You forgot to bring it with you.

Once you realize your mistake, you’re finding it difficult to breathe. You feel anxious and upset. Your world will not be alright again until you have it safely in your hands. You feel lost, disconnected without it’s familiar, reassuring presence.

What are we talking about?

Your cell phone, of course.

You may not like to admit how accurate this is. But don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Folks are getting more and more dependent on their phones every day.

In fact, 80% of people who own a smartphone check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up. That makes sense, right? A lot could have happened in the world while you were asleep.

It’s not debatable that you need to stay connected. What is debatable is how you do it. Cell phone companies offer a few different types of plans to accommodate their customers.

One of these options is SIM only plans. Let’s take a look at what this type of cell phone plan is and the pros and cons of it.

What Are SIM Only Plans?

You may be familiar with contract cell phones plans. These usually come with a cell phone, a bundle of minutes, messaging, and data, and a monthly bill.

You may also be aware of pay-as-you-go type prepaid plans. You pay for how much you need and that’s about it. This can be a great option when you don’t use your phone often.

SIM only plans are kind of in the middle. You don’t get a phone with your plan, but you do get a bundle of minutes, messaging, and data. That way you don’t have to worry about running out like on a pay-as-you-go plan.

You usually sign a contract, but often it is much shorter. Most SIM only plans will offer contracts as short as one month and you can cancel with a month’s notice. That’s handy for those with commitment issues.

A typical cell phone contract is for two years and you face heavy fees and penalties if you want to cancel early. This is because they gave you a ‘free’ phone when you signed up for your plan.

It makes sense that they have to get their money back somehow.

SIM only plans don’t have the hefty penalties because the provider isn’t worried about getting their investment back in that case.

Now that you have an idea of what SIM only plans are, let’s look at some pros and cons. Then you can decide if it might be a good cell phone plan for you.

Pros

There’s a lot to like about SIM only plans. Let’s look at some of the pros.

Flexibility

One of the biggest benefits of SIM only plans is the flexibility they offer. You’re not locked into a long contract. That way if your plans change, so can your cell phone plan and you won’t have to sell your first-born child to do it.

This is useful in many situations. You might move to an area where a different provider offers better coverage. Your job situation could change and a different cell phone plan would better suit your new financial situation.

These plans are also great if you go on an extended international trip. You can stop paying the bill at home.

When you get to your destination country you can swap out the SIM for a local card. This is typically cheaper and you’ll get better coverage than using an international plan.

The possibilities are endless!

Costs Less

The monthly cost of SIM only plans tend to be cheaper for the same size bundles. This is because you’re not paying off that ‘free’ phone you get when you sign up for 2 years.

This isn’t always the case, though. You still have to drop money on a phone at some point.

But, if you already have a phone or find a good deal on one, this can be a great way to save on your monthly bills.

Credit Checks

Providers that offer SIM only plans often will still require a credit check. But their checks are much less extensive and you have to meet fewer requirements than if you were signing up for a 2-year contract. The risk on their side is less, so they don’t have to be as picky.

This is great for you if you don’t have a stellar credit score. Or you may simply not want to involve your credit history too much.

Don’t Have to Change Phones

You may already have a phone that you know how to use and love. But if you need to switch providers, or even renew a contract, you often have to pick a new phone to go with it.

But you may not want to give up your current phone. You know it’s quirks and you have an awesome cell phone case and other accessories for it and everything.

You can choose a SIM only plan instead. You can stick with the same phone that you already love. All you have to do is pop in a new SIM card and start paying your new (often lower) monthly rate. You can use that phone as long as you want, nobody will tell you that you have to upgrade.

Allows You to Shop Around

What if you can’t decide which company offers the best service for you? Trying out the SIM only plans of several providers is a savvy way to compare companies.

Sign up for a month with each company and see how it goes. Then, you can stick with the one that offers you the best service and coverage.

No more wondering if there’s a better deal out there. Or if another company offers better coverage in your area. Now you’ll know for certain that you have the best cell phone service you can get!

Click here for more info on what SIM only plans can offer you. This is a great tool for picking out the options that are important to you and finding a plan that fits.

Cons

There are lots of good things about SIM only plans, but it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. There are a few cons to the plans as well. Let’s look at a few.

No ‘Free’ Phones

One of the benefits of signing up for a 2-year contract is that you get a ‘free’ phone with the plan. Now, we all realize that the phone isn’t actually free. The company is making their money back by offering the plan at a higher monthly payment.

Regardless, if you don’t have the cash to drop on a new phone, this is a great way to spread out the cost. You can often afford a fancier phone using this method, and you do get something of a discount off the full price of the phone.

With the money you have left over you could buy some cool phone accessories.

SIM only plans don’t offer this convenience. You either have to already have a phone or you’ll have to buy one. If you want to get the latest one with all the best features, you’ll be paying a pretty penny for it.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some phones are ‘locked’. This means that you can’t just swap out the SIM and start your new plan. You may have to pay a fee to unlock your phone so that it is no longer tied to a specific provider.

Insurance

Many traditional contract plans will offer insurance on the phone they include with your plan. Of course, you’ll have to pay a higher monthly payment but it can give you peace of mind.

Phones are expensive and arguably a necessary part of life. It’s nice knowing that you’re covered if something happens to it.

When you buy your own phone for a SIM only plan, obviously the carrier won’t be offering any insurance.

You can find insurance through a third-party provider if you really want it. But it’s a bit more complicated and you end up with a separate monthly bill that you have to remember to pay.

Choose the Right Plan for You

There isn’t any one-size-fits-all cell phone plan. Everybody has different wants and needs when it comes to their cell phone bills.

The great thing is that providers offer a range of choices that consumers can pick from. It’s merely a matter of finding the right fit for you.

We hope this post has been helpful for you to determine if a SIM only plan would work best for you.

For more insightful information about new developments in technology be sure to keep an eye on our tech page. We’re always adding exciting new information about what’s happening in the wonderful world of technology.

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The Near Future of Artificial Intelligence (The Road to Super Intelligent Apps and Machines)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay. The AI revolution is changing lives but scaring millions. AIs are already everywhere, supporting the human mind in the pursuit to make the world better and our way of life even easier.

They’re in your phones and favorite apps, helping you stay connected and do what you do best in the shortest possible time. And they’re doing a better job than anything else could.

The opportunities are endless and uncertain. Human development cannot be stopped. The future can only be better but with lots of questions.

I am no expert in artificial intelligence. But the rise of super intelligent machine and software is upon us and I am just as curious as you are about what AI can (and will ultimately) do. The future of AI is bright but frightening.

Technology giants are cashing in on the next big thing. Mark Zuckerberg made a $2 billion bet on Oculus Rift (a virtual-reality headset) in 2014. And Facebook has over 50-person AI lab. Google wants a breakthrough in AI that could change history, hence the acquisition of the DeepMind team last year. Google’s DeepMind defeated legendary Go (an ancient Chinese board game that has long been considered one of the great challenges faced by AI) player Lee Se-dol in historic victory earlier this month. IBM has bet billions on the success of Watson, its Jeopardy question-answering supercomputer.

Meanwhile, a russian millionaire is exploring ways to upload the human brain to a computer. “The ultimate goal of my plan is to transfer someone’s personality into a completely new body,” he says.

“Within the next 30 years,” promises Dmitry Itskov, “I am going to make sure that we can all live forever.”

Elsewhere, Elon Musk wants to start selling self-driving cars next year. His company, Tesla and other car manufacturers like Honda, Nissan, Ford and more are testing semi-autonomous cars. Even Uber is seeking to buy self-driving cars.

Musk’s Tesla Motors assembly plant is powered by lots of intelligent machines. Tesla is reinventing the American auto industry. And don’t forget Musk has been sending rockets to space for sometime now. His SpaceX company has partnered with NASA to explore reusable rockets.

Richard Branson has not given up on getting millionaires to other planets as tourists after that fatal accident. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is also exploring spaceflight technology. Billionaires are now counting on super machines to do things humans could only think of as of the seventeenth century.

It’s Musk, again. He wants to build Hyperloops that will make it possible to work at the far east of the US and still be able to live at the far west. He is already considering designs.

MIT student engineers won a competition to transform Musk’s idea into a design for a Hyperloop to move pods of people at high speed.

The Hyperloop is a high-speed ground transport concept proposed by Musk to transport “pods” of 20 to 30 people through a 12-foot diameter tube at speeds of roughly 700mph (1,127km/h). How cool is that?

In other news, Google has fallen out of love with robots. Alphabet, the parent company is trying to sell Boston Dynamics, the high-profile robotics startup it bought in late 2013.

With all the hype, AI is still in infancy. There is still a lot to explore and experiment. But the rate of technological impact in recent times means that humans are closer to getting machines to do our current jobs.

Employees in big companies don’t like that. Actually, nobody is secured about their jobs. Robots are eating jobs. But most businesses value profits more than anything. And they will do everything in their power to reduce their reliance on humans to do routine jobs.

Robots are now becoming supremely capable in medical diagnosis, manufacturing, assembly, packing and packaging, surgery, weaponry, research and more. Are we headed into a jobless future?

What AI apps are already doing

You are probably using a lot of AI apps. Facebook uses AI to make sure your newsfeed is exactly what you want. Apple’s Siri uses AI to learn your voice and to translate your vocal requests into search, search them, and provide you an answer.

Google’s search function enables you to find what you’re looking for. Microsoft’s Cortana helps you get things done by letting your PC and smartphone work together.

Apps like GetYana, Tempo, Microsoft Fetch, Blippar, Bernie, Virtual Talk, Snips, Alice and a lot more are using artificial intelligence in one way or the other to help people get the right information and service they want.

What will AI apps do in the future?

Smartphones are still not very helpful at getting us information or data based on what we are already doing. We still have to touch a lot of apps and buttons to access exactly what we want. With all the power in our hands, we should be doing better.

AI apps of the near future will practically blow your mind. Based on what innovators are experimenting and exploring, your smartphone promises to be the best mobile super computer you can ever own.

You will be able to download advanced AI apps like other apps int the future. And they will possibly spread out into other devices and computers you permit them to. Even your walls, clothes, office, car, luggage. Internet of Things (IoT) will be a lot more beneficial and interesting tomorrow or the next decade.

AI apps will be able to not only read your email and write responses but they could go through them, find you what matters and what doesn’t, monitor which ones were read and report back to you.They will log on to all your apps, using your passwords, check updates, respond to them.

They will even change your passwords if they are compromised without your knowledge. And if you are worried about big brother watching you, you AI apps will handle your encryptions and keep your data private.

Reading news and summarising them for you will be basic. You won’t even have to flip through all those news apps you have installed.

Investing will solely be done by intelligent apps that will be made public. You won’t have to study the stock market and trends. You will be able to assign research tasks to machines whiles your AI apps take care of where to invest your money.

AI investment apps will know when to exactly pull out of a deal and when to cash in. They will give you reasons why those stock options are best for you based on your age and interests.  Technology-driven brokerage will operate with significantly less overhead.

AI apps will soon file your tax returns like humans. Your accountants will be very worried, but you will choose machines over them.

The combination of super intelligent computers, intelligent software, and APIs will open up new opportunities for even smarter apps that will be able to do a lot more than we will be able to imagine.

As impressive as the AI powered suggestions for replies to your emails are, they’re just not very useful yet. The likes of Siri, Google Voice, Cortana and Robin have a lot to learn.

What will you do with all the free time on your hands when machines are busy at work?

But there are downsides to a utopian world where machines and intelligent software rule and make lives better, faster and more efficient.

The big question is: why, then are humans interested in building machines whose intelligence will overwhelm us and even scare the hell out of us?

Humans evolve. That’s how we have come this far. The people of the fourteenth century will be amazed at what we have been able to accomplish today. It’s human nature to learn as much as we can and to build the best machines and tools we can.

And we will stop at nothing to do what we think it’s possible. Technologists, engineers and innovators are in business to build the most potent machines they can, not to worry about consequences, at the moment.

The basics of life like awesome cars, fast trains and aeroplanes, super computers, smartphones etc are all innovations that have changed how we work. But we want more than that. We are not impressed. Every generation expects more. We thrive on improved technology.

Are we there wet?

AI today is nowhere near understanding the human mind, yet. There is still a lot to do and comprehend. But the good and scary news is that corporate giants are investing billions of dollars into super computers, robotics, Internet of Things etc.

It’s a race of the giants. The more we learn, the more carefully, critically and intelligently we can observe what AI can do and the limits we need to overcome.

Geoffrey Hinton, an artificial intelligence (AI) expert and Google AI ‘godfather’ believes machines could match human abilities in five years.

On whether people should fear AI, he said in an interview with Macleans off the back of Google DeepMind’s victory against AlphaGo:

“Any new technology, if it’s used by evil people, bad things can happen,” said Hinton. “But that’s more a question of the politics of the technology.”

He continued: “The main thing shouldn’t be, how do we cripple this technology so it can’t be harmful, it should be, how do we improve our political system so people can’t use it for bad purposes?”

The risks of AI are real. Can we handle it?

Dr. Joscha Bach of the MIT Media Lab and Harvard Program for Evolutionary Dynamics says:

“The risks brought about by near-term AI may turn out to be the same risks that are already inherent in our society. Automation through AI will increase productivity, but won’t improve our living conditions if we don’t move away from a labor/wage based economy.

It may also speed up pollution and resource exhaustion, if we don’t manage to install meaningful regulations. Even in the long run, making AI safe for humanity may turn out to be the same as making our society safe for humanity.”

Technologists, innovators and engineers will continue to do everything they can to get machines as intelligent as possible. But no artificial mind will ever come close to the human mind. No computer will ever feel anything like we do. Software can only simulate feeling.

The human mind is no static, rational machine. Feeling and consciousness can only happen (so far as we know now) to organic beings and animals. It can’t be produced, no matter what, by mere software on a computer.

Our machines are here to serve us but will they take over our lives? Will our robots outthink us and even harm us?

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Cortana for Xbox One Finally Released: Your Personal Gaming Assistant

Lucky summers for Xbox One users as they will be getting one of the much-awaited updates from Microsoft, the Cortana is about to be rolled out.
For those who have no idea what Cortana is, well, it is a Microsoft’s virtual assistant which lets you communicate with your device like "Siri" on Apple iOS and "Google Now Assistant" for Android. You can talk to your device by saying “Hey Cortana” and you can then give all the instructions through voice.

The purpose of launching Cortana is to integrate Windows 10 and the Xbox console. Though initially the update will not be available for Windows 10 but at a later stage, you will be able to use it with Xbox app on Windows 10.

Xbox Cortana

What to Expect

So how Cortana will change your gaming experience? How can it be of any help? Is it really a much needed feature?

Cortana is referred to as the ‘personal gaming assistant’. It will assist you in gaming, of course, but this is just the beginning. Right now, you will be able to use Cortana for gaming features only but in near future, it will work with other devices and will include a whole lot of other exciting features.

Cortana lets you communicate with your console over voice. It can let you find new games, turn on the Xbox, you can start a party, and you can perform several other tasks. You can also use it to search stuff on Bing, simply give a voice instruction to search something and voila, you are done.

The good news is that there are multiple updates that will be rolled out so you will see some nice changes this summer, for example, a new game collection will be rolled out, improvements in screenshot sharing feature, some of the famous PC games will be added to your Xbox live, and much more.

This is just the beginning. Microsoft is very enthusiastic about the update and it has already announced that Cortana is not limited to gaming only, so you should expect some good new features being added in recent times.

When and Where

Microsoft will be rolling the updates in phases – not all at once, thus you have to exhibit some patience. The first update will be rolled out this summer. You will get two updates this summer and more updates will follow soon.

At this moment, the Cortana will be available to Preview testers only. No, not to all the Preview testers but only those located in the US, UK, Spain, Germany, Italy and France. If you are in one of these countries, consider yourself lucky as you will be among the first ones who will have the privilege to try the new update.

Keep your fingers crossed for the update and let’s hope that the update proves to be good for the gamers. The basic purpose behind the launch of the Cortana and these updates is to integrate Xbox One fully with Windows app (the PC). Once it is done, you will experience gaming of another level.
But that’s not going to happen right away.

For now, just sit back, relax and let Microsoft do all the hard work. Wait for the update to reach you.

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