iOS users had a bit of a head start in receiving access to the new Pebble app store. Thankfully, the Android crowd won't have to wait for this feature any longer, since what's known as Pebble 2.0 is, at long last, available on Google's platform. Sure, it took weeks and weeks of testing, but Pebble promises it was all for the best and expects its smartwatch owners to be delighted by the changes. Aside from the long-awaited appstore, this Pebble for Android update also features a completely redesigned interface (pretty similar to the one found on iOS), a new locker for apps and notification improvements. You've waited long enough, though -- so go on, grab the update and start decking out your very own Pebble.
Via: Droid Life
Source: Google Play
07/03/2014 - AT&T's Galaxy S5 gets FCC approval, just like you knew it would (update: T-Mobile too)
Samsung already made it clear that the Galaxy S5 would reach AT&T when it launched globally in April. Still, it's nice to know the flagship is on track for an on-time arrival, right? The 5.1-inch phone just surfaced in a fresh set of FCC documents, which show a GS5 variant with AT&T-friendly LTE bands (2, 4, 5 and 17) and support for ANT+ sensors (handy for wireless heart-rate monitors and the like). Predictably, the phone also includes GSM, GPRS, EDGE and UMTS, for when you can't manage a 4G signal. That still leaves lots of questions -- how much will it cost? How good is this thing? -- but we suppose we'll just have to wait until April 11th to find out.
Update: Sure enough, a T-Mobile version of the GS5 has also surfaced at the FCC.
Android users looking for something to fill the hole that Flappy Birds once occupied now have a less trivial time sink in the form of QuizUp. As you'd expect from a trivia app worth its salt, it comes loaded with tons of topics (over 400) to choose from, including lifestyle, TV and literature. And, since it's a social game, you can test your expertise in any of those subjects against friends and strangers. If the name QuizUp sounds familiar, it's because the app was released for iOS four months ago and became its creators' first smash hit -- it did for Icelandic studio Plain Vanilla what Angry Birds did for Rovio and Draw Something for Omgpop.
Source: Google Play
Given Google's Chrome dominance, it's easy to forget that there are other Android browsers. Opera is one of the also-rans, and it's just brought a new version with a nice round number, 20, for your consideration. It's touting WebRTC as the main hook, which let lets you do video calls straight from Opera to any recipient with another WebRTC browser. That includes Opera, Chrome or Firefox, since the latter two apps have actually supported WebRTC on Android for quite awhile. Other additions include a new UI layout that you can customize for tablets or phones, an update to the Chromium 33 core (yes, Opera now uses WebKit), search improvements and a new download manager. It still claims to use less data than other browsers thanks to its off-road function, so if you're pushing that hard carrier limit, check the source.
If the debut of LG's L-series of handsets at last month's Mobile World Congress had you hankering for a new phone, you're in luck. The 4.7-inch L90 starts rolling out this week in the CIS region (think Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia). LG has also detailed a few new specs, as well. In addition to the 1.2GHz processor, the L90 comes with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM and a 2,540mAh battery. Its cameras are rated at 1.3MP up front, and 5MP or 8MP for the rear. Pricing and domestic availability remain ambiguous for now, but the South Korean outfit promises more local info will be available closer to a domestic launch. To pass the time until then, you could always work out your own custom Knock pattern; we recommend the beat from "Around the Fur" by the Deftones for maximum cool-points.
Source: LG Newsroom
Cyanogen's Koushik Dutta has been teasing the prospect of mirroring your Android screen on Chromecast for a few weeks, and today you can finally try the feature -- if you have the right smartphone, that is. An updated version of the Mirror for Android beta includes early support for mirroring to either a Chrome browser or Chromecast, but only if you have a Nexus 5. Google's phone is the sole device with the hardware video decoder needed for this mirroring technique, Dutta says. You also have to get root-level access to the operating system with the current release, although that won't be necessary in the future. Provided you meet the app's exacting requirements, you can give mirroring a spin at the source link.
Source: Koushik Dutta (Google+)
Google Play Games just became much, much more useful for avid Android gamers. A newly released update to Google's entertainment hub lets you see all your invitations; it's now much clearer that someone wants to play. The upgrade also shows you a not-quite-live view of who's playing, and a new Find Games area (shown here) suggests titles you can try. Play Games still won't compare with advanced gaming frameworks like PlayStation Network or Xbox Live, but it's likely worth a download if your smartphone regularly doubles as a handheld console.
Via: Android Central
Source: Google Play
06/03/2014 - Evernote for Android now supports handwritten notes
No matter how great your Android keyboard is, sometimes good old handwriting is the best way to take notes in a meeting or jot down your next big idea. If carrying a notebook with you everywhere isn't your style, starting today you can create digital handwritten notebooks using Evernote's Android app. To use the feature, just tap the pen icon at the top right of any new note. A spotted canvas will appear, and you're free to write with your finger or stylus to your heart's content. There are four color and three thickness options if you're feeling creative, and audio and text files can be added to the same page to spice things up. Like everything else in Evernote, your handwritten notes are searchable, so you'll be able to find what you're looking for later on. In addition to handwriting, Evernote dropped a few other updates for Android users: an improved note editor and a faster camera. You can get everything now by downloading the latest version of the app by heading over to Google Play.
Via: The Next Web
05/03/2014 - Twitch takes game broadcasting mobile
Twitch is ready to give your Jetpack Joyride skills the audience they deserve. The outfit has just released a mobile software toolset that will let devs enable live broadcasting, capturing and archiving of your in-game exploits on Android and iOS. With its proposed features (including chat, audio capture and options for finding streams from people playing similar games), the mobile tools essentially mirror what's available on PC and consoles. Even with 10 million installs of Twitch's mobile apps, however, the question that remains is if anyone will actually want to watch you play Threes.
Those artificially inflated benchmark scores Samsung devices were getting last year? They've been patched. According to new tests run by Ars Technica, Samsung devices running Android 4.4 no longer boost CPU speeds during benchmark tests. In July, Exynos variants of the Galaxy S 4 and Note 3 were caught running their CPUs at an unsustainable max speed during benchmark programs, bolstering their total score by as much as 20 percent. Samsung suggested this was normal, claiming that varied processor frequencies were designed to provide an "optimal user experience." The firm never clearly explained if the phenomenon was a feature, fault or foul play, but it's over now: devices updated to the latest version of Android are apparently running clean.
Via: Android Police
Source: Ars Technica
Want to stream any web video from your smartphone to your Chromecast? Grab the beta release of Chrome 34 for Android. The browser includes experimental support for sending embedded clips to Google's media stick, saving you from launching a native app just to watch something on a TV. As you'd expect, there are some compatibility hiccups at this early stage. YouTube works well (surprise!), but other sites are hit and miss -- you're best off sticking to videos from major, HTML5-friendly hosts like Vimeo. If you're willing to live with some inconsistencies, though, you can try the streaming feature today.
[Image credit: WhyYouPaul, Reddit]
When surveillance agencies collect large volumes of cellular data, it's easy to understand why you'd want an extra-secure smartphone. Those devices aren't always affordable, though, which is why FreedomPop has launched the Privacy Phone for $189 contract-free. It's ultimately an old Galaxy S II, but its software boasts some strong secrecy measures -- all of its internet-based calls and messages are encrypted, and data goes through a virtual private network (VPN) that masks your identity. Don't count on total security. FreedomPop isn't using more than 128-bit encryption, and VPNs aren't always safe from prying eyes. Still, the Privacy Phone may fit the bill if you're looking for better-than-usual anonymity at a low price.
04/03/2014 - Weathered old HTC HD2 dresses up like a Nokia X
You may remember the HTC HD2 from posts such as "will it play Tekken 3?" and "wait, it runs Windows RT now?" Despite the handset's age, a stalwart community keeps it relevant by getting anything and everything to run on the developer favorite. It's only fitting, then, that the HD2 be one of the first to don Nokia's heavily skinned version of Android, other than the unreleased X family, of course. That's right: An XDA Developers forum member by the name of gilbert32 has apparently succeeded in porting some form of the Nokia X Android build onto a rather beat-up-looking HD2. We say succeeded, but while it looks the part and plays a booting sound when fired up, "everything else" is admittedly non-functional. Then again, if the goal was to show the HD2 still has legs after all this time, then mission accomplished, sir.
Source: XDA Developers
04/03/2014 - LG G Pro 2 review: new year, new Note contender
The large-screen smartphone market is now one of the most fiercely competitive in the wireless industry. But even though nearly every phone maker has produced a competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Note, only a handful of products have actually been worth considering. LG's Optimus G Pro, a 5.5-inch flagship introduced last year, was one such exception. A year later, its 5.9-inch successor picks up where the first Pro left off, adding enough extra firepower to take on the Galaxy Note 3 spec for spec. The LG G Pro 2 may very well have what it takes to stand up against its big-screen rival, but it'll have to overcome a few minor obstacles in order to succeed.%Gallery-slideshow182830%
Several years ago, technology research firm Gartner predicted Apple would maintain its hold on the tablet market until 2015. A new study from the company, however, shows Android taking a decisive lead: in 2013, it boasted 62-percent market share, compared to 36 percent for iOS. Google's mobile operating system climbed to the number one position thanks to more tablet sales overall, though Gartner also credits the proliferation of cheaper, smaller-screen slates (the Nexus 7 no doubt included) with establishing Android's newfound dominance.
The other winner, according to this study: Samsung, which grew by 336 percent in 2013 to a 19.1-percent share of the tablet market. That's still a much smaller piece of the pie than Apple's 36 percent, but among Android device makers the Korean company is still very much the king. Conversely, Microsoft has seen very modest growth; Windows 8 tablets accounted for just 2.1 percent of the market in 2013. Click through the source link for more stats.
RunKeeper has a solid track record when it comes to giving users new ways to interact with the application. It's no surprise, then, that the fitness-focused app is getting some fresh tidbits on Android. Most notably, you'll now see a training plan feature which is set to coincide with the goals you've set up within the app. This version also brings a redesigned "Me" tab, an option to keep a close eye on training schedules and the ability to view your workout history. It's a very nice update, to say the least -- and given that it's Monday, it couldn't have come at a better time to inspire your next run.
Via: Android Community
Source: Google Play
Oppo may have just stolen Nokia's camera resolution crown. The Chinese company has posted a whopping 50-megapixel (8,160 x 6,120) photo that was reportedly taken with the upcoming Find 7 smartphone. On a surface level, the image checks out -- there's a lot of detail here, including street signs that suggest Oppo took the picture in Barcelona (despite the likely fake Florida license plate). However, we wouldn't be too quick to praise the Find 7's photographic abilities just yet. Oppo is known to occasionally post bogus teasers that don't translate into shipping products, so it wouldn't be surprising if the company's new flagship relies on more modest camera technology.
Source: Sina Weibo (translated)
Windows and Android are such good pals, they're quite literally inseparable on a number of dual-boot devices. Aside from some old community-driven projects, however, the relationship between Google's mobile OS and Windows Phone hasn't blossomed to a point where they're officially comfortable sharing a smartphone. Well, they better pencil in a bonding session, because The Times of India reports local manufacturer Karbonn is set to launch the first such dual-boot handset by June. With the ink now dry on a deal with Microsoft -- presumably a WP license agreed behind closed doors at MWC -- plans are to offer a range of split-personality devices with professional and tech-savvy types in mind. Perhaps they'll run Windows Phone 8.1 right off the bat, too, given the new version's broader hardware support, and show that you needn't create mutant advocates to tempt consumers one way or another.
Source: The Times of India
Imo has long served as a chat network aggregator, putting all your conversations in one place. However, the company believes that this strategy has led to compromises that hold back its own messaging efforts. To sharpen its focus, it's dropping support for all third-party services. The firm will start turning off the lights on March 3rd, and you'll have until March 7th to download your chat history from outside platforms. Imo argues that the narrower scope will help it create the "fastest and most reliable" communication service on the planet. The company may need to act quickly on that goal if it wants to keep and grow its fan base -- we can't imagine that many users are happy with Imo losing one of its most appealing features.
Source: Imo.im Blog
Job adverts aren't most reliable way to hear about new technology, but interesting ones do crop up from time to time, and that's why our eyes are drawn to one recently posted by Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz. The ad requests the services of a software engineer who can help the German car maker implement Google's forthcoming in-car system, which is apparently called "Google Projected Mode" and which is described as a way to "seamlessly integrate" Android smartphones into a dashboard's head unit. This head unit would presumably house a bigger display that mirrors a simplified version of the Android UI -- unless the use of the word "projected" implies something more futuristic.
The ad makes no mention of how the connection is made between the phone and the dash, for example whether it's cabled, wireless or a mixture of the two. However, it does refer to media playback, messaging, calls and navigation all being handled "safely" through the vehicle's control system, which suggests this will be a fully featured alternative to Apple's "iOS in the Car." Perhaps the most revealing thing is a line at the end of job description that refers to Google Projected Mode coming to "all Mercedes-Benz vehicles in all markets worldwide." That sounds like a pretty firm commitment to the platform, even if Daimler can't claim to be a founding member of Google's new Open Automotive Alliance.
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in.]
Source: Daimler [German]
Long gone are the days of prepaid carriers being stuck with low-end smartphones. Need proof? That's easy: Sprint has announced that both Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile will carry Samsung's Galaxy S5 in the second quarter of the year, or sometime around the worldwide launch in April. Neither wireless brand is giving out prices at this stage, although it's safe to presume that the brand new, Spark-compatible flagship will carry a premium. Even so, its presence should be welcome to Boost and Virgin customers who've had to go without high-end Galaxies.
27/02/2014 - Hands-on with Samsung's vastly improved Tizen OS
Samsung's device lineup may still be heavily dominated by Android, but change is in the air. Tizen, the open-source OS it jointly develops with Intel, now powers the company's three new Gear wearables, and smartphones are coming later this year. We got the chance to play with Samsung's latest Tizen phone prototype, which runs a customized build (version 2.2.1) of the platform, allowing us to see what's changed since the last time we saw a Samsung developer handset. While there's still plenty of similarities between the prototype and what we've seen in the past, Samsung's worked to incorporate parts of its Android design language, particularly in the apps drawer, notification tray and homescreen widgets. Not only do they look better, each of the elements are more feature rich than before, offering users more control over the device and making it feel like a more complete platform. The company insists the platform isn't designed to replace Android, affirming that it forms part of its "multi-OS strategy," but given its recent wearable overhaul, we'll never say never. Check out the hands-on video below to see what a Samsung mobile future without Google could possibly look like.
Cloud storage service SugarSync has updated its Android app with quite a few nifty features. For starters, the application now allows any file to be saved to your device or SD card card -- a feature that will come in handy when you don't have a connection. You can also rename folders/files and export them to other apps, while some optimization on the tablet side will make SugarSync for Android look better on larger screens. Most importantly, perhaps, the new version uploads pictures and videos at their full resolution -- and we know how meaningful this is for some of you.
Via: Android Police
Source: Google Play
While Xiaomi's been pushing its budget Redmi Android phone into Singapore recently, it's also managed to reach a new shipment record for its mid-tier MI2 series, which includes the MI2, MI2s and MI2a. According to the company's announcement, it has now shipped over 15 million of these devices, which is a notable jump from the 9.19 million figure announced at the MI3 launch back in September. To celebrate this occasion, Xiaomi has reduced the price of the 16GB, 8-megapixel MI2s in China from CN¥1,699 (about $280) to just CN¥1,299 (about $210). The 32GB version with a 13-megapixel camera remains at CN¥1,799 ($290), which is just less than the 16GB, CN¥1,999 ($330) MI3. All of these are still very attractive prices of their specs, of course.
In response to this price drop, Meizu swiftly announced that its 16GB MX2 RE (refurbished edition) is now also priced at CN¥1,299, whereas the MX2 enhanced edition is now at CN¥1,599 ($260). It's unclear how long this bloody fight will last for, but here's hoping that these price drops will be applied outside China as well.
Via: Engadget China