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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.

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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in tips

 

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in rant, tips

 

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Picking Your Wireless Carrier part 05: Data Plans for Tablets

Part 5 on my ongoing post about picking a wireless carrier in the US. I am going to touch broadband data plans. Broadband data plans mean plans that are intended for use with data only devices, such as tablets. We are seeing more and more tablet devices equipped with cellular radio for data. Unfortunately, not many MVNOs offer specific data plans for these devices. In the US, just like phones, most cellular radio equipped Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab lineup are carrier locked, meaning you can only buy them through a carrier (the big 4), and thus you can only use that tablet with that carrier as your provider. The only unlocked Android tablet available is the Nexus 7 3G. Apple iPads, on the other hand, are unlocked. But more on that later.

After searching around, the only MVNO that I can see offering a specific data plan of this type is Simple Mobile, and it’s not cheap. $45 a month gives you 2GB data, and $25 gives you 750MB. That’s not much.

Luckily, the major four carriers are not that bad in their rates on data plans. T-Mobile, the carrier that Simple Mobile uses, offers a much better deal. $15 gives you 300MB for 7 days, $25 for 1.5GB that’s good for 1 month, $35 for 3.5GB, and $50 for 5GB. A lot better than Simple Mobile.

As for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, again, Apple’s website offers a straightforward comparison between the three. AT&T offers 250MB a month for $15, 3GB for $30, and 5GB for $50. Verizon offers 1GB for $20, 2GB for $30, and 5GB for $50, while Sprint offers 300MB for $15, 3GB for $35, and 6GB for $50. And they all are on a no-contract basis. Of course, AT&T and Verizon allow you to add your tablet into your existing data-shared plan if you are already with them for an additional fee (additional $10 per month without any additional data), but we are not going there in the first place as they already rip you off on your phone plans.

The prices are very similar and competitive with each other. I mean sure, you will not use this as your main internet as it will be prohibitively expensive due to the paltry data quota, but for occasional use, it’s not bad. Plus, you are not under a contract so you can simply sign up for the data plan, and discontinue it when you are not using it.

Now, this won’t mean much for most people as like I said, most Android tablets with cellular radio in the US are provider locked. If you want a Samsung Galaxy Tab with 3G/LTE, well, pick the carrier you love as it will be locked to that carrier. In my view, for Android, there is only one choice, the Nexus 7 3G. Not only it’s fairly inexpensive (just $300 for the 32GB with 3G model), it has penta-band HSDPA radio (thus works with both AT&T and T-Mobile’s 3G) and unlocked. No LTE, so stop reading and go to your favorite carrier if you want LTE. Google sells two kinds of the Nexus 7 3G, one with AT&T SIM, another one with T-Mobile SIM. Don’t worry, the device itself is not locked and you can use either carriers later, you just pick which SIM you want to get from Google.

The interesting device is the iPad/iPad mini with LTE. For LTE speed, you have to pick the iPad that specifically said for the carrier you want to, ie. if you want Verizon LTE, you have to pick the Verizon iPad model. Now, all iPads with cellular radio also have GSM/HSDPA radio in them, and that is unlocked. That means you can put in an AT&T SIM on your Verizon iPad, and it will connect to AT&T just fine. The catch is, no LTE, just HSDPA/3G. Still, it’s not a bad compromise, plus any iPad you buy works with any GSM carriers overseas (again, LTE being the exception. Apple gives a bit more detail on which model supports which LTE in what country).

For the Nexus 7 3G, both T-Mobile and AT&T offer prices that are neck to neck with each other. At the low end, for $15, T-Mobile gives you 300MB, but only lasts for 7 days, while AT&T gives you 250MB that lasts for 30 days. At the top end, they are the same, 5GB for $50. In the middle, T-Mobile has $25 for 1.5GB and $35 for 3.5GB while AT&T has $30 for 3GB. Very close to each other. Personally, if my area has good T-Mobile coverage, I would go with T-Mobile on the Nexus 7 3G as T-Mobile’s HSPA+ is faster than AT&T’s. However, AT&T may offer better coverage in some areas.

If you are buying an iPad with LTE, go with Verizon. Verizon’s $20 for 1GB for 30 days is hard to beat in terms of value. It is usually enough for casual browsing, and Verizon’s LTE coverage is better than AT&T and Sprint. Plus, the iPad is unlocked, so you can put in AT&T SIM for 3G access later on if you want to, or even T-Mobile’s (if T-Mobile has refarmed their 1900 band for 3G in your area).

Now, you must be wondering that there are some smartphone plans that have better prices than these. The big one is T-Mobile’s $30 a month with 5GB data. Well, T-Mobile is not stupid. I personally have tried this, putting the SIM with that plan on my Nexus 7 3G. Nada. T-Mobile blocks devices that are identified as tablets on that plan. I would think the same applies with other carriers/MVNOs too.

How about tethering? You already pay for a smartphone plan, right? Well, sure. If your phone is not restricted by your carrier, and you only use your tablet outside wifi access occasionally, you can save some money by buying wifi only tablets, and simply use your phone as a portable hotspot when needed. The downside is the inconvenience having to set up your phone all the time to do this, and you are draining both your phone’s battery life and your data quota on your existing plan. Considering the data plans I mentioned here are under a no-contract basis, personally I would rather have a cellular radio equipped tablet. Having that instant data anywhere really increases the enjoyment in using the device.

TIPS:

  • If you look at T-Mobile’s website for the mobile broadband SIM, T-Mobile sells them for $7. That’s a rip-off. Meanwhile, they are selling the SIM for the monthly 4G phone plans for 99 cents a piece. Well, guess what, you can activate that 99 cent SIM for a broadband plan, so stock up and don’t be tricked into paying $7. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • If you already activated a SIM (let’s say AT&T) on an iPad, you can use the same plan on the Nexus 7 3G, but you won’t be able to access your account via the Nexus 7’s browser nor AT&T’s website. They will say you have to do it on the iPad itself. There is a workaround, via this old AT&T’s website (note the copyright year, 2010!). You can log-in to your account and you can access it normally.

That’s all for broadband data plans. More tips and tricks in the future.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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New iPad announcement

I have not posted anything on this blog for a while because I’m too lazy, but I guess it’s time for an update because, well, the iPad 3. ๐Ÿ˜€

So, here’s my keynote run-through and impression.

1. Tim Cook rehashing the same thing about how Apple is so great in this post-PC era, how they are making a boatload of money, how great their retail stores are, and how you will buy whatever they are announcing today. (I made the last part up). I just went to their 5th Ave store in New York, and it’s quite amazing how many people were in that store, in the middle of the night. I mean really, the store even opens 24 hour. Unbelievable. Every retailers on the planet are salivating.

2. iOS is great. Sales, numbers, Siri, bla bla bla. But hey, now Siri can speak nihon-go. iOS 5.1, available today. How many Android devices got updated to 4.0? Yeah.

3. iCloud, it just works. Err… not really Tim. It’s cool, but still need a lot of work and features. Now iCloud supports movies, and iTunes has 1080p movies.

4. New Apple TV with 1080p support. “The quality is off the charts.” Meh, I can rip my blu-ray to get 1080p movies DRM free myself. Boring demo. Still $99.

5. iPad 3, or “the new iPad.” Yeah, Apple drops the numbering altogether. It will be just the iPad. Just like the Mac, no numbering anymore. Tim Cook went on and on about how people love iPads. Hearing Tim Cook talking made me sleepy. Sorry, but it’s hard for anybody to match Steve Jobs’ performance and presentation. Tim is also showing how the apps on Android tablets are inferior to the iPad version.

Amazing new iPad! It’s magical! No, Tim didn’t say magical, but might as well. Phil is doing the actual announcement, not my favorite person to do keynote either. So, what’s new on the new iPad?

-Retina display. 2048 x 1536 resolution, higher resolution than even my iMac! More than any 1080p HDTV! It’s quite amazing, 264ppi. Wait, that’s not 300dpi. Phil went on explaining why they still classify the iPad’s 264ppi as retina based on distance. Whatever.

-A5X chip, not the A6. So instead quad-core CPU, it’s still dual-core CPU but quad-core GPU. 4X Tegra 3? Holly mackerel, and Android tablets using Tegra 3 are barely coming out (Yeah Asus, where’s your Transformer Prime?). Amazing.

-iSight camera. Errr, ok, now Apple is using the iSight monicker again after changing it to Facetime on Macs? Phil says that the front facing camera is Facetime camera, and the rear facing camera is an iSight camera. Ooookay. 5MP, 1080p video with image stabilization. Sounds great, right? Yeah, considering how many people out there are using iPads to take pictures and videos in the wild, it’s going to get worse. Really, holding an iPad to take pictures in public places doesn’t make you cool.

-Voice dictation. Oh come on Apple, can’t you just put Siri on it? Voice dictation also in nihon-go.

-4G LTE + HSPA+. So real 4G and fake 4G, included. Problem is, AT&T version will be different than Verizon version since both LTE is not compatible with each other. Luckily, either of them have world-compatible 3G. Oh, and personal hotspot feature…. if your carrier supports it. Uh huh, yeah, good luck with that on US carriers.

-Still 10-hour battery life. Well, Apple put more battery on the new iPad, resulting in a bit thicker body compared to the iPad 2.

-Same pricing for all levels of storage capacities starting at $499 for the 16GB wifi. Alas, no 128GB version.

Availability? March 16th in 10 countries, including Singapore, and pretty much everywhere else a week after that. Compare that to the Asus Transformer Prime, which was released at the end of last year, yet still not available in retail today. This is why Apple is successful, and funny thing is, the competitors just don’t get it, still following their old way of slow time-to-market schedule.

6. Game and app demos. Ooohhh, shiny. Console quality games. Err, no, not with touch screen. Autodesk, selling a ton more apps on iOS than the desktop. “Amazing.” “Retina display is luscious.” Epic games, with a diablo clone.

7. Updated iWorks apps and iLife apps. The multiple instruments on multiple iPads on Garageband is pretty cool. iMovie is updated, now with trailers. iPhoto for iOS! Finally! It’s long overdue. Imo Apple should’ve just replaced the current photo app on iOS with iPhoto. Currently, it feels weird having both apps. On the Mac, there’s no “photo” app, just iPhoto. The journal feature is very nifty. A must download.

8. And finally, yet another video talking about everything that was covered.

9. Oh, and price drop of the iPad 2, 16GB wifi for $399. Yup, Android OEMs are still having problem producing enough of their stuff, now they have to compete with $399 iPad. Maybe they will finally learn a thing or two about how Apple does their business.

So, that’s it, new Apple TV and new iPad. Do I want one? Well, gotta catch’em all…

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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