VSCO Cam, the hugely popular photo app for iOS, is now available on Android. That means all of you rocking Google's mobile OS can get in on the photo-editing tools and simple interface that iPhone owners have been using for several years. Like that other mega-successful photography app, VSCO Cam lets you apply filters, though it includes more in-depth controls, such as the ability to favorite images and use presets. (You can purchase additional preset packs from within the app, as well.) Of course, sharing is on board, too, so you can blast your latest pics to Facebook, Google+, Instagram (yeah, really) and Twitter, among other social networks. Head to the Google Play Store to download the free app; it's compatible with Android 4.0 or later.
Samsung has yet to make an official announcement about the followup to its Galaxy S Duos. But, if the company's online store in India is any indication, it won't be too long before the second-gen dual-SIM-toting handset becomes available. According to the product page, Samsung's Galaxy S Duos 2 features a 4-inch, 800 x 480 screen, a "fast and powerful" 1.2GHz processor with 768MB RAM, 4GB of internal storage (expandable up to 64GB) and a 1,500mAh battery. The listing also notes that the Duos 2 -- said to be running Android 4.2 -- will be sold for 10,999 Indian rupees, which comes out to a little over 175 bucks in the US.
Source: Samsung India
25/11/2013 - Spotify Connect local streaming comes to Android
A couple of months ago, Spotify Connect was announced for iOS -- a feature that allows you to wirelessly control (via your home WiFi network) music playing on Connect-compatible speakers with your phone. Good news for Spotify users with Premium accounts and Android devices today, as their version of the app has now been endowed with all of Connect's powers. Of course, the number of devices currently compatible with the feature is fairly slim, as Pioneer and Bang and Olufsen are Spotify's only official partners. But, 'tis the season and there are some quality, if pricey, Connect-enabled speakers and receivers to be had -- remember, kids, Santa only brings you what you ask for.
Via: Android Police
Source: Google Play
24/11/2013 - Waze partners up with Universal Pictures to let celebrity voices give you driving directions
GPS turn-by-turn directions are staid and boring, whether they are relayed by a male or female voice. Waze wants to give us what we really want, which is, quite naturally, driving directions delivered with the gravitas only Hollywood actors can bring. To that end, the social navigation company has partnered up with Universal Pictures to deliver some cross-promotional synergy that'll have actors in forthcoming films acting as your virtual co-pilot. The first such star of the silver screen is comedian Kevin Hart (promoting the aptly titled film Ride Along), and you can get a taste of what Waze will be like with Hart telling you where to go in the video after the break.
20/11/2013 - Waze brings social GPS app to Windows Phone today
It may not have received the same amount of buzz as Instagram this morning, but social GPS app Waze is another hugely popular service that's finally reaching the Windows Phone masses today. The free app brings over several of the same features found on other platforms, such as live routing, road alerts, the cheapest gas stations and live maps.
It's interesting to see Waze -- a navigation service acquired by Google earlier this year -- now coming to Microsoft's mobile OS. This is especially noteworthy given the choppy relationship Microsoft and Google have had in relation to services like YouTube and Exchange. While we don't want to assume that more Google-owned products will be heading to the platform, this is definitely a step in the right direction and hopefully will be followed up by other official Google services.
Source: Windows Phone Store
As the ancient proverb goes: a next-gen console ain't no next-gen console without next-gen mobile apps. We can't remember who said that exactly, but it's impossible to forget what's built into the new Xbox One SmartGlass app. After all, Microsoft's been hyping everything you'll be able to do with that second screen for months now. In preparation for the One's launch later this week, the companion app has (unsurprisingly) landed first in the Windows Phone store. As you'd imagine, it's basically useless, but you can still download it, sign in and poke around the limited UI should you wish. We expect the new version to show up in the App and Play stores in due course, but perhaps this debut appearance will remind Sony that Windows Phone users like apps, too.
Source: Windows Phone store
01/10/2013 - Qualcomm joins Power Matters Alliance, will help develop hybrid wireless charging standard
Competition is really heating up in the wireless charging space. Last month, the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) shared news that Qualcomm joined its board, and now the competing Power Matters Alliance (PMA) is making a similar announcement. Qualcomm has also signed on with the PMA, and will be taking on a "senior leadership role" at the organization. The chipset manufacturer is reportedly aiding in the development of a new specification that will enable PMA devices (such as Powermat) to receive wireless power using both low-frequency induction and high-frequency resonance. If that tech is implemented, certain smartphones and other gadgets will be compatible with a wider range of wireless charging devices. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on product announcements from other members, such as AT&T, which previously committed to lighting up several devices with PMA charging by 2014.
"Too much bezel" -- how often have you seen that complaint in the comment section of new phone announces? Well, you can throw this Sharp Aquos Phone Xx (and its mini companion) in the face of that haterade brigade because 80.5 percent of its 5.2-inch front is all screen. At 70 x 132 x 9.9mm, the Xx is more compact than Sony's rival 5-inch phablet, the Xperia Z1, but its collection of top shelf specs gives it a fatter profile. The Android device, which joins Softbank's 4G LTE lineup this December, crams a 1080p display, 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 running Jelly Bean 4.2, 2,600mAh battery and a 16.3-megapixel rear camera (with an f/1.9 lens) into that squat, water-resistant frame. It also features pre-loaded translation software to make sense out of captured English text -- handy if you're, you know, Japanese. We realize this is an unfair mobile tease for those of you green-eyed monsters living in the Western world; you'll likely never see the Xx make that transcontinental trek. But it's always nice to dream.
27/09/2013 - Twitter focuses on photos in embedded tweets
Some say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, but regardless of how you do the math, it's fair to say that a good photo can say a lot more than 140 characters. With that in mind, Twitter is giving greater emphasis to photos within tweets by placing them front and center in the post, with the actual tweet serving as a simple caption below. Looking at it now, the decision seems an obvious one, but all photos were previously smaller and subservient to the short text. The visual redesign applies to both landscape and portrait photos, so regardless of how you frame your image, you can now let your shooting skills do the talking for you.
Pantech's been mustering all it's got to win folks over with its smartphones, but poor business performance has prompted Park Byeong-yeop, the firm's founder and current vice chariman, to resign. Despite Samsung's recent $50 million investment, the firm's taking additional measures to solve its financial woes, which weren't eased by disappointing smartphone sales and a $46 million operating loss in Q2 2013. The Korean manufacturer is asking approximately 800 employees -- roughly a fourth of its workforce -- to take a voluntary, unpaid leave of absence for six months. If the outfit's circumstances haven't improved by the end of that period, it plans to ask another 800 folks to swap places with those on leave. Tough times are ahead for camp Pantech, but here's hoping the fiscal belt-tightening changes the state of its coffers.
Via: Ameblo (translated)
Source: Yonhap News
Samsung Display and LG Display have let the lawsuits fly in a patent battle over LCD- and OLED-related technology, but today that is apparently all over. In separate statements to the press, Samsung said "we two should focus more on cementing our leadership in the global market by cooperation, instead of engaging in all-consuming patent disputes." For its part, LG claimed that "what's most important for both of us is upgrading our competitiveness globally." All's well that ends well we guess, and a faster rollout of new display technology is nothing we'll argue against. The only possible issue? If they work together too well to achieve global market domination.
Source: Samsung Display (Korea)
23/09/2013 - Surface and Surface Pro 2 buyers get 200GB SkyDrive storage for two years, free international Skype calls for one year
Need another reason to pick up Microsoft's latest iteration of the Surface tablet, the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2? How's 200GB of free SkyDrive storage for the first two years, plus what Microsoft's calling "the best of Skype" (free international calling and WiFi hotspot access) for the first year? Because that's exactly what you'll get when you plunk down the $450 / $900 for the new Windows tablet line later this year.
Both of Microsoft's services -- SkyDrive for cloud file saving and Skype for online phone / text / video chat -- are part of the purchase price apparently, though that comes with a limited time plan. But is it enough to entice consumers who were already burned once by the first Surface line? That's a question that only time can answer, but we sure don't mind the bonus stuff!
Update: Microsoft's official PR says the deal applies to both versions of the new Surface (RT and Pro) and we've updated our post accordingly. Additionally, that free Skype international calling works for "calling to landlines in more than 60 countries," and the Skype WiFi deal offers unlimited access for that first year.
Follow our liveblog for all of the latest from Microsoft's Surface event!
When YouTube's offline viewing feature launches in November, don't expect to find Vevo on board. According to Variety, the music video service has opted out of the functionality, which will let users download videos on Youtube mobile apps for up to 48 hours of offline playback. YouTube reportedly gave Vevo and other partners a chance to opt out of the upcoming feature, so -- while Vevo is the site's biggest content supplier -- this news is hardly scandalous. It makes sense, too; the music video provider has its own apps to promote, after all.
Filed under: Mobile
There are two ways to deliver bad news: an overlong, meandering apology or the 'pull no punches' route. Microsoft, in explaining away future Skype support for Windows Phone 7, went with option number one. You see, it's not you, it's Windows Phone 8. And besides, according to Microsoft, there aren't even really that many of you left on WP7 to merit continued updates. Please understand, this is about the future; it's about integrating Skype into every (viable) Microsoft platform and product and you, forlorn WP7 user, aren't part of that picture. Chin up, though, you can still download the app from the Windows Phone Store. Now don't say Microsoft never gave you anything. Buh bye.
Less than two weeks after Apple decided to make iWork free for new iOS devices, Google went and did us one better: it's offering its Quickoffice suite for free, to both Android and iOS users. If you recall, the apps have actually already been free to Google Apps subscribers, specifically, but now the offer applies to anyone, regardless of when they activated their device or what OS version they're using. As an added incentive, if you sign in to your Google Account from the Quickoffice app by September 26, 2013, you get 10 gigs of extra storage space for two years. And that's all there is to it. Hit up the source link for more details, if you need them, or else find the app on Google Play or the App Store.
Filed under: Mobile
10/09/2013 - PPL Connect is a virtualized smartphone that lets you make and take calls from a web browser
Sure, you've heard of virtualized computing environments before, but a start-up here at TechCrunch Disrupt called PPL Connect is a platform that virtualizes your phone's capabilities in real-time. That means you can make and receive calls and texts and access the photos and videos on your phone from any device with a web browser. It's kind of like AirDroid, only you don't need to have your phone with you or even have it turned on to make calls or receive texts once you've signed up. It's a platform agnostic solution for a fragmented mobile world.
The magic happens via a localized app on your phone and Amazon cloud service to dish out your data where you need it. That cloud component both serves as cloud storage for your data and as a back-end VoIP relay station for calls and texts. Currently, photos, videos, contacts, calls and texts are what's handled by the service, but the plan is to eventually fully replicate your phone's capabilities. For folks who are concerned about putting your digital life in the hands of PPL connect, all transmissions to and from its servers are encrypted. And, the company is currently devising a fully encrypted system whereby the data's only accessible with a single, user-owned key.
Source: PPL Connect
Armed with a fresh new logo, Yahoo's getting down to business. Today, the company unveiled its first major mobile product: a video-discovery app for iOS called Screen. The service lets users browse trending videos and swipe through channels to watch clips from The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live, in addition to Yahoo Originals programming. The company says it currently has "over 1,000 hours of comedy" on offer -- and thanks to a deal with Viacom, that includes plenty of clips from Comedy Central shows. Those using Apple's mobile OS can download the free app via the second source link below.
Via: The Next Web
We've had early previews thanks to leaks, but Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi -- aka the new home of former Google exec Hugo Barra -- just took the wraps off of a new flagship Android phone and smart TV. The MiPhone 3 is available with either a 1.8GHz Tegra 4 processor (on China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network) or Snapdragon 800 CPU (China Unicom and China Telecom, which are WCDMA and CDMA2000, respectively) that provide a 40 percent performance boost over the MI2S. It also sports a 5-inch 1080p IPS LCD built by Sharp or LG with "ultra sensitive touch" that works even when the user is wearing gloves, 2GB of RAM, 16GB for storage, a 3,050mAh battery, 13MP / 2MP camera setup and NFC. The 47-inch 3D-capable Xiaomi TV also runs the company's MIUI flavor of Android, supported by a quad-core Snapdragon 600 with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage behind an LG-built display. It also claims an "easy to use" remote with 11 buttons, and Bluetooth 4.0. There's no word yet on TV pricing, but the phone will be available for $327 for the 16GB version and $408 for the 32GB. We'll have more news from the launch event shortly, check below for a peek at the new TV.
File this one in the "Well, yeah," department. Stephen Elop may have stepped down from his CEO gig at Nokia, but Microsoft's former head of its Business Division may still harbor C-level dreams. In an interview with The Seattle Times, Redmond's soon-to-be-former CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed that Elop is in the running for his gig, stating, "Stephen will go from external [candidate] to internal." So the personable mobile exec will be keeping his name badge either way -- time will tell, of course, which washroom he ultimately gets the key for.
Source: Seattle Times
Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's Devices & Services business has more implications than you might suspect at first glance. In the wake of the deal, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is stepping down to become the Executive VP of Devices & Services ahead of an expected transition to Microsoft after the deal closes. Key executives Jo Harlow, Chris Weber, Juha Putkiranta and Timo Toikkanen are also expected to join Microsoft, while Risto Siilasmaa will assume the interim CEO position.
Whoa. Big news from the middle of the night. According to Nokia, Microsoft will purchase "substantially" all of Nokia's device and service arms as well as licensing the phone maker's patents and mapping know-how. Redmond will pay Nokia a cool 3.79 billion euros ($4.99 billion) for the business, and 1.65 billion euros ($2.18 billion) for the patent armory.
Microsoft is hoping that allying with its biggest Windows Phone manufacturer will speed up growth (and improve its smartphone market share) -- the company is already promising "increased synergies". CEO Steve Ballmer added: "It's a bold step into the future - a win-win for employees, shareholders and consumers of both companies. Bringing these great teams together will accelerate Microsoft's share and profits in phones, and strengthen the overall opportunities for both Microsoft and our partners across our entire family of devices and services."
According to the companies, 32,000 people will transfer across Microsoft, including 4,700 people in Finland and 18,300 employees directly involved in product manufacture. If you thought it was only the Windows Phone component, you'd be wrong: Microsoft will also take into ownership Nokia's Asha range of feature phones. Patent-wise, Microsoft gets 10-year non-exclusive license to its Finnish partner's library of ideas and "reciprocal rights" to use Microsoft patents within its HERE mapping services.
02/09/2013 - IFA 2013 preview: what to expect
CES 2013 was a decidedly sleepy show by most accounts, but this year's IFA is shaping up to be anything but. Devices set for a reveal are still under proverbial lock and key, but chatter, teases and leaks have painted a fairly full picture of what we can expect to see in Germany: smartwatches and wearables, Haswell hardware and phones with 4K shooters. Join us past the break to get up to speed on what Berlin might dish out this week.
We don't often think of Panasonic when it comes to smartphones, and it appears the Japanese public doesn't either. According to the Nikkei, the consumer electronics giant will step out of the smartphone business in the Land of the Rising Sun, and plans to shut down its only handset production plant in March of next year. Phone sales dropped precipitously in the recent April to June quarter, which Panasonic attributes to NTT DoCoMo's recent discounts for Sony and Samsung handhelds over its own. The Japanese carrier is said to stop carrying Panasonic handsets some time this Winter. Yet, Panasonic isn't terminating its cellular business entirely -- it'll keep certain models around for corporate and foreign markets (perhaps the P51 or the Eluga?), and it won't stop making those regular ol' feature phones. In the meantime, the Nikkei reports that Panasonic is courting potential suitors for its cellular base stations. It seems that despite the increasing popularity of smartphones, not everyone can survive the cutthroat mobile market.