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26
Oct

Nokia Lumia 735 review: more than just a selfie phone


Nokia Lumia 735 and yours truly

Last year’s Lumia 720 was an awkward middle child. It was more powerful than its 620 cousin, but not so much so that you’d consider it over the 820 unless you just had to have the first budget Lumia with LTE. If you’re going to pay a lot more, why not get a lot more? Flash forward to 2014, and the Lumia 735 follow-up (along with the dual-SIM 730) appears to have more of a reason for being — namely, catering to a selfie-loving public. With a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, more powerful internals and a €219 ($279) price, the 735 promises great self-portraits without decimating your bank account. But is it necessarily your best choice for those “I was there” photos? And more importantly, is it worth buying over both other Windows Phones and the other devices in its price class? You’re about to find out.

Hardware

Lumia 735 backside

One glance at the 735 and it’s immediately clear that this is a textbook Nokia (or rather, Microsoft Mobile) design. Its minimalist, rounded plastic shell looks like a Lumia 920 or 1020, just without the bulk; the newer Lumia is only slightly narrower and taller to accommodate its 4.7-inch screen, but it’s noticeably thinner and lighter, at 0.35 inch thick and 4.7 ounces. It’s one of the most comfortable phones I’ve held in a while, and about my only gripe is that the sharp-angled corners occasionally dig into my palm. I’m also a sucker for the matte mint-green finish on my test unit, since it’s at once eye-catching and resistant to dust and smudges. Don’t worry if this or the glossy orange is too garish for your liking, by the way — there are black and white models if you’re a little more conservative.

Not that the ergonomics have improved across the board, whether you’re comparing it to the 720, 920 or other previous Windows Phones. You’ll still find the volume and power buttons in easy-to-reach places on the right side, a headphone jack on the top and a micro-USB port on the bottom. However, you won’t see a dedicated camera key like you saw on the 720 as well as the more recent 830 and 930. Let that sink in for a minute — the Lumia 735, a smartphone devoted to spur-of-the-moment selfies, doesn’t have a quick way to take those selfies. It’s an odd regression on a device that’s otherwise a clear step forward, and it takes some of the fun out of a signature feature.

Lumia 735 with its shell off

You may forgive that gaffe with the controls knowing the improvements to expandability. You can now pry off the entire rear shell, which lets you not only add microSD storage (already possible on the 720), but also swap covers and replace the 2,220mAh battery pack. If you regularly find yourself on weekend trips where wall outlets aren’t an option, or you just can’t stand USB battery packs, this could prove to be a lifesaver. The 720’s Qi-based wireless charging has carried over, too, so you can plunk the 735 down on a compatible charging plate at the end of a long day rather than fiddle with cables. Just be ready to buy a microSD card if you’re a shutterbug or otherwise tend to chew through free space. There’s only 8GB of built-in storage, so you’re going to run out of room very, very quickly if you aren’t ruthless about deleting files.

Beyond this, the back holds both a speaker and a 6.7-megapixel camera with flash and a wide-angle lens; on the front, you’ll see an earpiece, a mic and the phone’s centerpiece 5-megapixel selfie camera. You won’t find capacitive navigation keys, however. As with the Lumia 630 and 635, you’ll have to get through the Windows Phone interface using on-screen buttons. I didn’t have a problem with these controls taking up visual real estate, but it could be a concern if you don’t like toggling software keys on and off just to maximize the usable screen area for your apps.

Display and sound

Lumia 735 display up close

If the Lumia 720’s display was a disappointment, the 735’s is a joy. Instead of a slightly cramped 4.3-inch, 800 x 480 LCD, you’re now looking at a 4.7-inch, 1,280 x 720 AMOLED screen. There’s much more room to breathe here, and visuals that once looked blocky are now crisp. The switch to AMOLED virtually guarantees deep blacks with full image quality at almost every viewing angle. Colors still pop without any obvious signs of oversaturation, and the output is wonderfully bright — so bright that I had to turn the brightness down to “low” when I wasn’t testing the battery. Suffice to say that you’ll have little trouble using this Lumia in bright sunlight.

That doesn’t mean it’s flawless, of course. There are sharper screens if you’re willing to go to higher-end hardware (the 750p Apple iPhone 6 and 1080p HTC One M7 come to mind), and it’s notable that the second-generation Moto G sports a 5-inch, 720p LCD at a lower price. Moreover, you don’t get the Lumia line’s hallmark Glance feature, which shows the time and basic notifications while your phone’s asleep. I found myself missing that convenience more than a few times during my trial run; I don’t want to wake my phone up just to know how late I’m going to be. The 735 does have both a high-sensitivity and a double-tap-to-wake option, mind you, so it’s still a good pick if you either like to wear gloves or don’t want to reach for the power key every single time.

Sound on this Lumia isn’t nearly as impressive. The rear-firing speaker is loud, but there’s virtually no bass; you’ll definitely be plugging in headphones to enjoy your tunes as they were meant to be heard. And while the grille is positioned at an angle that keeps it exposed on a desk (such as during a speakerphone call), it’s a little too easy to muffle the sound while holding the phone in your hand. Given how closely the 735 resembles the 920 and 1020, I’m surprised Microsoft’s mobile team didn’t keep the speaker in an unobstructed position on the bottom.

Software

Lumia 735 keyboard

Windows Phone 8.1 is no longer all that fresh, but it’s still an important factor in whether or not you’ll like this device. If the Lumia 720’s software felt undercooked, the 735’s comes across as well-done. There’s a notification area to catch those important alerts, and Cortana’s voice command engine will do your bidding; the Word Flow keyboard gives you swipe-based typing, and you have more control over the look of your home screen (including folders and wallpaper). There are still gaps in the OS, such as Microsoft’s unorganized settings and Cortana’s inability to handle timers. Even with the hiccups, you can pick the Lumia 735 without feeling that you’re sacrificing basic features from Android or iOS just to get some of Windows Phone’s key advantages, like Live Tiles and deep tie-ins with social networks.

It’s also appealing for what you don’t get: bloatware. Aside from the curious inclusions of Gameloft’s GameHub and the Domino’s Pizza app — no, really — my unlocked test unit was limited to the expected batch of Lumia apps (such as Beamer screen sharing), MSN apps (like Sports) and Here navigation tools. The best part? You don’t have to keep many of these titles. Even if you wind up with a carrier-locked 735, Windows Phone will let you uninstall nonessential apps to either free up storage or remove clutter.

The platform still has an app deficit, though, and it remains an Achilles’ heel. Don’t get me wrong: Most of your needs are easily covered. You’ll find Instagram, Swarm, Vine, WhatsApp and other staples of the modern smartphone experience. However, there are still a few holes. If you lean heavily on Google’s ecosystem, Windows Phone still isn’t for you. You’ll find alternative apps like IM+ (for Hangouts messaging) and MetroTube (for YouTube), but the platform remains best when you’re taking advantage of Microsoft’s own wide array of software, like Skype and Xbox Video. The more pressing issue is simply the lack of “last mile” apps that cover specialized services and utilities, such as your local bank or transit authority; you may have to make do with websites or unofficial tools. The Windows Phone Store’s selection is healthy, but Microsoft needs to focus more on the quality of its catalog, not just the quantity.

Camera

Lumia 735 selfie

Photography is ostensibly why you’re here — if it weren’t for the promises of high-quality selfies on a budget, there wouldn’t be much to capture your imagination and lure you away from other smartphones. Thankfully, the Lumia 735 lives up to that billing… so long as your expectations match the price, anyway. The 5-megapixel front-facing camera is sharper than what you’ll normally find in this class, and the combination of a wide-angle lens and a relatively bright f/2.4 aperture (both carried over from the 720) produces shots that are well-lit and let you fit an absurd amount of content into the frame. There was plenty of room for three people if I held the phone at arm’s length, and solo self-portraits can easily include tourist attractions or other scenic backdrops.

With that in mind, Microsoft definitely isn’t setting a new high watermark in photography. The Lumia’s front cam has a slightly bluish tone, and shots in moderately dim settings are prone to both noise and occasional blurring. The dynamic range and shot-to-shot performance are also lacking. It’s not uncommon to see blown-out skies in daytime images, and you frequently have to wait a couple of seconds as the 735 processes a photo; you won’t be taking rapid-fire snapshots any time soon. I’m also of a mixed opinion about Lumia Selfie, Microsoft’s app for — what else? — front-facing pictures. Its Auto Selfie mode is great for using the rear camera to capture photos, and there are plenty of filters and face-specific adjustments, but you have little control over the photo before you tap the shutter. If there’s a sickly hue from a nearby street lamp, for instance, you’ll have to fix it later. These limitations are fine for the price, but I’d prefer phones like the HTC One M8 (with a brighter f/2.0 lens) or iPhone 6 (with burst selfies and smarter image processing) if money wasn’t a factor.

And the back camera? You’re still dealing with the 720’s 6.7-megapixel sensor and a wide-angle f/1.9 lens, so the story hasn’t changed much versus a year ago. It’s fine for the price range, but the quality varies wildly depending on the situation. While images are often vivid and sharp in good lighting, there are occasional moments when the results are lifeless or flat-out inaccurate; like many Lumias, it periodically wrecks the color balance for no apparent reason. As with the front shooter, the main cam’s dynamic range is limited and tends to hide detail in both highlights and shadows. It’s capable enough in low-light situations, but don’t let that sweet-sounding aperture fool you — you’ll still have to keep a steady hand for night shots.

Lumia 735 rear camera photo

Microsoft partly makes up for these shortcomings through its superb Nokia Camera app. The software doesn’t just give you far-reaching control over elements like focus, sensitivity and white balance, but also presents all that control in a meaningful way. You’ll see the effects of most changes in real time, and they’re simple enough that you’re encouraged to experiment. Case in point: Fully automatic shooting ruined a nighttime river scene, but the manual controls let me take a long-exposure, low-sensitivity image that was far more pleasing. You can also tie Nokia Camera into other apps through software add-ons (“lenses”), so you’re only a quick hop away from the likes of Bing Vision searching or 6-second Vine clips.

Video recording on either of the 735’s cameras (both of which can handle 1080p) mirrors the visual quality you get with stills, just with reduced input over the picture. You’re mostly restricted to tuning white balance and focus when shooting with the main camera, and those few options go away with the front unit. Microsoft’s real ace in the hole here is audio recording. As with many recent Lumias, there’s a Rich Recording setup that prevents very loud noises from overwhelming the microphones, such as bass at a concert. The Lumia can be overzealous in muffling sounds with the default settings; occasionally, it sounds like you were recording from a closet. Nonetheless, that’s still preferable to the unlistenable messes you frequently get from other phones.

Performance and battery life

Gaming on the Lumia 735

Gauging the Lumia 735’s speed is difficult. If all you’re doing is measuring specs, it’s no great shakes. Although the quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM are miles above the dual-core chip and 512MB of RAM of the 720, they’re strictly par for the course among low-end phones these days. In fact, the extra memory is this phone’s only real performance advantage (albeit an important one) over the Lumia 630 and 635. Why would you pay Microsoft’s asking price when something like the Moto G has similar innards for less?

Lumia 735 Lumia 720 Lumia Icon
WPBench 245 179 471
SunSpider 1.0.2 (ms) 1,237 1,440 538
AnTuTu 12,060 7,348 25,750
SunSpider: Lower scores are better.

Because specs don’t tell the full story; that’s why. No, the 735 won’t outrun high-end beasts like the Lumia Icon or One M8 for Windows, but it thrashes the Moto G in the SunSpider web browser test (1,237ms vs 1,534ms) — proof that Microsoft can wring out additional performance through software. You’d be hard-pressed to tell that this wasn’t a flagship just by steering through the basic Windows Phone interface. Scrolling is fast and fluid; transitions happen at a brisk pace; and many apps respond as quickly as you’d hope. If all you’re doing is checking Facebook and playing music, this lower-end Lumia will serve you as well as something costing twice as much. It’s certainly a better pick than the 630 and 635, whose low memory is going to curb your ability to run games and other intensive apps.

There’s only so much Microsoft can do, however, and it’s when you dive into demanding apps that it becomes clear you’re not using a powerhouse. Besides slower web-browsing performance (it’s roughly half as quick as the Icon in SunSpider), the 735 just isn’t great for 3D gaming. A modest title like Wings on Fire plays smoothly, but you can expect stuttering in a visually rich arcade racer like Asphalt 8. No, it wouldn’t be reasonable to demand blistering frame rates from a device so cheap, but you will have to dial your expectations back a notch.

Lumia 735 surfing the web

You won’t have to worry much about battery life. That 2,220mAh pack isn’t huge in an era when some mid-size phones pack upwards of 3,000mAh, but it’s also driving modest hardware. That’s reflected in the healthy longevity I got during my stint. The Lumia 735 managed 9.5 hours in a battery-rundown test that involved looping an HD video at medium brightness with email, Facebook and Twitter running in the background; that’s actually half an hour better than Microsoft’s official estimate. It’s more than enough to get through a day of moderate use that includes Instagram, Twitter, Swarm check-ins and instant messaging, although I would get nervous if someone invited me to enjoy a long night out.

No matter what, cellular performance comes up aces. The unlocked 735 I tried sadly didn’t support North American LTE frequencies (only bands 3, 7 and 20), but it still managed very respectable averages of 21 Mbps for downloads and 8 Mbps for uploads on Rogers’ dual-carrier HSPA+ network in Ottawa, Canada. It should play nicely on AT&T’s network in the US, if you get the same model. Call quality, meanwhile, is excellent. Both ends of the conversation are loud and clear, while the noise-cancellation feature does a fine job of squelching background audio — a recipient couldn’t even tell that I had loud music playing in the background during one test. You should anticipate similarly stellar voice calls on the Lumia 730’s two lines, but it’s going to be slower given that it only supports single-carrier HSPA+ data.

The competition

Lumia 735 checks out a rival

The Lumia 735 is entering a crowded field of not-quite-entry-level smartphones, and your choices are going to vary dramatically depending on what platforms you’re willing to use and where you live. You’re likely to run into a few common alternatives, though, so let’s dig in.

When you limit yourself to Windows Phone, the 735 is a fairly safe bet — in part because it’s tough to find brand-new handsets that directly compete in both price and size. A lot of what’s available is a clear step down in both memory and screen quality, such as the Lumia 635 or Huawei’s Ascend W2. If you have a set spending limit, you may want to consider the Lumia 1320. You’ll give up the 735’s camera prowess and quad-core processing, but you’ll get both a gigantic 6-inch display and a long-lasting battery. If anything, the biggest threat to the 735 is the next step up, the Lumia 830. You’ll lose some quality in selfies, but you’ll also get a more powerful 10-megapixel rear camera, a hardware camera key, more storage and a slightly larger 5-inch screen. Even then, it’s still tempting to pick the 735. It delivers nearly all of the 830’s performance and display quality in a package that leaves lots of cash left over for accessories.

If you’re not wedded to Microsoft’s ecosystem, the rivalry becomes much fiercer… and frankly, the Lumia doesn’t emerge unscathed. Not surprisingly, the elephant in the room is Motorola’s second-generation Moto G. You’re getting most of the experience for a smaller outlay (€199 or less in Europe, $180 in the US), and you’ll get both a higher-resolution rear camera and a larger screen, to boot. While the 735 does have LTE data, wireless charging and better selfies, you’d have to value those a good deal to justify the premium. HTC’s Desire 616 offers a similar bargain, although it’s not as easy to find. Samsung’s comparably priced Galaxy Grand 2 is no real threat, but do look at Huawei’s Ascend G6 — while you lose screen sharpness, you’re getting a good selfie cam and a higher-resolution rear shooter for less cash.

Wrap-up

Lumia 735 home screen

I won’t lie: I came into this review worried that the Lumia 735 would lean too hard on the selfie angle at the expense of other features, much like the 720 did. Happily, this isn’t the case. The 735 (and by extension, the 730) is really a capable, stylish budget smartphone that just happens to take some nice self-portraits. Microsoft Mobile has ironed out many of the kinks from the 720 while simultaneously lowering the price. How can you not like that? To me, the 735 is the real successor to Nokia’s cult favorite, the Lumia 620. It costs a bit more, but it still strikes a fine balance among attractive design, affordability and solid performance. The 630 and 635 are only worth considering if you simply must have a modern Lumia and can’t justify spending more.

Having said this, there are a few big items on my upgrade wish list. The 735’s cameras could stand to perform better, particularly in darker scenes; it really needs a camera key, or at least a lock screen shortcut; it’d be nice to get both a faster processor as well as more built-in storage. And yes, the app supply remains a concern. The Lumia 735 is a very good phone for what you’re paying, particularly if you’re committed to Windows, but it stops short of greatness.

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26
Oct

12 moments in the keyboard’s history


At some point in the day, we all smash our fingers against some form of keyboard — whether it’s of the physical or virtual variety. In this week’s Rewind, we take a look at how the keyboard’s grown beyond its humble typewriter beginnings and taken on a life of its own.

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26
Oct

10 of the hottest new Android apps of the week (October 26)


hottest_apps-week

Looking to pick up a new Android app or game to try out this week? Why not start with some of the freshest titles around? What you’ll find below is a collection of ten of the hottest new Android apps from around the last week or so. We’ve gone through and picked out a nice selection of stuff and think you’ll enjoy a few of them!

Note that this article is split evenly over two pages.


 

inbox by gmail

Inbox by Gmail

Play Store description: “Your email inbox should help you live and work better, but instead it often buries the important stuff and creates more stress than it relieves. Inbox, built by the Gmail team, keeps things organized and helps you get back to what matters.

We say: Google surprised everyone this week with the announcement of Gmail’s latest venture, Inbox. Inbox is essentially Gmail and Google Now slammed together with a mix of the app Mailbox. A few of us here at AndroidGuys have been lucky enough to get the app, and we absolutely love it. If you want it, you currently have to ask for an invite directly from Google by emailing inbox@google.com or asking a friend who has the app.


 

RETRY

Play Store description: “From the guys sitting in the room next to the guys who made Angry Birds, comes RETRY – a game so hard, so addictive, so old skool that you’ll think you’ve stepped into an 8-bit time machine and gone back to 1986. Totally rad!

You’re in the cockpit of a smoking, loop-the-looping, out of control, 8-bit jalopy of an airplane. Grab hold of the yoke, ace. It’s going to take raw skill and white-knuckle stunts to get through this one. Enter the danger zone!

We say: Ever since Flappy Bird came and went, many developers have tried to copy the formula the game had: a balance of too hard but addictive enough to keep you playing. Well, Rovio is taking a crack at it with RETRY. I tried this game myself and it is quite fun, and addictive. The difference with this particular game is there are levels, allowing you to feel a sense of achievement. Don’t take my word for it, download it for yourself.


 

 

RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile

Play Store description: “We are thrilled to announce RollerCoaster Tycoon® 4 Mobile™ including Queue Lines! Enjoy a whole new level of customization, watch your peeps line-up and wait for rides while increasing the BUZZ each one produces. Build your park, make your peeps happy, and play with millions of other players online today! The game includes all new mini-games including slots and others!

We say: For those that have memories of playing RollerCoaster Tycoon on your computer are going to love this new addition. RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile is a shot at bringing the popular computer game to mobile devices. Currently has 3.7 stars and already over 500 thousand downloads, so it must be pretty good. Let us know how you like it.


 

Clash of Gangs

Play Store description: “From the makers of the #1 strategy game on Android comes Clash of Gangs – an all-new action-packed tactical combat game! Clash your way to the top of the criminal underworld as you build your army of loyal soldiers, deadly Bosses, and even military-grade assault Choppers. Send your gang out on combat missions or raid players from all around the world. Build your base and defend your reputation as the leader of the biggest – and baddest – crew in town!”

We say: Clash of Clans has made quite the impact on the mobile gaming world, bringing a fun, humorous, and simple game that has caught the world by storm. Well, the same makers of Gods Rush, IGG.COM, have released the game Clash of Gangs which tries to bring a different twist to the Clash of Clans formula. That is seemingly working, as it has 4.4 stars and over 500 thousand downloads.


lumic

Lumific

Play Store description: “Lumific keeps your camera roll tidy and beautifies your photos, so that you can share them at their best. We group your photos automatically into events. Turn your favorite moments into gorgeous featured events that are easy to show your friends and share over Facebook. See your photos in a whole new light. Using sophisticated imaging technology, Lumific brightens, beautifies and edits your photos. All automatically.”

We say: When Google announced their new Google+ Auto Awesome feature, everyone was amazed. Now you can not just back up your photos automatically, but have become better looking, all without having to do anything yourself. When they added Stories to those slew of features, it was even more incredible. Well, Lumific looks to provide a better experience with those same features. Acting as a Photo Gallery on your phone, if automatically “beautifies” your photos, and then groups them into events so you can find them more easily. They have already updated their app at user’s request, which means they’re willing to work with their user base and provide quick updates, which isn’t common among new app developers.



 
 

The post 10 of the hottest new Android apps of the week (October 26) appeared first on AndroidGuys.

26
Oct

Inhabitat’s Week in Green: Wind farms, algae power and an airplane made of hemp


Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.

Highways are big, dark surfaces that soak in lots of sun. Wouldn’t it make more sense to make them solar-powered? That’s what designer Daan Roosegaarde thought, and now he’s making it a reality. Roosegaarde teamed up with Heijmans Infrastructure to install solar-powered glowing lines on a highway in the Netherlands. The test was a success, and it will soon expand to other parts of the country. Also on the renewable energy front, Masdar is building a 50-megawatt wind farm for the Sultanate of Oman, making it the largest wind farm in the Gulf states region. The wind farm will provide enough clean energy to power 16,000 homes, and it will prevent 110,000 tonnes (121,254 tons) of carbon dioxide from being burned per year. And in the UK, Primrose Solar is teaming up with Solarcentury to build a 48-megawatt solar farm in Portsmouth. The companies are aiming to make it the greenest ground-mounted solar farm in the world. Think algae is just green slime? Think again: The natural resource can power everything from a light bulb to an entire city. Here’s a roundup of some of the top algae-powered designs that could change the world.

A couple years ago, BMW, Daimler and scientists at the Technische Universität München announced plans to join forces to create an affordable and safe electric car. This week, the Visio.M, a tiny two-seater that weighs in at just 900 pounds, will be revealed to the public for the first time at the eCarTec trade show in Munich. In other green transportation news, last week Inhabitat was one of two teams to complete the challenge to drive 834 miles on a single tank of diesel fuel in the 2015 Audi A3 TDI, proving that it’s possible to get from Albuquerque to San Diego without refilling the tank. The world’s first hoverboard is finally here, at least according to a couple in California. The pair claims that they’ve created a working hoverboard that uses electromagnetics to float about an inch off the ground. For urban commuters, Vello Bike has designed a high-performance folding bike that requires only a simple kick to fold and roll it into place, which means you can take the bike on public transit or store it with little hassle. And in aviation news, Canadian company Hempearth is building the world’s first airplane made of hemp. The company hopes the plane will be ready to fly next year.

3D printing holds a lot of promise for the design world, but it also presents some challenges for law enforcement, because it could enable people to create their own guns at home. Last week, a 28-year-old Japanese man became the first person to go to jail for 3D printing after he was found guilty of making two guns at home and sharing a video showing others how to do the same. And Inhabitat was on the scene when New York City held its first-ever getgeeked conference last week. From 3D-printing pens to tablets with their own built-in projectors, check out some of the most useful tech innovations that were on display.

Elsewhere, 3D printing is firmly established in the fields of aerospace and medical technologies, but it’s just starting to emerge as a viable construction technique. At Maker Faire Rome, the World’s Advanced Saving Project unveiled a new type of portable 3D printer that can be used to build homes from clay, mud and fibers. The group hopes to deploy the technology to some of the world’s most impoverished areas. In other green architecture developments, design duo Micaela Colella and Maurizio Barberio have drawn up plans for a prefab wooden home with an innovative steel foundation that can be completely recycled, and French designer Philippe Starck recently teamed up with prefab manufacturer Riko to build a new wind- and solar-powered home. The two-story house produces 50 percent more energy than it consumes.

With Halloween just around the corner, many of our readers are pulling together cool costumes for themselves and their kids, but few top this awesome dad’s illuminated LED stick-figure costume that makes his daughter, Zoey, look like a glowing stick-figure Minnie Mouse. If you’re still at a loss for Halloween costume ideas and you want to do something gadgety, check out our awesome photos of human iPhones, Androids, robots and Minecraft characters here.

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26
Oct

TalkAndroid Weekly Recap for October 20 – October 26, 2014


TalkAndroid_Weekly_Recap

Things were a little calmer this week, but there was a lot of cool stuff. Google dropped a huge bomb by releasing “Inbox” which is a new app for reading your Gmail. We’ve had a chance to play around with the Android Lollipop preview, and we love what we see. Sundar Pichai gets another promotion and Amazon’s Fire Phone didn’t set the world on fire. It’s time to get caught up and get ready for what is sure to be another exciting week in the Android world.

Guides

Copying apps from your old phone or tablet to your new phone or tablet with Android Lollipop

How to make sure your Android phone or tablet is backed up on Google’s servers

How to setup Trusted Devices on Android Lollipop to automatically unlock your phone or tablet

How to lock any app on your phone or tablet for guests and kids in Android Lollipop

How to beam files and photos from one phone to another with the new Android Beam in Android Lollipop

Accessories

Pre-orders for Nexus 9 cover and keyboard folio hit Amazon

Moto 360 Wireless Charging Dock now in stock and ready to ship from Google Play

Montblanc introduces premium accessories for the Note 4

Android TV

Nexus Player now available on the Play Store for $99

Developer brings Android TV to Ouya gaming console

Android Wear

[New Android Wear App] Tempo-Motion is another great option for watch faces

Google Fit app gets exposed prior to official launch

Microsoft wants you to use Bing Torque instead of saying “OK Google” on your Android Wear smartwatch

Android Wear now has GPS and offline music support

Latest Google Maps update brings better Android Wear navigation notifications

Apps – New

[New Android Wear App] Tempo-Motion is another great option for watch faces

Google Fit app gets exposed prior to official launch

[APK Download] Android 5.0 Messenger app can be installed on Android 4.4, no root required

PPLNOTIFY sends Android notifications straight to your web browser on another device

Google introduces ‘Inbox’, an alternative to Gmail that works for you

Microsoft Garage launches two Android apps for your lock screen and travels

Apps – Updates

Spotify announces new family plans starting at $14.99 a month

Play Music gets a Material Design makeover in Nexus 4 port

Gmail 5.0 update will support Outlook and Yahoo accounts

Lollipop’s keyboard can now be installed on any Android device without root

Gmail 5.0 will make the stock Email app obsolete by including Exchange support

Google Play Music gets Material Design, benefits from Songza

Shots of Google Calendar material design overhaul surface

Nokia’s HERE Maps now available on all Android devices

Google adds Material Design to Google Drive App

Google Earth for Android gets updated 3D rendering engine

Nova Launcher update brings more Lollipop flavor to your homescreen

Solar eclipse and police activity cards now showing up in Google Now

SwiftKey introduces two new Material Design keyboard skins

Get in the fall spirit with Google Calendar’s new seasonal wallpapers

Google Inbox users can now invite three friends to use the service

Amazon launches App Store in main Android app

Latest Google Maps update brings better Android Wear navigation notifications

Retailers blocking Apple Pay and Google Wallet as they build their own service

TGI Black Friday app gets updated for 2014 deals

Carriers

AT&T to launch Samsung Galaxy Mega 2 October 24th

Famigo coming pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 through AT&T

AT&T to offer Kindle Fire HDX 7″ for just $49.99 with every Fire Phone purchase

MetroPCS offering entry-level Alcatel Onetouch Pop 7 tablet

Rogers activates its LTE-A service in 12 new markets

Sprint now rolling out LG G2 stability update

Sprint doubles data on their low-end shared data plans

T-Mobile launches annual Postseason sale

T-Mobile’s 10GB/$100 Deal Set to End on the 29th

T-Mobile’s HTC One (M8) now receiving Eye Experience update

HTC One (M8) for Verizon now receiving software update with Eye Experience, Android 4.4.4

Samsung to Release Note 4 Developer Edition on Verizon

Sony SmartWatch 3 now available for pre-order from Verizon Wireless

Chrome

Users of Chrome OS and Android 5.0 reporting Easy Unlock feature is operable

Inbox by Gmail shows up in Chrome Web Store

Chromecast

Chromecast users Cast 650 million times and its successor is on the way

Gaming

Rovio takes flight with new RETRY game

Humble Bundle’s spooky Halloween deal is now live

NHL 2K15 hits the Play Store

Google

Were OEMs to blame for Android Silver never coming to fruition?

You can now filter apps in the Play Store by ratings

Google adds USB Security Key support to make their 2-Step Verification more robust

Google publishes guide for switching from iOS to Android

Google introduces ‘Inbox’, an alternative to Gmail that works for you

Firebase, a cloud database company, joins Google’s Cloud Platform team

Google reassigns Sundar Pichai to oversee all of its products

Googler Alan Eustace breaks parachute jump record from 25 miles up

Retailers blocking Apple Pay and Google Wallet as they build their own service

Hardware

LG debuts NUCLUN processor in the G3 Screen, a Korean exclusive with a 5.9-inch screen

Home Automation

Nest thermostats add compatability with third-party home automation products

Phones – Amazon

Amazon takes $170 million hit “primarily related” to the Fire Phone

Phones – HTC

HTC’s Android 5.0 update roadmap leaks

T-Mobile’s HTC One (M8) now receiving Eye Experience update

HTC One (M8) for Verizon now receiving software update with Eye Experience, Android 4.4.4

Phones – Huawei

Huawei hosting contest to launch the Honor 6 in Europe

Phones – LG

LG debuts NUCLUN processor in the G3 Screen, a Korean exclusive with a 5.9-inch screen

LG Liger shows up in benchmarks with mid-range hardware

LG teases a new concept phone that has mood swings

LG G3 now receiving major stability update

Sprint now rolling out LG G2 stability update

Phones – Motorola

Pictures of Droid Turbo’s retail packaging appear online

Phones – Nexus

“Ambient display” appears to be Nexus 6 spin on Moto Display

Google’s Nexus 6 gets compared to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4

Just how big is the Nexus 6?

Did the Nexus 6 already visit the FCC?

Phones – Oppo

New OPPO teaser hints at second device

Phones – OnePlus

OnePlus pre-order system will go live for 24 hours on October 27th

Phones – Samsung

Samsung launches Galaxy S5 Plus in the Netherlands with Snapdragon 805

Samsung launches budget-friendly Galaxy Core Max in China

Samsung confirms the Galaxy A7 will ship with a Full HD display and 64-bit processor

Samsung Galaxy Mega 2 now available in India

Samsung using Sony’s IMX240 camera sensor for the Galaxy Note 4

Why did Samsung “ditch the stitch” and other design questions answered

Samsung to Release Note 4 Developer Edition on Verizon

Samsung teases Lollipop update for Galaxy Note 4

Galaxy Note 4 destined to be Samsung’s best-selling smartphone yet

Montblanc introduces premium accessories for the Note 4

Galaxy Note Edge to be Launched Thursday in Japan

AT&T to launch Samsung Galaxy Mega 2 October 24th

Samsung Galaxy S 5 to get Android 5.0 Lollipop in December

Phones – ZTE

ZTE officially launches the budget-minded ZTE V5 Max

Project Ara

Google may sell Project Ara modules in a Play Store type marketplace

ROMs

TWRP custom recovery gets support for unlocked 2014 Moto X

Security

Google adds USB Security Key support to make their 2-Step Verification more robust

Set-top boxes

Amazon Fire TV now available in the UK

Smartwatches

LG G Watch gets update that brings new music features

LG G Watch R will be available in the UK starting tomorrow

LG finally announces global release plans for the G Watch R, but still murky

Motorola seeding 4.4W.2 update to Moto 360 with loads of improvements

Moto 360 Wireless Charging Dock now in stock and ready to ship from Google Play

Microsoft wants you to use Bing Torque instead of saying “OK Google” on your Android Wear smartwatch

Next Pebble smartwatch aims to be “more everything,” might feature modular components

Sony SmartWatch 3 now available for pre-order from Verizon Wireless

Tablets

MetroPCS offering entry-level Alcatel Onetouch Pop 7 tablet

AT&T to offer Kindle Fire HDX 7″ for just $49.99 with every Fire Phone purchase

Samsung and Barnes & Noble announce 10.1-inch version of the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook

Pre-orders for Nexus 9 cover and keyboard folio hit Amazon

You can now pre-order the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact for a hefty $499.99

Sony reportedly launching 12-inch tablet in 2015

Updates

HTC’s Android 5.0 update roadmap leaks

Sprint now rolling out LG G2 stability update

LG G Watch gets update that brings new music features

Motorola seeding 4.4W.2 update to Moto 360 with loads of improvements

T-Mobile’s HTC One (M8) now receiving Eye Experience update

HTC One (M8) for Verizon now receiving software update with Eye Experience, Android 4.4.4

LG G3 now receiving major stability update

Samsung teases Lollipop update for Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy S 5 to get Android 5.0 Lollipop in December

Miscellaneous

Motorola video invites people to join company

Deezer acquires Stitcher to broaden streaming content

Samsung donating phones to help U.N. combat Ebola

Online Companies Using Discriminatory Online Pricing

Come comment on this article: TalkAndroid Weekly Recap for October 20 – October 26, 2014

26
Oct

Porsche and Mercedes want electric cars that can fight Tesla


Porsche Panamera sedan

German automakers aren’t strangers to high-end electric cars, but they’ve typically focused on supercars instead of sedans — a problem when Tesla is rapidly encroaching on their business. At last, though, it appears that die Deutschen are gearing up to fight Tesla on its home turf. Manager Magazin has sources claiming that Porsche and Mercedes-Benz are developing all-electric vehicles that would gun directly after the Model S. Details of these new rides are scarce, but they’d reportedly have a range of at least 250 miles. Porsche’s car would be a smaller take on the Panamera you see here, while Mercedes has so far committed only to an EV that would compare to its E- or S-class sedans.

Don’t cancel your P85D reservation just yet, though. As you might have gathered, both projects are believed to be in the early stages. Porsche’s electric sedan wouldn’t arrive until 2018, while Mercedes may not have something to show until 2021. That slow response could give Tesla plenty of time to build up an audience, and the competition may only get fiercer when the more affordable Model 3 hits the road.

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Via: Ars Technica, Autocar

Source: Manager Magazin (translated)

26
Oct

That can’t be good: Amazon has revealed it has $83 million worth of unsold Amazon Fire Phones



unsold Amazon Fire PhonesWhen Amazon announced its long rumoured smartphone, the Fire Phone, it was met with substantial skepticism, primarily because of the operating system it runs on – while technically Android, Fire OS uses its own app store with a heavy emphasis on media, books, movies, music, you name it. It definitely had some intriguing technology built in like the dynamic 3D display, but in a world dominated by Android and iOS with Windows and Blackberry tagging along at a distant third and fourth, the Fire Phone was always going to face an uphill battle. However, from Amazon’s recently released quarterly results, and from the quoted number of unsold Amazon Fire Phones, it seems that battle might actually have been more of a wall.

Amazon has said that in their last quarter, the company has been hit by a $437 million USD loss, $170 million of which was “primarily related to Fire phone inventory valuation and supplier commitment costs”. To add salt to that wound, Amazon said that it has $83 million worth of unsold Amazon Fire Phones, which really hammers home exactly how much Amazon had overestimated its device’s popularity – this might actually have been a situation that OnePlus’ invite system might have saved Amazon a little.


What do you think of Amazon’s losses due to the Fire Phone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: Gamesindustry via Overclockers Club


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The post That can’t be good: Amazon has revealed it has $83 million worth of unsold Amazon Fire Phones appeared first on AndroidSPIN.

26
Oct

Exoskeleton for your hand lets you feel virtual objects and control robots


Chinese company Dexta Robotics set out to develop a hand motion-capturing device last year, but instead of creating a glove like everybody else, they designed an impressively affordable exoskeleton. This device called Dexmo — available in classic and F2 variants — can be used as a virtual reality or a robot controller. For VR, it serves as a way to interact with the digital world within systems like the Oculus Rift — the F2 version even has haptic feedback, letting you feel the size of the virtual object you’ve picked up on screen. The classic version, on the other hand, is purely an input device. In robotics, it can be used to control mechanical hands and arms, even ones designed for dangerous and sensitive tasks like bomb disposal.

In addition, Dexmo can be used to mix music à la Imogen Heap or even control remote-controlled cars and smart lighting, among many other things. Dexta Robotics is currently trying to raise $200,000 via Kickstarter to fund the exoskeleton’s production, and you can get one for as low as $65 (by May 2015), so long as the startup reaches its goal. To know if the exoskeleton’s worth pledging for, check out the demo videos below.

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Via: Road to VR

Source: Kickstarter, Dexta Robotics

26
Oct

Italy hopes free public WiFi will help revive its economy


Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy

What would you do to stimulate a sluggish economy? Push tourism? Cut taxes? Well, Italy is trying something a little different: free public WiFi. Over 100 legislators have proposed spending €5 million ($6.3 million) over three years to help install gratis hotspots in thousands of locations across the country, including airports, large shopping areas and even courtrooms. Theoretically, the move helps Italy make up for its poor broadband adoption (under 1 percent of residents have 30Mbps or faster) by making internet access virtually ubiquitous. It could also help visitors, many of whom would otherwise stay offline during their stays.

It’s hard to say if this will work. Just because people can check Facebook in front of the Prada store doesn’t mean they’ll buy anything, after all. Also, there are all kinds of costs that will determine whether the public WiFi is worth using. The proposal would cover the the initial hardware, but it won’t necessarily cover the running costs — legions of access points won’t matter if they’re oversaturated or tend to break down. A finished bill isn’t expected to go before parliament until mid-2015, however, so it’s likely that this wireless networking plan will go through some revisions before it’s set in stone.

[Image credit: Lorenzoclick, Flickr]

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Source: Reuters

26
Oct

TGI Black Friday app gets updated for 2014 deals


TGI black friday

Black Friday is the single biggest shopping day of the year, so of course there are apps dedicated to keeping up with the deals for the year. The TGI Black Friday app does just that, keeping you updated with what deals will be happening on Black Friday, as well as custom shopping lists and PDF scans of store ads. If you like to do any Christmas shopping on that particular day, this app is a must-have. It’s just been recently been updated for the 2014 season, so if you’re interested you can find some screenshots of the app and a download link below.
qr code

Play Store Download Link

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Come comment on this article: TGI Black Friday app gets updated for 2014 deals

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