Showing posts with label Android. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Android. Show all posts

Video Preview Top 5 Smartphones For Spring 2013

With so many questions day by day about viewers still considering a Galaxy S 4 or an HTC One, we know the ropes are complicated this spring if you’re close to being eligible for a phone-swap. 2013 has shown just how great technology can evolve in mobile, and there’s a lot to chose from.
Watch today’s Top 5 as we talk about our top picks for your next smartphone during Spring 2013. It’s been a very innovative year for some companies, but a very slow one for others. This list was crafted as a consensus between all of our Pocketnow Staff, so hopefully you’ll get a perspective as to what device we’re all getting this Spring along with you. All devices on the list have their pros and cons, so make sure you share your thoughts and comments down bellow.
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Facebook Event On Android

We all remember HTC’s 2011 efforts with the F-button on the Salsa and the ChaCha but those phones, while mid-range Android devices back in the day, were mostly disappointing in what they tried to achieve. According to recent rumors HTC and Facebook are at it again, teaming up once more, this time for a “real” Facebook phone.

“Come see our new home on Android” says the press invite above and we’re pretty certain it will be more than the two aforementioned devices. The event happens next week on April 4 in California and we’re pretty excited, not because the world needs another mid-range Android device, but because it is said that there will be many interesting and exclusive features and modifications to the experience. We’ll keep you posted and up-to date with everything happening the way you’ve gotten used to our coverage by now.

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Are the Galaxy S 4′s Software Features a Gimmick?

Software, for the time being, is the biggest differentiation between theGalaxy S III and Galaxy S 4 by Samsung.
Sure, as it’s been explained countless times now, the specifications aredifferent. The S4 has a larger, much more dense display, a faster processor (on both models) with more cores, the battery has 500 more milliamp-hours and the camera is a 13-megapixel sensor, versus 8-megapixels in the older model.
But as I explained earlier today, the real world performance advantages between the Galaxy III and Galaxy S 4 will ultimately be negligible. The only truly significant upgrade is in its display, as the million extra pixels should counteract the graininess of the PenTile subpixel arrangement on the less dense display.
As all these specification bumps become less important (or less significant), software and design differentiation are key. And while Samsung may not have put a lot of effort in a totally new design, is has software engineers innovating new and unique features left and right.
Samsung unveiled just shy of two dozen new software features in the Galaxy S 4 yesterday evening. All were software features that aim to drastically change the way you interact with your smartphone, to simplify your life and make your phone a “life companion”. Air Gesture, for example, allows users to control their device without ever touching it. A swipe with your hand can scroll through content on the device or even answer a call. AirVIew works just as it does on the Galaxy Note II with the S Pen – hover the S Pen over the display to preview content. But on the S4, which is not compatible with the S Pen, Air View works by hovering a finger over the display.
Smart Scroll and Smart Pause work similarly to Smart Stay and Smart Rotate in that they track eye movement to operate differently. With Smart Stay, the screen stays on as long as you’re looking at it and reading; Smart Rotate keeps the device orientation consistent with your face; Smart Scroll scrolls content based on your eye movement; and Smart Pause pauses video when you look away from the device.
S Health turns your phone into a fitness-aware device what uses various sensors to track your exercises and sync up with other fitness peripherals.
There were several camera features introduced, as well. Dual Camera allows the front and rear shooters to work simultaneously, in videos and in stills, allowing the camera holder to be included in the activities. Sounds & Shot allows you to annotate pictures and videos with short audio clips. Drama Shot is basically Burst Mode on steroids, allowing the camera to take over 100 stills in four seconds, and the end product can display multiple shots in a single frame. And Eraser lets you delete moving objects from the background of an image.
S Translator, similar to Google Translate, offers speech-to-text and text-to-speech translation.
And these are only the most notable features. Samsung Knox, Group Play, Adapt Display, Story Album and more have also been added to the mix.
So what do we make of all this? Samsung’s big gambit is clearly adding a large helping of software features in lieu of any jaw-dropping specifications or a major design refresh. And, honestly, we’re fine with that. Some of us aren’t terribly thrilled with the rehashed design. But software differentiation is great … so long as the features are noteworthy, useful and original.
Many of the features introduced by Samsung last night weren’t entirely new. Dual camera functionality was announced on the LG Optimus G Pro just days ago. Eraser is a feature coined from the Scalado (now part of NokiaRemove technology, as debuted in several BlackBerry 10 previews last year. (For the record, it could simply be licensed.) And Samsung Knox is not unlike BlackBerry Balance.
That aside, how many of the features introduced last night are actually useful? How many times will anyone actually use these features?
Looking back on my time with the Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III, I can honestly say I have only ever used the features a time or two. Outside of general testing and showing off to friends and family, I have never enabled them and used them. Smart Stay fixes a problem I’ve never really had – I learned a long time ago to bump my screen timeout to a few minutes and just hit the power button when I’m done.
The only features I have used consistently are Popup Browser and Multi-Window. But I have yet to see a compelling feature from the Galaxy S 4 and new version of TouchWiz that I can see myself using more than once.
It’s hard to deny that eye-tracking features aren’t cool. Smart Scroll and Smart Pause, Smart Stay and Smart Rotate are all innovative. But how hard is it to scroll with your finger? And how accurate is it? What will keep it from scrolling when I just want to look at the bottom of the display? And I’ve never thought, “Man, I wish this video would pause itself when I look away.” Not once, and I still don’t see the appeal.
Air View was kind of nice on the Note II, though I rarely used it. It makes sense with the S Pen. But hovering your finger seems a bit strange. What does that accomplish that a long-press or gesture couldn’t? Dual Camera is probably the only feature I can see any true appeal in, yet I can’t figure out when or why I, personally, would ever want to use it.
Point being, Samsung loaded its phone down with a bevy of new software features, features that will eventually trickle down to other devices. I hate to be such a naysayer, but not a single one of the newly introduced features is anything that remotely moves me. They’re all a bit gimmicky – features that might raise a brow, but also features that few will ever use in normal usage.
What say you, folks? Are any of the features introduced yesterday evening of interest to you? Or do they all seem to solve problems you have never had? Does it seem as if Samsung is grasping at straws to innovate software?

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A Week On The Dark Side: A webOS User Reviews ICS on the TouchPad

Last week, I showed you how to install the CyanogenMod9-Alpha 0.6 build of Android Ice Cream Sandwich on the HP TouchPad. Seven days worth of using Google's software on the ill-fated tablet have left me with a few observations to share. As a recovering webOS die-hard who's carried the TouchPad since launch day, the experience was equal parts surreal and exciting, with one or two dollops of frustration and fear thrown in. 

If you're a fellow webOS expat, or if you'd just like to see what the CM9 experience is like for someone more used to flipping cards than tinkering with widgets, check out the video below. 

UPDATE: CM9 Alpha 2 has since been released for the TouchPad, which may fix some of the bugs I report on in the video below. 
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CyanogenMod 9 To Offer Customizable Levels of Root Access

Android users, maybe more so than any other group of smartphone owners, are used to making plenty of security-related decisions regarding their phones. While you've got the jailbreak crowd with iOS, and both the legit unlockers and full-on custom ROM guys with Windows Phone, neither platform puts so many security decisions in the hands of its end-users as Android does. When we're talking about custom ROMs, there can be even more security-critical options directly under the user's control. Probably the most common question faced by Android users, starting to stretch their wings out into the world of more powerful apps, is whether or not they should root their devices. There are good arguments on both sides of the issue, but not all users get a choice; some custom ROMs make the assumption that users will want root access and don't make it easy to give it up. The CyanogenMod team would like to try doing things a little differently, and is planing on offering new customizable root options to give you even more control over how you secure your phone. 

Previously, CyanogenMod releases gave you full superuser access. If you don't really find yourself using apps that need it, it might be nice to be able to turn it off. That's why CyanogenMod 9 will let you choose from four levels of root. 

Besides disabled everywhere and enabled everywhere, CM9 will include two custom options. You'll be able to grant root to apps without the Android Debug Bridge getting it, or you can give ADB root while keeping apps locked-down. Sounds like a pretty graceful solution to us.  
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Box Ups Free Cloud Storage to 50GB for Android Users

Cloud storage provider Box normally hooks users of its unpaid accounts up with a free 5GB. For a lot of users, that much will be plenty, but for those of you with some heftier storage needs, we've seen a couple promotions so far that gave owners of certain phones a big bump in how much free space they're allotted. While you could have gamed the system by having your handset misreport its manufacturer, today there's a far more legitimate way to get your hands on that same kind of storage space; along with releasing an update to its app, Box has announced that Android users who log-in between now and March 23 will see their Box accounts permanently upgraded to 50GB. 

The big news here is clearly the order of magnitude increase in free storage capacity, but the Box app itself gets a few tweaks, too. There's increased language support, the ability to move the app to your microSD card to save space, and a new comment system. You'll now be able to upload files from your phone in batches, as well as invite other users to collaborate with you on a file. 

Box 1.6.0 is available in the Android Market now. We haven't heard of any plans for Box to run a similar promotion for iOS users. 
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Major Facebook Update About to Hit Android

Yesterday we heard some rumors aboutforthcoming changes to Facebook's app for Android devices. Today, the site has announced the new version, with an updated user interface and enhanced photo support. 

While the app's not in the Android market just yet, according to Facebook it should be there quite soon. The company's statement hasn't confirmed everything we'd heard about these potential changes, like the possibility of an external app for doing check-ins, but those absent details should reveal themselves once the app hits the Market

The big change with this release is in menu structure and organization. If you were ever frustrated by how clumsy navigation through the existing app felt, the new menu bar may this updated app's saving grace. Access to all the major areas of the app is available through this left-hand menu bar. Reorganization also visits the app's notification system, moving those alerts and new messages up to the top of the screen. 

An overhaul to the app's photo features results in what's supposed to be a much faster, quicker-to-navigate experience. Enhancements to photo controls should also make tagging, editing, and checking out comments more convenient than ever. 

Look for the new Facebook for Android to arrive at the Android Market any moment now; hopefully we'll see it by the end of the day. 
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Android Application Weekly 28 Oct 2011

In this episode of the Android Application Weekly we demonstrate some apps that will keep you entertained, have a Siri clone on your Android, and find recipes based upon collections and searches. To download these directly to your Android smartphone or tablet just take a picture of the QR-Code using Google Goggles or any other QR-Code scanner or click on the app title link to be taken directly to the Android Market. 

Iris – A free application 


The iPhone 4S has Siri but Google has been using voice services for years. Iris (Siri spelled backwards) is an Android voice assistant that will help you find exactly what you are looking for. Ask Iris questions and it will begin searching the web. Send text messages, make voice calls, and much more. 


Coupon Cloud – A free application 


Saving money is always appealing, and with Coupon Cloud you will be able to save some cash at your favorite business. This app displays coupons that may be printed and brought into the business. Many coupons offer buy one get one deals and free items at restaurants. 

Coupon Cloud

Cool Tool – A free application 


Cool Tool is a great app for anyone that wants to keep track of their data speeds, CPU usage, memory, and much more. This app displays a panel that shows exactly what you want to know about your Android’s performance. Change the size of the panel and move it to anywhere on the screen. 

Cool Tool

Spider Jack – A lite and $0.99 full version 


Spider Jack is a really fun puzzle adventure game. The object of the game is to maneuver Jack from one attachment point to the next while collecting stars. Once all of the stars are collected, get Jack to the bug so he can feast and move onto the next level. 

Spider Jack

Taste Of Home – A free application 


Taste Of Home is a popular magazine and now gives you the same great recipes on your Android smartphone. There are many featured categories to choose from to help you find that perfect dish. Search through the database, read reviews, and get detailed instructions on how to prepare the recipe. Share the recipes through Facebook and add them to your favorites 

Taste Of Home

Live Wallpaper – Pimp Droid Halloween A lite and $1.65 full version 
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Android Market Getting Music According to Alleged Landing Page?

According to the screen above, which Engadget didn't manage to recreate and neither did we, Android Market will soon get music. If you can point your browser on your phone to Google Musicand get the same landing page, let us know. 

As you can see, point number two talks about Music on Android Market. You will reportedly be able to "shop millions of songs in the Android Market" which will be awesome if you are on the Google-platform, especially with hints of free tracks coming. According to reports, traces around the web pointing towards that page, including links, are now dead but if you manage to somehow access the information, let us know in the comments below. 
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