 4G data. None of the tablet data plans can match that.

Hopefully my experience may be useful to others. 🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 4, 2013 in rant, tips

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Picking Your Wireless Carrier (USA) part 06: iPhone Tips and Tricks

All right, after exploring the choice of wireless service MVNOs, which one would you want to pick? From my experience, it depends on your phone. So let’s start with the big elephant in the room, the iPhone. My assumption is we are using an officially unlocked iPhone. Don’t ask me about unlocking, ask your carrier or ask yourself why you bought a locked phone to begin with. Right now, Apple is selling unlocked iPhones openly in the US, so the days of having to import expensive iPhones or jailbreaking are gone. All iPhones, the 5, 4S, and 4, are available unlocked straight from Apple. Obviously, you’ll be getting a GSM iPhone. The unlocked iPhone 5 will be the “AT&T” version.

Now, what if you have an iPhone from a carrier. Currently, iPhones are officially offered by AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, plus the 4/4S are offered by certain Sprint MVNOs/regional carriers. iPhones from carriers are provider locked by default, with one exception. AT&T now will unlock your iPhone if you are done with your contract or if you bought the iPhone full price (no contract or pay ETF). Sprint will not unlock their iPhones, other than for international use. Same thing with Verizon (with one exception).

Then, there is the model. If you have an iPhone 4, the only one that is unlockable is the GSM AT&T version. Sprint and Verizon iPhone 4 are CDMA only. As for the iPhone 4S, it’s a hybrid GSM/CDMA device. AT&T version is unlockable. Verizon and Sprint version are only unlockable for international carriers, meaning that Verizon and Sprint are blocking US GSM carriers’ SIM. (More reason to hate CDMA carriers). The iPhone 5 is also a hybrid device, with versions supporting GSM and AT&T LTE, and another one supporting CDMA, GSM, and Verizon/Sprint’s LTE. AT&T version is of course, unlockable after meeting the requirement I mentioned above. Sprint’s policy is unlocking only for international use. Verizon iPhone 5, however, is unlocked OUT OF THE BOX! Yes, if you have a Verizon iPhone 5, you can put in an AT&T/T-Mobile SIM and it will work just fine. No need for unlocking. Of course, you won’t get LTE on AT&T as the LTE frequency support differs than the AT&T version, but hey, this is huge. Verizon is forced to do this due to an agreement they had with the US government when they got the 700 LTE band.

In short, if you are on AT&T, you can get your iPhone unlocked by paying ETF or after the end of your contract. If you are on Verizon, only the iPhone 5 is unlocked. If you are on Sprint, you are screwed.

First thing first, you want to decide on which of the two parent carriers you want to go with. The choice is either AT&T or T-Mobile. All GSM iPhones (4/4S/5) support quad-band HSDPA (850/900/1900/2100) bands. So for the longest time, to be able to have 3G speed, you have to use AT&T or their MVNOs. Luckily, T-Mobile started to refarm their 1900 band for 3G on certain areas. You can check their coverage here, a site with a map from users indicating which areas have sightings of 3G access on 1900 band on T-Mobile. I would go and see your area first. If your area has many people indicating 3G access, then good news, your choice of providers expanded considerably as you won’t have to be stuck with EDGE if you pick T-Mobile or its MVNO. Do note that even if T-Mobile has “rolled” out the refarm, coverage may still be iffy. T-Mobile has officially announced my area to be a refarmed area. When I get 3G signal, it’s fast, way faster than AT&T’s 3G, However, it is also often that the connectivity reverted back to EDGE, especially indoors. So caveat emptor.

After you decide on the operator you want, next step is buying the SIM. Apple is not making things easy by using a micro SIM for the iPhone 4/4S and a nano SIM for the iPhone 5. Most MVNOs now do offer micro SIM as they realize the popularity of iPhone 4/4S. However, not many offer the nano SIM. If your desired operator doesn’t offer the SIM size that you need, check Amazon and ebay. There are plenty of resellers that are selling pre-cut SIM to the size you desire for cheap (some even sell them for cheaper than buying the SIM straight from the operator). Of course, there are sellers using this to gouge you, especially if you are looking for a nano SIM. Just be smart and don’t spend more than what you would spend for buying the SIM directly with the operator. You can also buy a SIM cutter and do it yourself, but considering there are some sellers selling SIMs for a few dollars or even less, it’s probably cheaper and easier to just buy a pre-cut one. If you decided to stick with the main carriers, aka AT&T or T-Mobile, and if your existing SIM is not micro/nano, just go to the respective corporate stores and ask them for a new micro/nano SIM. They should be able to give it to you for free.

Okay, you have an unlocked iPhone, and you rather stick with AT&T. Then refer to my second post on the selection of AT&T MVNOs. There is a catch though. Unlike normal phones or Android, Apple put the control of certain carrier settings to the carrier. This setting is usually known as the APN setting, a setting for access point names that will tell your phone how it would connect to the network for data and MMS. Normally, this setting is accessible by the user. It’s been the case on cellphones for ages, even on Android. But not on iPhones. AT&T, being AT&T, chose to lock out this setting from users as they “know better” than the users. Unfortunately, this restriction extends to the AT&T MVNOs as Apple thinks you are on AT&T. Meaning if you put in a SIM from those AT&T MVNOs into your unlocked iPhone, even the one purchased overseas or straight from Apple, options like APN settings and portable hotspot will be unavailable. So right off the gate, your iPhone won’t be able to obtain data connectivity nor MMS.

There are workarounds. First one is through a website called unlockit.co.nz. You have to have internet connectivity via wifi on your iPhone first. Simply go to that website via Safari and it will give you options to create a custom APN based on your operator. The site will install the setting on your iPhone and you will have data connectivity. Unfortunately, no MMS.

The second workaround will enable MMS, but it’s much trickier to perform. It’s called a SIM swap method. DISCLAIMER: *Since I’m on Simple Mobile now, I have not tested this method again since Simple Mobile doesn’t lock out the APN setting screen. However, I did try this method on Straight Talk’s AT&T SIM and iOS6, and it worked, both data and MMS.* First, you have to have a T-Mobile SIM (or any of its MVNOs), since T-Mobile, unlike AT&T, doesn’t lock out the APN setting option in iPhone. You will also need to write down the APN information of your provider of choice (most provide it on their website). Basically you will put the T-Mobile SIM first, turn-on your phone, open an app, go back home and then go to Settings and the Cellular sub menu, and Cellular data network setting. These options are locked out when you use AT&T or its MVNO’s SIM. While you are on that screen, use the multitasking feature to switch to the app you first opened. Then open the SIM slot without turning off the phone and put in the AT&T MVNO SIM. Use the multitasking app switcher to go back to Settings and you will find that you are still on that APN setting screen that would normally be inaccessible. Type in the information, and make sure they are correct as this menu will be inaccessible once you go out and you would have to do it all over again. Note that you will be able to enter all information, including settings for MMS. Once you are done, get out of the screen and reboot your phone. The settings will remain even if you turn off your iPhone and remove the SIM as long as the same SIM is inserted again before you turn it on, but it will be reset if you switch to a different SIM or update iOS. So you have to do this everytime Apple updates iOS. Annoying, but blame it on AT&T. Note that you will never get ability to do portable hotspot/tethering unless you jailbreak.

In general, AT&T MVNOs will provide better coverage than T-Mobile’s. However, speed wise, it’s AT&T. Depending on your area, AT&T connectivity is just poor, and easily overwhelmed when there is a lot of people in the area (eg. an event).

Now, let’s move on with T-Mobile. Let’s say you find that T-Mobile has refarmed the 1900 spectrum for 3G in your area. This allows you to safely pick any of its MVNOs as I have stated on my third post. Even better, T-Mobile doesn’t lock out the APN and MMS settings so you can easily enter the necessary information without having to do any workarounds. Even the portable hotspot/tethering menu is available. Of course, the catch is that you are depending on that 1900 spectrum as the iPhone doesn’t support AWS, which is T-Mobile’s main 3G frequency, so you may still get EDGE here and there. Still, I consider the savings in my pocket is worth it as I picked Simple Mobile.

What if you are not sure. You see T-Mobile has refarmed the 1900 spectrum in your area, but you don’t want to commit to switching. Well, this is the beauty of prepaid/MVNOs, no contract required. Don’t cancel your current plan/carrier yet though. Best bet is to buy T-Mobile’s SIM online for 99 cents, sign up online for their $30 plan that gives you 5GB of data. Note that you will not be able to get this plan at T-Mobile physical stores. It’s only available at Walmart and online. Then you have 1 month to test the coverage, data speed and connectivity on your preferred locations. 5GB should give you a ton of room to do many things. After you are convinced, then pick your desired operator at the price/feature you want.

And that’s about it. Enjoy your iPhone without paying an arm and a leg.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 25, 2013 in apple, tips

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,