Windows 10 may have breathed new life into your PC, but it didn’t do anything to juice PC sales this summer. Both Gartner and IDC estimate that computer sales dropped several points year-over-year (between 7.7 and 10.8 percent) in the third quarter, right when the new Windows arrived. That’s one of the steeper drops in recent memory, in fact. Not that it comes as a complete surprise. As the analyst firms explain, Microsoft’s fast-tracked release left many PC makers shipping existing systems with Windows 10, which weren’t going to drive demand as much as brand new models. You’re not going to buy a months-old laptop just because it’s running new software, are you? The big question is whether or not the wave of new Windows 10 PCs launching this fall will make a difference — if there’s still a sharp decline, the industry is really in trouble.
The new platform wasn’t the only factor at work, of course. The researchers blame the downturn on a combination of a stronger US dollar (which hiked PC prices in many other countries) and a transition away from old Windows 8 PCs. Some vendors fared better than others, though. As a rule, big-name brands like Apple, Dell, HP and Lenovo (the market leader) have emerged relatively unscathed — it’s the smaller, more vulnerable companies that are shedding legions of customers. Even Acer and ASUS saw sales plunge by over 10 percent. It’s too soon to say if Windows 10 will stop the bleeding, but the days of booming computer businesses appear to be long gone.
[Image credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu]
Welcome back to Android Apps Weekly!
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This week’s Android Apps Weekly is sponsored by CloudCal. Last week you may have remembered that we showed you an app called CloudTasks. Well, CloudCal is done by the same developers and the two apps actually work together well by syncing your to-do list from CloudTasks into CloudCal.
CloudCal has an awesome set of features all on its own and includes a unique month-view calendar that shows your days as clock faces so you can see how busy you are that day. It also syncs with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange along with Google Calendar. It has a unique design that includes drag-and-drop events and a slew of standard features like inviting colleagues to events and other productivity-inclined features. It’s totally free to use so give it a shot and show your support for Android Apps Weekly!
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Let’s get into the big Android apps headlines from this last week!:
- In an effort to help websites load faster on mobile browsers, Google has announced the Accelerated Mobile Pages project. Partners for this project include Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more than 20 others. Here’s hoping this works.
- Facebook has announced an interesting new thing called the Network Connection Class. Using this, Facebook will determine your network speed and show you stuff in your news feed based on what your network can handle resulting in faster load times for the News Feed.
- The latest Humble Bundle is now live and includes six games with more to come soon. Some titles include Haunt the House: Terrortown, Jelly Defense, and Fearless Fantasy. You can get three games for $1 or pay the average, which is just around $4 right now, and grab all of them. It’s also a great way to give to charity!
- Earlier this week, it was announced that Spotify is now compatible with RockScout which is an application you can use to control car stereos equipped with MirrorLink. This gives you a far more user friendly way to control Spotify while in the car.
- A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how Russia was thinking of ordering Google to unbundle Google apps from devices. Well, this week, they went ahead and did exactly that. The idea being that Google’s pre-loaded apps cause an unfair disadvantage for third party software. Google has about a month to comply or respond.
For even more Android apps and games headlines, updates, and new releases, don’t forget to check out this week’s newsletter! There we have the complete list of things that happened this last week and it includes all the stuff we didn’t have time for here. If you’re so inclined, you can sign up using your email and we’ll send you our newsletter every Friday to keep you up to date!
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While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out our Twitch channel. It’s been a couple of weeks since we rocked out on some games there but that’s going to change very soon. Hit the follow button and then come join us on our next stream for some video games and chit chat!
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First up this week is AutoDash. This is a custom launcher designed to be used while you’re in the car. The premise is simple as the app allows you to create a customized control panel for easy access to apps, navigation, and media while you’re in the car. It also has a few smaller features like voice recording, IFTTT integration, and song recognition. It’s a little rough around the edges right now so do keep that in mind. Otherwise, it’s totally free and could be fun to use.
Get it now on Google Play!
Meter is a fun, minimal live wallpaper that displays various system information right on your home screen. Some options include your battery, your notifications, your WiFi signal strength, and a lot more. It uses minimal style shapes to visually represent the data so it’s easy to see what’s going on at a glance. You can also manipulate the wallpaper by tilting the phone. Like AutoDash, this one is a bit rough around the edges so your mileage may vary but hey, at least it’s free!
Get it now on Google Play!
ZenWatch FaceDesigner is a new application from ASUS that allows you to design your own Android Wear watch faces for your ASUS ZenWatch. This is pretty fun because it’s not every day that this kind of customization is offered by an OEM for their devices and we hope it becomes a trend that other OEMs follow. Using this app, you can pretty much design your watch face however you want. Do note that it’s only compatible with the ZenWatch so everyone else will have to keep using alternatives.
Get it now on Google Play!
It’s true that Showtime and HBO Now aren’t really new apps, but this last week they were released on Google Play for Android TV. If you happen to have an Android TV device, you can easily search for these apps, download them, and start watching their content. Their designs are both pretty decent considering that they’ll be on a TV and both services appear to work relatively well. Android TV just got a whole lot better thanks to these two apps.
Use the button below to download Showtime or you can click here to get HBO Now.
Get it now on Google Play!
Last up this week are two new applications from Adobe. The first is called Capture CC and this app lets you create a variety of design assets by extracting information from various images. You can also turn these shapes into vector graphics, brushes, and shapes to make your design work easier. Illustrator Draw allows you to, well, draw things. This complex drawing app lets you draw with layers and has integration with a few of Adobe’s desktop applications. Both of these applications are powerful and will get better as time goes. They’re also both free to download.
To download Capture CC, use the button below. You can get Illustrator Draw on Google Play by click here.
Get it now on Google Play!
If we missed any great Android apps and games news, tell us more about it in the comments below!
Samsung, along with just about everyone else, continues to push out high end flagships with the latest Snapdragon 800s (Exynos for Samsung) processor and other competitive specs like 3 to 4 gigs of RAM and monstrous 2k, even 4k (Sony), displays. What they aren’t manufacturing is high performing middle ranged devices.
Alcatel, Asus and Motorola have made radical advancements with their midrange devices. The Idol 3, Zenphone 2 and Moto G have been making huge strides in narrowing the performance gap between midrange and highend phones without narrowing the price gap. Although, Motorola’s own Moto X and the OnePlus Two do lower that price gap by offering highend specs for more affordable prices.
Samsung, as well as other manufacturers like Sony and HTC, haven’t had strong offerings in the midrange level. Ever. Samsung is the king of the flagship and the entirety of the sea of the lowend devices, but their “midranged” devices are just lowend devices in disguise.
With the rumors of the HTC One A9 (Aero) being a midranged handset, HTC might be adapting. There were cries of disgust when people realized that HTC’s “saving grace” wasn’t going to be a super-powered flagship, but it might not have to be.
Three years ago, Motorola released the Moto X and the Moto G. The Moto X was a great phone, but the Moto G was even better. The Moto G was a midranged device that did everything right. Sure, its specs were sub par, past yesteryear, but the experience was still there.
The problem with most lowend to midrange phones is that they provide awful user experiences; they are slow, sluggish, and borderline unusable after a six months. The Moto G fixed all of these problems with a snappy feel to it that worked great for everyone besides power users.
Samsung keeps its grip on the market through relentless campaigning. Their strength is marketing. Samsung’s game is to produce the best flagship device and advertise it until they make the next big flagship device. With this, they grow in brand recognition and pick up the low end sales on account of their recognizability from the flagship device.
There are plenty of phones out there at similar price points that offer way more in terms of specs and experience, but nobody knows about them because they are buried in the sea of Samsung. However, that is all starting to change.
Last year, we saw the rise of OnePlus. They offered a flagship device for a midranged price, and the world took notice. It is unfortunate that the company’s marketing team got overzealous and self-destructed, but that is another story for another time.
This year, we have seen the Blu Pure XL rock the tech world with another flagship phone for a midranged price. Cheaper phones are making an appearance. Soon, they will break into the market and topple Samsung, the king of Android. That is unless Samsung adapts.
Samsung has always made premium flagship devices, and that was okay. The world wanted that premium flagship. However, people are changing, and they are becoming increasingly concerned with bang for their buck value over raw power regardless of cost. There is an increasing interest in cheaper phones and a declining one in the flagships.
People are soon going to realize that Samsung’s premium attention to their flagship devices doesn’t translate into their lowend and midranged devices. They are going to figure out that there are other options out there that better suit their needs. When they do, Samsung’s reign will end, and a new king will rise to take the crown. A cheaper king.
One of the benefits that Android fans enjoy with the operating system is the ability to customize so many parts of what is displayed on their smartphones. Launchers add several customizable options and an untold number of widgets give users the ability to get just the look they want, all without involving programming or graphic design skills. It should be no surprise then that similar capabilities are starting to expand through the Android ecosystem, like the ZenWatch FaceDesigner from ASUS that gives users the ability to design their own watch faces for ZenWatch smartwatches running Android Wear.
The ZenWatch FaceDesigner follows a three step process to customize the watch face. Users choose the base watch face, they choose a clock type, and then finish with an information widget. Each step gives users the ability to do things like choose images, colors, icons, and choose from a variety of pre-built information widgets. Users can even select their own image for a background.
The app may not be to the level where users could virtually replicate a Rolex or some of the more polished designs that are available for Android Wear devices, but it is a start and is likely a sign of things to come for the market.
If you have an ASUS ZenWatch or ASUS ZenWatch 2 device, head on over to the Play Store to grab the app and start work on designing that watch face that you have not had any luck finding elsewhere.
Come comment on this article: ASUS releases ZenWatch FaceDesigner for their DIY watch face makers
Want a brand new Android Wear smartwatch while sticking to a tight budget? It’s your lucky day. The Google Store has started carrying ASUS’ ZenWatch 2, which offers the latest Android experience while starting at a very frugal $149 US. You don’t have the full selection of straps or case colors — sorry, no Milanese band here. However, you can pick from either a moderately-sized 45mm silver body with an aqua blue rubber strap, or a large 49mm gunmetal case with a wristband in navy blue leather. Either wearable will give you a heart rate sensor, improved weather resistance and as much as 66 hours of use between charges. The ZenWatch 2 isn’t as posh-looking as the new Moto 360 or the 2nd Edition LG Watch Urbane, but you probably won’t mind when you’re going to save a wad of cash.
Source: Google Store
The ASUS ZenWatch 2 follows its predecessor’s steps by offering an enticing design for a price point that very few competitors can match. It’s a sweet deal for those who want to get into the Android Wear game without spending too much cash, and today marks the new watch’s arrival to the Google Play Store, where you can buy the ZenWatch 2 for only $149.99.
Not sure whether you want to go for this Android Wear device or upgrade to another one? Though the ASUS ZenWatch 2 is cheaper than your conventional wearable, we have to tell you there is not much to sacrifice with it. It did pretty well in our full review and it comes with very similar specs compared to the others.
The ASUS ZenWatch 2 features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 0.5 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage. It’s also worth mentioning there are two sizes, which will make many of you very happy. The largest version’s dimensions are 49.6 x 40.7 x 9.5 mm, features a 320×320 AMOLED display and a 400 mAh battery. Meanwhile, the smaller iteration measures in at 45.2 x 37.2 x 10.5 mm, has a lower resolution 280×280 AMOLED panel and is powered by a 300 mAh battery.
We didn’t have much to complain about during our full ASUS ZenWatch 2 review, either. Our main issue was with the bezels, which are still pretty large. Otherwise, the device features a great battery life, fast magnetic charging, different prices and a price point that makes it one of the most luring Android Wear products around.
Will any of you be buying it? Just head over to the Google Store to put your name on one. It’s shipping now, so have no doubt that you will be rocking your own in just some days!
Another Android Wear device has been made available through the Google Store. ASUS’ ZenWatch, the smartwatch that was announced way back in June, is being sold by Google for $149. The Google Store is offering the ZenWatch 2 in two sizes, each with its own color option. The 45mm size comes in Light Aqua with a rubber strap while the larger 49mm size is Navy Blue and has a leather strap.
The ZenWatch 2 features all-day battery life and is said to take sixty minutes to reach a charge of 80%. This is in addition to powering the built-in biosensor that measures a user’s activity and relaxation levels for the ZenWatch Wellness Manager app to analyze. For smartwatches with square-edge displays, ASUS definitely has one of the nicer models.
Come comment on this article: ASUS’ ZenWatch 2 is being sold through the Google Store
After years of suing everyone in sight, it appears that Microsoft is in the market to make some friends. This week they’ve announced a deal to end a patent war with Google and now they’re buddying up with Asustek.
In a deal announced on Thursday, it appears Microsoft will agree not to sue Asus for their Android patents if Asus agrees to bundle Microsoft software, including Office, on their tablets and phones. The agreement calls for “closer integration” between the two companies that currently share a patent agreement. The deal will see Asus …”pre-install Microsoft Office productivity services on Asus’ Android smartphones and tablets” like the popular budget Asus Zenfone 2. The companies also announced that they will work together on future new projects.
““Beyond ensuring continued improvements to our products, it opens the door to the kind of collaboration between Microsoft and ASUS made possible only through mutual respect and alignment on intellectual property.”“
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has struck a deal to bundle their software onto phones and tablets for an agreement not to sue. Samsung owners were greeted with a Microsoft folder in their application tray in this generation of flagships that had apps like Office, OneNote and OneDrive inside.
Microsoft has continued a strategy of pushing their mobile apps into the view of customers any way possible. Whether these agreements are smart or annoying is based solely on which side of the table you sit. For Microsoft, it definitely extends the reach of their products and getting your software on a users device is a huge advantage to lock them into your ecosystem. For users, extra added software out of the box, or bloatware, is annoying and if it’s impossible to remove, can build resentment. Luckily carriers like T-Mobile and Sprint make the applications uninstallable.
What do you think of Microsoft’s strategy? Will moving their apps into the mobile world pay off big or cost them? Let us know what you think.
The post Asus devices will come bundled with Microsoft Office to avoid a lawsuit appeared first on AndroidGuys.
According to media reports, more people die taking selfies than from shark attacks, which is a staggering thought considering the fearsome reputation that sharks have. Thinking back, though, how often have you lost sight of your surroundings in the search for the perfect selfie? Whether you are leaning over a bannister, stepping backwards without looking or simply sticking your head out of a window, they are all decidedly risky propositions. ASUS France has published a small infographic, detailing how not to take a selfie. Of course, it’s no coincidence that the Taiwanese handset maker also sells a smartphone called the ZenFone Selfie.
In case you were wondering, the ZenFone Selfie sports a 5.5-inch Full HD display, a Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB/32GB of internal storage, MicroSD card support and a 13MP rear camera with dual-flash. There’s also a more than handy 3,000mAh battery to get you through the day. As is fitting for the device name, the Selfie features a front camera with a whopping 13MP sensor, along with dual-flash.
As for the dangers of taking selfies, as the image suggests, taking selfies while driving, cycling, jumping out of helicopters, during a lightning and thunderstorm, standing on the train tracks with an approaching train behind you, or indeed, posing next to a grizzly bear, are not recommended. Chances are, if you insist on taking selfies in situations such as those mentioned, you may well end up mentioned in the Darwin awards. So be careful out there.
Come comment on this article: Asus illustrates the dangers of selfies while promoting the ZenFone Selfie
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Microsoft‘s name has appeared in more Android news that most manufacturers in recent news, primarily due to its recent push for Microsoft apps to be fully integrated into the Android ecosystem. Today, Microsoft and ASUS have made the news after they agreed to expand their existing patent licencing agreement – one immediate result of this will be Microsoft Office apps coming pre-installed on ASUS’ smartphones and tablets from now on. Behind the scenes, this should help both sides continue on the paths that they’ve started to carve out for themselves in the Android world.
As ASUS General Counsel, Vincent Hong says:
“This agreement will give us both a greater ability to innovate for our customers. We see it leading to broad partnership opportunities for future technologies and a strengthened relationship between our two companies as leaders of the technology industry.”
Seems like a win-win-win to us. What do you think about the licencing deal between Microsoft and ASUS? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
The post Microsoft and ASUS agree on expanded patent licencing agreement appeared first on AndroidSPIN.