23/04/2014 - Meet the One, OnePlus' $299 Nexus killer
Rarely do we see a tech startup spending five months actively hyping up an unborn product; and when we do, most of them end up being vaporware. Luckily, that's not the case with OnePlus. Today, the Shenzhen-based company has finally unveiled its first smartphone, the One (not to be confused with the HTC One). While the device's impressive specs have already been listed in detail beforehand, OnePlus had remained tight-lipped about the actual prices (unsubsidized) until today: $299/€269 for the 16GB model, and $349/€299 for the 64GB flavor; both due mid to late May. This aggressive pricing is obviously going right after the Nexus 5 ($349 for 16GB, $399 for 32GB), but is this too good to be true? %Gallery-slideshow189680% %Gallery-slideshow189784%
23/04/2014 - HTC's Droid DNA gets a bite of KitKat on April 24th
Don't worry, Droid DNA fans -- HTC may have given the One series its first batch of Android 4.4 KitKat upgrades, but it still has plenty of love for Verizon's late 2012 flagship. The phone maker's Mo Versi now expects the DNA to get an over-the-air update to Google's newer OS (and the Sense 5.5 interface) starting on April 24th. That's weeks later than what HTC anticipated back in the fall, but it's still proof that the company is committed to supporting more than just its latest and greatest devices.
Source: Mo Versi (Twitter)
LG's official site has just spilled a few extra tidbits about the G Watch, which is due out in the summer and will be based on Google's Android Wear platform. For a start, there'll be two color options: "stealth black" or "champagne gold," both with plain rubbery straps and slab-like faces that are meant to look "timeless." Fortunately, though, the G Watch will have the time written all over it during actual use, because LG is promising that the screen will never go to sleep -- unlike Samsung's Gear 2, where you have to wake up the display with a movement of your arm. One last important detail is a confirmation that the device will be waterproof and dustproof -- something that, strangely, still can't be taken for granted in the smartwatch market.
When it comes to offering a vast selection of Android smartphones on the cheap, BLU Products is a company that quickly comes to mind. And now we can add another one to its budget-friendly lineup: the Blu Studio 6.0 HD. As its moniker would imply, this is a 6-inch handset, with a 1,280, x 720 display, a quad-core, 1.3GHz chip (Mediatek MT6582, if you're so inclined) and a decent 3,000mAh battery inside. Perhaps what's most interesting here, however, is that the 6.0 HD will be available unlocked for a mere $250, which is a great price if you're looking for a phone this size and not interested in any carrier contracts.
Domino's has already made it pretty easy to order your favorite pizza using your smartphone, but today things are getting even simpler for US Android device owners. Today the company confirmed that it's added Google Wallet to the list of supported payment types in its Android app, allowing you to complete an order using the same details you'd typically download apps or rent movies with. If app-based ordering wasn't already affecting your impulse spending, dispatching a deep dish with even fewer screen presses might be a blessing or a curse.
Source: Domino's Pizza (Google Play)
We told you to put on your disappointment pants for the Galaxy Gear 2, but for the Rufus Cuff we suggest rolling up your absurdity sleeves. Seriously, given its three-inch screen you might just have to. This wearable boasts a built-in mic, a camera, a speaker, web browser, voice control, GPS and full access to the Google Play store -- if the Cuff sounds like a smartphone that straps to your wrist, well, that's basically what it is. It connects to your Android or iPhone via Bluetooth for mobile data, making calls and sending texts, but it's running a full version of Google's mobile OS and can hook on to WiFi if you're in a cellular dead-zone or if your phone's battery runs out.
While the gizmo doesn't exactly look practical (we're pretty sure that it won't play nice with the cuffs of a slim-cut oxford), as of this writing it's has raised over $150,000 of its $200,000 IndieGoGo goal, with a handful of days to go. If you dig the idea of strapping one of these monstrosities on your wrist, all it takes is a $249 pledge.
Former Oppo exec Pete Lau announced his plans to make "the perfect smartphone" a few months ago, and now the OnePlus One is almost here. Its launch is scheduled for April 23rd, but Android Authority points out these pictures posted on a forum that claim to show press renders of the device itself and "StyleSwap" covers that will let owners customize its looks. Not-so-shockingly, what we're seeing looks a lot like the Oppo Find 5, although the only question left is whether they're authentic or just a fan's creation. We've already gotten a sneak peek at the CyanogenMod software it will run, and we know how much it costs, but official word on everything else will have to wait until Wednesday.
Via: Engadget Chinese
Odds are that you weren't riveted by Beats Music when it first arrived, but the streaming service has just delivered a pair of big updates that may give you a good excuse to tune in. For the iOS app, the biggest improvement is visible when you're signing up -- you can now subscribe from within the software rather than heading to the web. The move makes it that much easier to keep the music flowing after your trial is over, and may just help Beats grow its fledgling customer base.
It's been nearly three years since I reviewed the Xperia Neo, manufactured by what was then Sony Ericsson. The Neo represented just the second generation of Xperia phones running on Android, from a period when Sony was finding its feet in the world of mobile and still chucking out plenty of duds (I'm looking at you, Tablet P). Fast-forward to today and things have changed dramatically under Kaz Hirai's stewardship. I'll tell you this right now: The Z2 is an easy phone to recommend, at least for those living in countries where it'll definitely be available (a list that includes the UK and Canada, but not yet the US). The only real caveat is the handset's huge, monolithic construction (a far cry from puny, 126-gram Neo). As you'll see, if you can get past its size, the Z2 addresses some of the most serious gripes we had with its predecessors, the Xperia Z and Z1, particularly with respect to its LCD display. In fact, in some respects, it's far ahead of any other Android phone currently on the market.%Gallery-slideshow189414%
Slingbox has pushed out a handful of updates for SlingPlayer on iOS and Android, adding new features on both platforms. On the Android side, Slingbox joined forces with sporting-app Thuuz. Now if you have to skip watching the Giants game for work, SlingPlayer will let you know Tim Lincecum is using his secret mustache powers to pitch a no-hitter . If you can sneak away from your meeting for a "bathroom break," a link within the app will instantly tune you into the hair-raising action. The sports app won't be integrated into the iPhone version of SlingPlayer until this summer, but iOS users can still download it on its own to try out now.
While we'd seen rumblings that it was in beta testing, Google's Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android made its official debut today. This means that those who fancy Mountain View's mobile OS can take a gander at files that reside on a Windows or Mac machine that's safely docked in the office. The Remote Desktop app has been available on the desktop for quite some time, and now the same access is available through Chrome on Android smartphones and tablets. For those who prefer Apple's devices, an iOS version of the software should be on the way soon.
While Google has continued to toss new features into the camera app shipped on its Nexus devices, many Android phones replace it something else. But just as we revealed a few weeks ago, now it's available in the Play Store, ready to run on any phone or tablet using Android 4.4 KitKat. Beyond bits like Photo Sphere that we've seen before, Google is filling in the blanks on its new "Lens Blur" option. Meant to emphasize the subject while blurring the background for an impressive depth of field effect, it uses algorithms to simulate the large camera lens and aperture your phone or tablet doesn't actually have. Taking the photo requires an upward sweep to capture multiple images, used to estimate the depth of objects for a 3D map that lets the software re-render the photo later and blur specific items based on where it thinks they are. Google's Research Blog has more details on how it's all done, including the Lytro-like ability to change which object is in focus after you take the shot.
It's just seven days until OnePlus launches its first Android flagship, but that hasn't stopped the company drip-feeding news about the device. Surprisingly, the outfit promises that the unit will cost under £290 in the UK, €350 in Europe and $3,000 HKD in Hong Kong -- which we're taking to mean £289, €349 and $2,999, respectively. By way of comparison, that's £10 less than you'd pay for a Nexus 5 and £20 more than you'd need for a Lumia 1320. Now, given that the handset is shipping with a Snapdragon 801, 5.5-inch 1080p display and a 3,100mAh battery, what is OnePlus likely to scrimp on in order to get it down to that price? Why not dive in over at the forums and speculate with us.
The BBC has allowed Android users to download programmes since September last year, but that functionality was only extended to 11 of the most popular Android devices at the time. While its slowly expanded support over the past seven months, the Beeb today welcomed the majority of Android iPlayer users to the party, updating the app to allow downloads on devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and above. To put it in perspective: 96 percent of current BBC iPlayer users now have a smartphone or tablet capable of storing programmes for offline playback.
Source: BBC Internet Blog
The Google I/O developer conference is just over two months away, but it's never too early to start opining about what the software giant is planning to show. Try not to be overwhelmed with excitement, kids: according to documents leaked by Android Police (seemingly confirmed by Google's own Partners page) new icons are coming. The new style is apparently referred to as Moonshine, and this flatter look is likely just a portion of an upcoming redesign. We're still awaiting details on what else may change, but for now, all we can do is look forward to new icons for Play Music, Books, Movies, and Games; as well as Google+, Calendar, People, Chrome, YouTube, Maps, Gmail, Hangouts, Camera, and the Play Store. Each of the icons appears to be more in line with what Google uses on the web. So is this just a foreshadowing that all of Android's design guidelines will see a similar overhaul? Hang tight -- we've got another couple months before we find out. In the meantime, feast upon a few more icons (the new ones are on the right).
Source: Android Police
While the BBC's Vidiprinter dutifully does its job providing us with all of the goals around the grounds, many have ditched TV and now use a smartphone to check the latest football results. The BBC Sport app has done a stellar job at providing live match updates, but a new update is about to make things a little more efficient. Using the same technology that pushes breaking news from BBC News, the Sport app now allows iOS and Android users to receive alerts for more than 150 domestic teams. Right now, the app will deliver notifications at kick-off, when a goal is scored, at half-time and the final score, but the BBC says it'll add more in the future. To take advantage of the new alerts, make sure you have the very latest version of the iOS or Android app, then hit the "My Alerts" link in the app menu to select your favourite team.
Via: BBC Internet Blog
Ahead of Apple revealing its first smartphone, Google's plans for Android back in 2006 involved physical keys for control and no touchscreen input support. Revealed in court documents from the ensuing Apple-Samsung legal fray, the early specification says that "the product [Android] was designed with the presence of discrete physical buttons as an assumption. However, there is nothing fundamental in the product's architecture that prevents the support of touchscreen in the future." (The above render is from Google's initial SDK, but by then, touchscreen integration was now part of the official spec.)
In this 2006 documentation, many of the Android staples (both in software and hardware) get a mention, including removable storage, third-party application support, widgets, notifications and all those Google services. Between the announcement of the iPhone and finalizing Android's software requirements, touchscreen input was not only supported -- multi-input touch was required, and our phones were never the same again.
When Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S5 and a trio of Gear smartwatches, the company made a big to-do about how it listens to its customers. We know, we know: Every company's supposed to be doing that. But remember, this is Samsung we're talking about. It dominates the Android market by such a wide margin that it makes rivals like LG and HTC look like quaint startups. Put it another way: Samsung could release a phone with no improvements, and it'd still sell millions.
At least, that's how it used to be. The smartphone market has seen a downturn of late and even mighty Samsung has been affected. Sales are down, and the manufacturer must now make phones that give people what they actually want (shocker, we know). So what can we expect from a humbled Samsung? A durable phone that brings a toned-down TouchWiz UI, a better camera, longer battery life, improved performance, a fingerprint scanner and enhanced health tracking. I received an unlocked review unit from GSM Nation, which was the first outlet to start shipping the phone in the US with AT&T- and T-Mobile-compatible LTE. Now that I've been testing it for a few days, let's see if the Galaxy S5 lives up to all those promises. %Gallery-slideshow187627%
Via: Android Central
You no longer have to engage in some hidden setting gymnastics just to send web videos from Chrome for Android to your Chromecast. Google has rolled out a Chrome 35 beta that lets you deliver "some" clips from the browser to a Chromecast-equipped TV. The company hasn't said just which videos are compatible, but it notes that YouTube support is rough around the edges. Even if your favorite media site is broken, you can check out a few other notable upgrades: Chrome now does full-screen videos with both HTML5 controls and subtitles, and it boasts improved support for multi-window devices. Head over to Google Play to grab the update if you're a regular web movie watcher.
Oppo has a reputation for clever smartphones, but there's a good reason why you rarely see its devices in the US: it hasn't had local LTE data until the (currently unreleased) Find 7, and that's not exactly cheap. Imagine our surprise when we found a version of the R1 with US-capable LTE, fresh from FCC approval. The high-style, low-cost phone can now handle 4G data on T-Mobile and, to a limited extent, AT&T. It should also run quickly on Canadian providers.
Got an Android device with access to Google's Play Store? Congratulations: It's about to become even more resistant to malware, and you'll barely have to lift a finger. You see, for around two years now, the folks in Mountain View have been able to throw up red flags when users try to install apps of questionable provenance on their devices. Now they're taking it a step further -- Google will soon be able to check up on your apps after you've already installed them.
Why? Well, it's possible that you downloaded some sketchy apps before Google's verification feature went live in 2012. A bad app that previously managed to fly under the radar could also be rooted out as Google continues to learn more about mobile malware. Those situations may seem a mite outlandish, and Android Security Engineer Rich Cannings admits that most people won't ever see one of those notifications. Still, there's no denying this is a solid tool to have in the ol' arsenal, and ComputerWorld previously reported that it'll come in the form of an update to Google's Play Services; so devices running Android versions as old as 2.3 should get that added security without a headache.
Filed under: Mobile
Source: Official Android Blog
An easily expandable phone isn't always an easily repairable phone. If you need proof, take a look at iFixit's newly completed teardown of the Galaxy S5. While Samsung's latest flagship gets some kudos for its removable battery and microSD slot, it's considerably tougher to take apart than its GS4 predecessor. You now have to remove the display if you want to replace any of the internals, and the removal process is especially tricky; part replacements are only easy once you're past this daunting hurdle. There aren't any surprises under the hood, although it's worth noting that Samsung is using a Maxim heart rate sensor chip and a Synaptics fingerprint reader. From all indications, the GS5 is still easier to fix than some phones we know -- it's just not the walk in the park that we saw last year.
See those images above? Those could become a familiar sight in the future if you religiously use Google's Calendar app for Android. This crisper, cleaner Google Calendar was recently spotted by Geek.com (which also spilled the deets on a test version of Gmail) on a phone loaded with unreleased features. If you notice, the new interface gets rid of the app's busy grids and lines, relying instead on blocks of color to distinguish one entry from the other.
What's more intriguing, however, is a new feature called daily agenda, which automatically emails you the day's full schedule. Since the updated calendar will also come with Google+ integration, or so the source claims, daily agenda emails will also include birthdays, giving you no excuse to forget anybody's special day. Other than these changes, you'll also reportedly see a parallax scrolling effect while flipping through months. Of course, the final product could be wildly different from what we're seeing here. We might have to wait a few more months to find out, though -- Geek.com believes Google will launch the redesigned calendar at the I/O conference in June.
Sure, it's easy to plan out trips to visit your friends, but Momondo believes it can add a bit of fun to that process. The travel search engine's app now features something called "friend compass" that shows your friends' locations all over the world while you spin around. Since Momondo's service shows the cheapest flights and hotels you can book, each friend that appears on the compass comes with info on the most affordable flight available -- and yes, you can book one from within the app. If that travel itch has gotten so bad, you can also use the compass to find out which friend lives in the coldest or the hottest locations, the nearest or the farthest places and the ones who'll cost you most and and least money to visit. The friend compass works using Facebook's API and a smartphone's GPS, so suffice it to say, it'll only only show people in your Facebook list. Bummer.
Source: McCann London