According to a new report from Reuters, Samsung is in talks to buy Blackberry for $7.5 billion. The South Korean electronics company is interested in the company for Blackberry’s patent portfolio, according to unnamed sources associated with Reuters. Samsung didn’t offer a flat rate of $7.5 billion, though they put in an offer to buy individual shares for $13.35 to $15.49 per share. As long as currency conversions change over correctly, Samsung could end up paying anywhere from $6 billion to $7.5 billion for the company, as long as the $1.25 billion in debt transfers over as well. Reportedly, this represents a premium of 38% to 60% over Blackberry’s current trading price.
This isn’t really anything surprising, though. Blackberry has been struggling for quite some time to get the company out of the red. After countless failed smartphone attempts and US carriers refusing to carry their products, Blackberry has been dead in the water for quite some time. If you can remember back to November 2014, Samsung and Blackberry were in talks to improve Android’s enterprise security through Samsung devices. Now, Samsung devices might get even more security-centric if this sale goes through. Remember, this is just a rumor so far, and nothing is confirmed yet. Stay tuned to Android Authority for more coverage as this rumor develops.
They say that laughter is good for the body and soul and we agree with that notion. In most cases, you’ll find your laughs online through a range of websites but there are some good Android apps that can get the job done too. Here are the best funny apps for Android.
[Price: Free with in app purchases]
First up is 9GAG and it boasts a large collection of memes, funny images, gifs, videos, and a lot more. There are non-funny things like cosplay and cute stuff as well so you can get your quota of furry kittens and Comicon stars. The app is free to use and claims to give the complete 9GAG experience on Android, including message boards, sharing, and the ability to participate in voting.
Cheezburger is one of the more popular humor sites on the internet that boasts more than 10 million visitors per month and the app is pretty popular as well. The app lets you browse gifs, videos, images, jokes, comics, and tons of other hilarious content. You can also create posts using the app, sign in using Facebook or email, and you can access other sites like Memebase, ROFLRazzi, and more.
theCHIVE is a humor site that posts pictures, stories, videos, and more. The Android app is fairly solid and contains a lot of humorous things. A recent update now allows people to submit more funny stuff to be used by the site as well as a navigation menu to quickly get to categories, top rated, favorites, and other parts of the site. The interface is clean and minimal which makes finding funny stuff even easier. It’s a solid app with some funny stuff in it.
[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Food Battle is every tap-and-play, cutesy game on Android rolled up into one giant parody. In this game, you must kill homicidal donuts that have taken your friends and family hostage. It features cameos from Smosh and dialogue that is geared toward a more mature audience which is a pleasant change from all the for-kids games like Angry Birds or Candy Crush. It features simple controls, puzzles, and characters voiced by Smosh.
Funny Facts Free is essentially what the name says it is. It’s a bunch of funny, weird, goofy, or otherwise entertaining facts and the app is, in fact, free. It doesn’t have the shock value or immediacy of apps like Cheezburger or 9GAG but it does have some entertaining facts. The interface is simple and the app is totally free with no in app purchases. The app will also read you the facts if you want it to. It hasn’t been updated in a while and we imagine that one day this will leave the list due to developer disinterest, but for now it seems to work well.
Despite the obvious lack of creativity when it comes to names, Funny Jokes is an app that contains within it a bunch of funny jokes. You can choose by category and some categories include Chuck Norris facts, one liners, yo mamma jokes, and others. The interface is very simple which is exactly what an app like this should have and it’s free to use. Users can also comment on jokes and rate them. It was also updated somewhat recently.
Goat Simulator is a game where you play the every day life of a goat assuming, of course, that the goat is on many, many drugs. This game started out as a tech demo some years back and the bugs were so hilariously bad that the gaming community clamored for a release. What we get is a game that is intentionally half done because it’s funnier that way. The fun comes with seeing exactly what you can get the goat to do. It’s a tad expensive but it’s still fun.
LOL Pics is a lot like 9GAG and Cheezburger in that you get to look through a collection of funny pictures. The user base adds new photos every day in a gigantic range of categories including fails, FMLs, puns, and other random stuff. The app itself does need a little work if you want more rich features like profile management but it handles general browsing well enough. Also, the interface could use an update but otherwise it’s a good app.
Opera Browser is not, in and of itself, a funny app. However, most of the big funny websites don’t actually have an Android app which means the only way to access them is via a web browser. Any web browser will do really thanks to bookmarks, but the way Opera handles them is why they’re on this list. When you bookmark an app, it shows up on the app’s front page (called Speed Dial) as a nice, clean icon. That means you can bookmark all of your favorite sites and they show up on the front page of Opera much like a miniature app drawer making them easy to access with a clean presentation.
The booth series apps are a range of photo editing apps that make the subject of the picture look a particular way. There is FatBooth, AgingBooth, UglyBooth, and others that will make people look fat, old, ugly, and other things. They are gimmicky apps that have no real functionality but it’s a fun to spend a couple of hours manipulating your friends’ Facebook photos. All of the apps are free and some perform better than others. Some have found a couple of these apps offensive, so if you’re easily offended, we recommend you not try these apps.
Last up is another simulation app that is simply hilarious. In surgeon simulator, you play as a doctor who has no intention on saving any of his patients. You can play as an ER surgeon or a dentist as you slowly destroy the lives of the people foolish enough to put their lives under your care. It is a little bit morbid and dark so those with weak stomachs probably shouldn’t give this one a go. Think of it like Operation except the point is to lose the game.
If we missed any great funny apps on Android, and we probably did, let us know about them in the comments!
Apparently following the adage about keeping your friends close and (potential) enemies closer, the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit hosted Elon Musk last night and followed up today with Chris Urmson of Google. He’s the director of its self-driving car project, and while there are no big name car manufacturers lined up as partners yet, he did call out seven particular industry friends providing various parts for the latest prototypes. That includes LG (battery), Bosch (LIDAR), ZF Lenksysteme (steering gear), RCO, Continental, FRIMO, while Roush is helping to actually put it together here in the Detroit area. There are also NVIDIA chips inside, which Urmson said run mostly Linux software “with some other stuff happening.” He confirmed that Google has talked to the usual list of big names (GM, Ford, Toyota, Daimler, etc.), and hopes cars are ready to go by 2020.
Interestingly, in opposition to what most automakers have said about autonomous vehicles, Urmson stated that he did not anticipate regulatory hurdles to their introduction and is focused on making sure they are socially accepted. He feels that NHTSA does not consider itself a “permission-granting” authority — with a former Deputy Administrator on the team, we guess he’d know — but couldn’t speak in detail about the legal wranglings or how self-driving cars are insured. Still, the exec is confident that self-driving cars could start rolling out in places in the US once they’re safe enough. Those places probably won’t include cold-weather climates, at least at first, since in response to a question he mentioned they haven’t been tested in snowy environments yet.
When the prototypes roll out though, there will always be a driver in them, although it’s testing empty vehicles at its facility, they’re not ready to hit public roads yet. Another element is the LIDAR unit used to keep a 360-view of what’s around the car, but Urmson said Google does not consider that a big hurdle, and is already testing cheaper, more capable prototype units than the usual $75,000 roof-mounted racks we’ve seen so far.
That also plays into the current design of the prototypes, which he said isn’t final, but is friendlier than seeing the first self-driving car in your neighborhood appears as a big SUV. In a Q&A with reporters after his talk, Urmson said the test cars had racked up over 700,000 miles without an at fault accident. That’s despite being side-swiped on the freeway and a much publicized rear-ending that happened while an engineer (in control of the car) was distracted by someone taking a picture and rear-ended another car. The plan for the prototypes is to start testing in Northern California “later this year” and run small pilot tests over the next couple of year. Before that happens though, the leader of Google’s self-driving car project said he is going to hit the Auto Show floor to check out the new Ford GT.
Samsung appears to be getting very close to releasing the Android 5.0 Lollipop update for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphone. A strong indicator that this is close to happening is the availability of the manual for the Galaxy Note 4 that has been updated to include screenshots and information referring to Android Lollipop.
Reports from people who have seen some early builds of Lollipop on both the Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy S 5 indicate Samsung did a good job of incorporating Google’s Material Design philosophy into the TouchWiz UI. The notification area and animations used by Samsung mimic the default Android Lollipop, so anyone familiar with Lollipop should not be in for any surprises.
Even within apps like the Dialer or Contacts, Samsung has incorporated Google’s design standards, so users will see a fresh splash of color when using these apps. There is still no word on exactly when Samsung will release the Lollipop update or how long it will take carriers to prepare their own updates to roll out to users. However, if you want to check out the new owner’s manual, hit the source link below to grab the PDF.
Come comment on this article: New owner’s manual for Samsung Galaxy Note 4 updated with Lollipop screens
Keeping up with news articles can be a cluttered process, especially if you use multiple apps or bookmarks on your phone or tablet. Using a news aggregation app or an RSS reader can tidy up your mobile device and make keeping up with things even easier. There are tons of apps that can get the job done, but we’re going to go over the best options in this guide to help you get started on staying on top of the news.Flipboard is one of the most popular apps on the Play Store for keeping up with multiple news sources, and its even the backbone of pieces of some of Samsung’s new UI on their phones or tablets. It offers a slick experience for quickly browsing over popular news and comes with a handful of extra features that make it fun to use.
Flipboard lets you select different topics for things you want to follow, such as food, technology, music, etc. and then it displays relevant content from top sites as you browse through the main feed. If you select mobile games as something you want to stay caught up on, you’ll see news stories for when Gameloft announces something new or Angry Birds get a major update, while if you subscribe to a scuba diving topic, you’ll see tons of pictures, articles, and content related to scuba diving. You can also subscribe to particular sites if you want.
While reading news articles, Flipboard lets you save particular articles to read later by either tying them to your Flipboard account or exporting them to an external app like Pocket, Readability, or Instapaper. There are also full blown comment sections specifically for Flipboard users on articles, and you’ll be able to take complete advantage of Android’s built-in sharing menu.
For social media enthusiasts, Flipboard also integrates multiple social networks into your news. The app allows you to sign into your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and multiple other accounts, after which content from those social media sites will start appearing in your main feed. This is really helpful for keeping all of the barrage of information in one place if you’ve avid about keeping up with tons of different networks and sources.
Flipboard is completely free, and if you’ve owned a recent Samsung device, there’s a good chance you’ve already played with it a bit.
Feedly is an RSS reader application that works fairly similarly to apps like Flipboard, but you get a more fine-tuned experience if there are specific sites or blogs that you want to track throughout the day. It has an excellent, easy-to-navigate interface that has several customization options that most other aggregation apps lack.
When setting up Feedly, there are preset options for curating content that you’re interested in, like cooking, mobile phones, or video games. Within each of those topics, you can further narrow it down to which sites you want to see in your feed. This can be useful for narrowing down how many music blogs you’re subscribed to, for instance, so you don’t see six different posts about the same thing all within an hour of each other.
With Feedly, you can also specifically set up a URL as an RSS feed, which is useful for tracking more obscure or less popular sources that you may want to keep up with. Plus, Feedly can also handle a bevy of social networks which you can either blend in with your main feed or view separately from the other sources. There are also options for using your favorite save-for-later apps like Pocket and Instapaper, and Feedly also has a tool for setting up a quick-share button. If you typically only ever tweet out news stories, you can set Twitter as your default sharing app and skip Android’s built-in sharing menu.
Feedly is free and offers a web based version for tracking and syncing your news sources on all of your devices. There is a pro version that runs $5 per month that nets you Evernote support, quick article searching, and prioritized customer support, if that’s your thing.
Google has had a splotchy track record when it comes to news and RSS apps. Originally, Google Reader was a fairly successful option for keeping all of your news sources in one place. Google axed Reader in 2013 and offered up Google Currents in its place, but then that app was put on the chopping block in favor of rolling its functionality into Google Play Magazines, which leads us to the current iteration of Google’s news solution: Play Newsstand.
Play Newsstand offers a very unique feature that none of the other apps on this list do. You can purchase and subscribe to magazines through the Play Store, and they’re fully integrated into your other news sources so you can view everything in one place. There isn’t much in the way of RSS feeds, but Newsstand has an enormous selection of magazines and web content. You can look up specific news channels from tons of categories ranging from technology to business to travel, dig into a particular magazine, or see everything thrown together in a main feed.
Newsstand also has a very useful “bookmark” feature that lets you save your spot in a particular magazine or clip an article on the web to read later. These bookmarked articles and magazines are available for viewing offline, and the bookmark will hold your place so you can pick up right where you left off.
While Play Newsstand doesn’t have social media integration or tons of customization options, it’s one of your only choices for magazines and offers an excellent way to keep all of your main news sources in one place. Plus you get the excellent Material Design interface that Google has been pushing lately, so it’s worth taking for a spin.
Press is one of the apps that doesn’t try to throw in the kitchen sink in its feature set, but instead, focuses on building an excellent application with a slick interface that’s easy to use. The app has enough features to appeal to most users, but it really stands out thanks to the fantastic UI.
Press works as an RSS reader with tons of preset news sources. You can set up all of your favorite hobbies and interests, and Press displays everything in a clean, easy-to-read manner. As a bonus, the app will also sync with your other RSS feed sources, including ones from Feedly, Fever, FeedBin, and Feed Wrangler. If you juggle multiple apps and services, this is a huge time saver.
When it comes to features, Press nails the important things. There are a couple different theme options, depending on if you prefer white or dark interfaces, and a few other tweaks tailored to the UX. There is full support for apps like Pocket and Instapaper, offline support, image zooming, and widget/lock screen widget support. There isn’t any magazine store or social media integration here, but the interface is much faster and cleaner with Press than with some of the other apps.
If the other apps on the list are too bloated or heavy for your tastes, Press is worth a shot. At only $2.99 it’s one of the best designed and well-performing Android apps on the Play Store.
Digg is a service that was beginning to fade in popularity but made a fairly strong comeback on the announcement of Google Reader’s demise. The redesigned app that was released into the Play Store really put the service back on the right track and is a great option for someone that wants a slightly more hands-off approach to curated news.
Digg offers most of the best features of any other RSS or news application. You can add specific feeds from your favorite site or select from a list of the most popular sites in different categories, and you’ll still have access to do things like saving the stories to read later in Pocket or Instapaper. Where Digg really shines, though, is in the focus on popular and social content.
To make sure you’re caught up on the biggest stories online, Digg actually uses algorithms to see what people are talking about and sharing. There’s a little help from the Digg staff, but the whole point behind putting this content front and center is to keep you updated with the latest viral videos or the hottest political stories, even if it’s not something that would normally be in your primary circles. For some people, that might sound like an annoyance, but for others, it’s an easy way to stay up to date on what your friends and coworkers are talking about.
To push that even further, Digg makes it a priority to let you quickly and easily share stories to your social networks or to your Digg account. These shares likely play into the algorithm that they use to decide what’s popular or not, so the app almost functions like a crowd sourced news feed.
On top of everything else, the Digg app has a great interface. It’s slick, intuitive, and very easy to use. It’s completely free, and creating a Digg account lets you access your stories on the app or on the web.
These are the top five apps for keeping up with your favorite news each day, but there’s no shortage of other news apps on the Play Store. Did we miss any of your favorites? Drop a comment and let us know.
Come comment on this article: Top 5 news and RSS apps for Android [January 2015]
You all remember Project Ara, right? The crazy and super cool modular phone design that Google has been messing about with for a while now isn’t as far off being a reality as many might think it is. Today there has been a lot of technical details and talks for what is happening and what […]
The post Project Ara pilot market headed to Puerto Rico, teaser trailer gets us excited appeared first on AndroidSPIN.
Following the slow down in news that comes during the holiday season, every January CES arrives on cue, ready to kick off the new year and give us a small taste of what to except in the weeks, months and, sometimes, even years to come. While this year’s CES was arguably a bit mild for Android fans, there were actually several noteworthy products shown off last week, including LG’s new flagship-level G Flex 2.
For those who regularly follow Android Authority, you know that we typically give out top pick awards at all major tech shows, recognizing the devices and technologies that most impressed us. This year is no exception, and so let’s jump right in and take a look at our Android Authority CES 2015 top picks!
LG G Flex 2
We’re sure no one is surprised to see that the LG G Flex 2 made the cut. Easily one of the biggest announcements of CES, if not the biggest, the G Flex 2 builds upon the solid foundation of its predecessor, though this time LG listened to some of the biggest gripes most of us had with the original G Flex: namely the oversized 6-inch display with a less than flattering 720p resolution. The G Flex 2 not only features a smaller 5.5-inch 1080p curved display, LG has also greatly improved the build quality, enhanced special features like quick healing (which is now even faster), and will be the first globally available handset to market that ships with a Snapdragon 810 processor.
While the G Flex was a solid device with reasonably higher-end specs, the G Flex 2 is a great step forward and so picking it as a top pick was sort of a no-brainer.
Learn more about G Flex 2:
Asus Zenfone 2
Asus unveiled the first-generation ZenFone line back at CES 2014, coming in 4, 5 and 6-inch variants. A year later, they’ve now refreshed the series at CES 2015 with the ZenFone 2 and the ZenFone Zoom. While both of these devices are quite solid, we want to give special attention to the ZenFone 2. The ZenFone 2 is interesting for a number of reasons: it’s ergonomically-curved design and slim edges, its pricing begins at just $199, and there’s a model available that comes with a massive 4GB of RAM.
Bottom-line, the ZenFone 2 takes everything we liked about the original ZenFone series and upgrades it with improved Intel-powered internals and a better overall design. Aggressive pricing is what really sells this series, though we still don’t know exactly how much the higher-end 4GB variant will set consumers back.
Learn more about ZenFone 2:
HTC Desire 826
While HTC doesn’t break the mold with the Desire 826, we applaud the work HTC has done in the mid-range sector, creating handsets that look and feel so premium you’d be forgiven if you thought they were actually flagship products. As far as looks are concerned, the Desire 826 seems a bit like a cross between the Desire 820 and the Desire Eye, both of which were released last fall.
The Desire 826 might follow a similar design as found on 2014’s Desire family, but the 826 is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, the handset is the first HTC device to ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop right out of the box, with Sense on top of it. Second, the Snapdragon 615-powered handset experiments with the somewhat controversial HTC UltraPixel cam in a new way, bringing it to the front. On the back, is the same 13MP shooter we’ve seen on several recent HTC mid-range products.
Like most of this year’s CES winners, the Desire 826 may be derivative, but it’s still a step forward and is a great starting point for HTC as it heads into 2015.
Learn more about Desire 826:
Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
Okay, while we’ve known about the Snapdragon 810 for a while now, Qualcomm officially “launched” the chipset at CES 2015, and the LG G Flex, the first globally available device running the chipset, was also announced during this same timeframe. Up until now, the latest Snapdragon 800-series processor was the 805, and while the 810 isn’t worlds apart from its predecessor, it should still provide a modest step up in performance, a move to 64-bit, and the Adreno 430 is a gamer’s dream.
While the Snapdragon 810 wasn’t the only major new mobile chipset announced at CES, the big difference is that Qualcomm actually showcased the technology in a traditional mobile product, something we’ve yet to see from the much-hyped Nvidia Tegra X1.
Learn more about Snapdragon 810:
- Qualcomm demos Snapdragon 810 features in video
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 vs 805
- LG G Flex 2 officially announced with Snapdragon 810
The YotaPhone 2 was released a couple of months ago, but its presence at CES 2015 was a great way for the company to showcase this unique smartphone to the US market. Yota has certainly come a long way with their signature smartphone, from the more experimental first iteration to the YotaPhone 2, which includes an even better implementation of its unique rear display setup.
The YotaPhone 2 packs decent hardware, but of course, the big story with this smartphone is the E-Ink display that is found on the back. With a slew of software features, such as YotaMirror and YotaSnap, to take advantage of this rear screen, the YotaPhone 2 certainly has a very different take when addressing a common issue with most current smartphones, battery life.
This device may not feature the latest and greatest in terms of specifications, but the rear display is far from just a gimmick, and can actually prove to be quite useful to a lot of users. Being able to stand out in an overcrowded smartphone market is one of the many reasons the YotaPhone 2 is certainly deserving of our Best of CES 2015 top pick title!
Learn more about YotaPhone 2:
While the Saygus V2 may not be as unique as the LG G Flex 2 or the YotaPhone 2, what really caught our eye was everything it manages to pack into a single device. A beautiful display, front-facing Harman Kardon speakers, and a storage capacity more than what you may know what to do with, the V2 is certainly worthy of its title as a true multimedia smartphone.
That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the V2, which also features a 21 MP rear shooter, a 13 MP front-facing camera, and a fingerprint scanner, all in a premium looking Kevlar and metal body. Of course, the marquee feature of the Saygus V2 is its storage capabilities, with 64 GB of on-board storage enhanced by two 128 GB microSD card slots, for a total of potentially 320 GB of memory. The V2 also comes with an unlocked bootloader and it is easy to gain root access, making this a dream device for developers as well.
Giving an unknown company like Saygus a “top pick” award might seem a little strange, but we were really impressed by what we saw from this startup. As long as pricing is at least somewhat aggressive, we could see this being a great device for spec-hounds that like the idea of tons of storage, a durable waterproof design, a fingerprint reader and aren’t turned off by the fact that this is a relatively unheard of brand. By ticking all the right boxes and offering above and beyond what we get from even the most expensive of flagships, the Saygus V2 is very much worthy of one of our Best of CES 2015 awards.
Learn more about Saygus V2:
ZTE SPro 2
As we’ve seen quite often recently with TVs, watches and automobiles, Android isn’t just limited to smartphones and tablets, but one of the more unique implementations we’ve seen is with the ZTE SPro 2, a projector and 4G LTE Hotspot device, that brings with it almost all the capabilities of Android.
The pico projector is capable of outputting a 720p image up to 120-inches in size, with a brightness of 200 lumens, doubling what was available with its predecessor. As was the case with the first iteration, the SPro 2 also works as a 4G LTE Hotspot, allowing for up to 8 devices to be connected simultaneously. USB 3.0, HDMI, and audio connections are all available, along with a potential storage capacity of up to 2 TB. The battery has also seen a bump to 6,300 mAh, which means that the SPro 2 can run for 3 hours while used a projector, and up to 10 hours when functioning as a hotspot.
A skinned version of Android 4.4 Kitkat is available on-board, packed with useful media-centric features, with navigation made possible easily on the 5-inch touchscreen. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and Adreno 330 GPU found under the hood also make some portable projector-based gaming possible. The metal construction also gives it a more premium look.
The ZTE SPro 2 improves on its predecessor in a number of ways, and should allow for an even better experience this time around.
Learn more about ZTE SPro 2:
Sony Bravia Android TV
A pleasant surprise during CES 2015 was from Sony, and it had nothing to do with their next flagship smartphone or tablet. Instead, it was the announcement that the upcoming line of Sony Bravia Smart TVs would come with Android TV on-board.
With Android TV, users now have access to movies, TV shows, games, and music, all through Google Play. The TV sets ship with a remote for navigating around the OS, and for using Google Now through voice dictation. Gaming is also possible using any Android-compatible controller, or even a Playstation 4 controller, connected to the TV via Bluetooth.
While we focused mostly on the 4K model during our CES coverage, what truly makes Sony’s Android TV partnership significant is that it applies to all smart TVs made by Sony, meaning no more custom interfaces for Sony smart TVs. Sony’s commitment to Google’s TV platform is a huge boost for Android TV, and adds a whole other aspect to the television viewing experience, which we can’t help but be excited about.
Learn more about Sony Bravia Android TV:
Fugoo took the wraps off its latest lineup of wireless Bluetooth speakers at CES 2015, and as the XL in the name suggests, it is not an understatement to say that these speakers have been super-sized, by almost 4 times, when compared to its predecessors.
In terms of design, things remain largely the same though, just in a much bigger iteration, with the latest series also coming in Style XL, Sport XL, and the Tough XL versions. The Tough XL is of course the most rugged of the lot, said to be nearly indestructible, but the good news is that all Fugoo Bluetooth speakers come with a IP67 certification for protection against dust and water, with the Style XL and Sport XL versions also coming with the ability to float.
It’s not just the size that has been given a boost, with each of the speakers now coming with eight acoustic drivers, compared to the six of the original, adding two more neodynium tweeters for a total of four, along with two neodymium aluminum domed mid-woofers, and two passive radiators. Of course, the battery has been super-sized as well, now offering up to 35 hours of continuous playback at moderate volume levels.
In a world where wireless Bluetooth speakers, good and bad, are a dime a dozen, the Fugoo XL certainly manages to stand out in a crowd.
Joining the Fugoo XL in the supersized wireless bluetooth speaker department is the UE MEGABOOM, that was also unveiled last week during CES 2015. A follow up to the successful BOOM speakers by Ultimate Ears, a subsidiary of Logitech, the MEGABOOM brings with it the same great cylindrical design, in a bigger, and more powerful avatar.
Even though this latest speaker is larger, it’s easy to hold in one hand and weighs about the same as its smaller sibling, making it just as portable. It boasts a Bluetooth connectivity range of a 100 feet, with a larger battery allowing for audio playback of up to 20 hours, playtime up to 20 hours, and like the original, can be paired with another MEGABOOM speaker for a stereo sound.
For those audiophiles looking for a high-quality bluetooth speaker experience, the UE Megaboom is hard to beat, and that’s why we felt it was worthy of one of our Best of CES 2015 awards!
At least from a mobile-focused perspective, this year’s CES was less about innovation and more about making improvements to existing technologies. Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the G Flex 2, ZenFone 2 and even the S Pro 2 are all great examples of how to take an existing product and make it even more desirable. What do you think of this year’s Best of CES top picks winners? Agree with them, feel we let something out? Let us know what you think in the comments.
As for what’s next? CES may now be behind us, but Mobile World Congress will be here before we know it and 2015 is already shaping up to be a pretty exciting year. Be sure to stay tuned to Android Authority as we strive to deliver the very best in all things Android and mobile technology!
Google has just released their Classroom app to help students and teachers communicate better after almost 6 months of being exclusive to the web. The mobile app, available through the Google Play Store and iOS App Store for anyone with a Google Apps for Education account, has all of the same features as the web interface with a few nice additions to help both students and teachers. Along with the launch of the mobile app, Google has added two new features to Classroom: snapping photos for documentation and share from other apps via the Classroom app.
Students can now snap photos directly from their assignment page in the mobile application. This feature could be particularly useful if a student needs to take a photo of their science project or a simple drawing of a family tree. What’s more, if a student leaves their homework at home, a parent can snap a photo of it and send it in through the Classroom app. Take a look at the video below for more details.
Google has also added in the ability to share from other apps to Classroom. When you save a document into Drive or draw a picture in a drawing app, you can click the share button and Classroom will be a new option in the list. This is sort of a no-brainer feature, but we’re happy Google included it in the first version of the app.
The app also supports offline caching, so if your classroom is lacking in service at the time, information stored on Classroom is still available. Additionally, Google has launched a teacher’s assignments page on the web, which aims to give teachers access to any assignment from any class at a given time.
Last but not least, Google added an “archive class” button, giving students easy access to removing a class once it’s over. Now, the key word here is archive, not delete. If a student needs to retake a class or turn in an assignment after the class is over, the class will still be available in read-only mode. If you’re interested in download the new Google Classroom app, head to the Play Store to download it for free.
So you want to buy an iPad? Great. Would you believe Apple actually offers five different iPad models? Sure, the company only touts two of them — the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 — but Apple continues to carry three older models that could be right for you, depending on your circumstance. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the different iPads Apple offers to help you decide which model is best for you.
Apple has two current iPads, with the most obvious difference being size. Here’s an overview of what each line offers:
iPad Air: The bigger of the two models. The current version is the iPad Air 2. Key specifications:
- Measures 9.4 by 6.6 by 0.24 inches and weighs less than a pound
- Fully laminated 9.7-inch LED backlit Retina display with an anti-reflective coating
- 2048‑by‑1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch
- 64-bit A8X processor and M8 motion coprocessor
- 16GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage
- 8-megapixel iSight camera and 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera
- Sensors include Touch ID, gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer, and ambient light
Apple also offers the original iPad Air in its current lineup. When comparing the 16GB models (the iPad Air is available with 16GB or 32GB storage), you save $100 if you go with the iPad Air, but it lacks the Touch ID, iSight burst mode, and the anti-glare screen that is found in the iPad Air 2. It’s also a little thicker and uses an older and slower 64-bit A7 processor with an M7 motion coprocessor. The iPad Air 2 is worth the extra money, even if only for the laminated anti-reflective display that makes content look absolutely gorgeous.
For a deeper dive into the differences between the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Air, read the MacRumors iPad Air 2 roundup.
iPad mini: A smaller iPad is by no means a lesser iPad. The latest model is the iPad mini 3. Key specifications:
- Measures 7.87 by 5.3 by 0.29 inches and weighs about 0.75 pounds
- 7.9-inch LED backlit Retina display
- 2048‑by‑1536 resolution at 326 pixels per inch
- 64-bit A7 processor with M7 motion coprocessor
- 16GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage
- 5-megapixel iSight camera and 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera
- Sensors include Touch ID, gyroscope, accelerometer, and ambient light
Apple has two other iPad mini models in its current lineup, and both are older models.
The iPad mini 2 has only one major feature difference from the iPad mini 3: Touch ID. While Touch ID is a great security feature that’s convenient to use, you might be willing to sacrifice it to save some money. Also, the iPad mini 2 is the only iPad mini model available with 32GB of storage, a nice alternative for anyone who doesn’t have the cash for a 64GB iPad mini 3.
The original iPad mini does not have a Retina display; its resolution is 1024‑by‑768 resolution at 163 pixels per inch. It has an older and slower A5 processor, and has no support for panoramic photos, camera burst mode, or video zoom. It’s also available only with 16GB of storage. It’s the entry-level, cheap iPad in Apple’s lineup, good for Internet access, ebooks, and casual games.
The MacRumors iPad mini 3 roundup has more details on the differences between the three iPad mini models.
If you want to get the fastest, most current iPad available, pick the iPad Air 2 — it’s a remarkable 87 percent faster than the iPad mini 3 in Geekbench 3 multi-core benchmark, and it’s an impressive 34 percent faster in Geekbench’s single-core benchmark. The iPad Air 2 is Apple’s fastest iPad to date.
Thinking about buying an iPad Air instead, to save a few dollars? You’ll make a performance sacrifice. The iPad Air 2 is 70 percent faster in Geekbench’s multi-core benchmark, and 23 percent faster in Geekbench’s single-core benchmark.
When it comes to the iPad mini 3 and the iPad mini 2, there’s virtually no performance difference because they use the same internals. Geekbench results show that the iPad mini 2 is marginally faster than the iPad mini 3, but we’re talking low single-digit percentage points. There’s no need to consider performance when deciding between the iPad mini 3 and the iPad mini 2.
There’s a huge difference between the iPad mini 3 (and iPad mini 2) and the original iPad mini. You’re going to give up a lot of performance to save some money. In Geekbench’s multi-core benchmark, the iPad mini 3 is nearly four times faster than the iPad mini. In Geekbench’s single-core performance, the iPad mini 3 is well over four times faster than the iPad mini.
So is it worth saving $150 to buy a $249 iPad mini over a $399 iPad mini 3? For anyone on a budget, it’s a compromise that has to be made, but you might want to consider buying a $299 16GB iPad mini 2 instead. For the extra $50, you get the same performance boost as you would if you bought an iPad mini 3, and the only feature you miss out on is Touch ID.
Apple offers several features that you can add to the iPad. They all cost extra, so be prepared to add to the price of the standard configuration model.
Storage: All iPads start with 16GB of storage. The latest iPad models have options to upgrade to 64GB (an extra $100 to the base price) or 128GB (an extra $200 over base) — there’s no 32GB option anymore. If you play a lot of games with detailed graphics or like watching movies and TV shows, consider getting more storage. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself trying to remove storage-hungry apps, removing media files more often than you’d like, and relying on cloud storage (which could be fine if you’re always connected to the Internet).
Cellular connectivity: Speaking of Internet connectivity, if you need to be online most of the time with your iPad, you can’t always depend on a Wi-Fi connection being available. Apple offers cellular iPads that work with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the U.S. and a variety of carriers internationally.
Cellular support adds $130 to the price of all corresponding models, plus you have to sign up for a data plan with each carrier and pay a recurring fee. If you already have a plan, see if it has an option to add an iPad data plan. If you have an iPhone on a service plan that allows mobile hotspots, also consider whether pairing a Wi-Fi iPad with an iPhone will meet your needs. With Instant Hotspot in iOS 8, it’s dead simple to allow an iPad to connect via Wi-Fi to an iPhone and use the phone’s cellular data service as needed.
Available finishes: The iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 are available in gold with a white bezel, silver with a white bezel, and space gray with a black bezel. The iPad Air, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini are available in silver/white and space gray/black. There’s no extra cost for picking the colors of your choice.
AppleCare+: Each new iPad comes with one-year warranty and 90 days of complimentary support. For an extra $99, you can get AppleCare+, which extends the warranty and support to two years and also allows for two incidents of accidental damage coverage (subject to a $49 service fee per incident).
AppleCare+ is a good idea if your new iPad is going to be used by several people, such as by your family or in a classroom. And if you plan to bring your iPad with you while traveling or working on location, the accidental damage coverage is reassuring.
Fortunately, you don’t have to buy AppleCare+ right away. Apple gives you 60 days from the date of purchase to buy AppleCare+. You can buy your new iPad, monitor how it’s being used, and then decide to invest in AppleCare+ if it fits your use case.
As you may or may not know, there are hundreds of different kinds of accessories you can buy with your iPad. These are just a few you might consider when you’re buying your new iPad.
Cases: A case will help protect your investment. Cases are as simple as a protective sleeve, or as complex as a combination case/stand/keyboard. Expect to spend $25 to $150. Apple’s $39 iPad Air and iPad mini Smart Covers use magnets to attach to the iPad and the protective flap folds to do duty as a stand. A more expensive Smart Case ($69 iPad mini, $79 iPad Air) offers better protection and features the same folding cover.
Cables: The iPad comes with a USB to Lightning cable, but you might want to buy an extra one. They’re a little pricey; a 1-meter cable is $19. Cheaper non-Apple Lightning cables are available, but shop carefully, since many cheap cables are not durable, or the may not work properly with your iPad.
Input devices: Since all iPads have Bluetooth, you can use a Bluetooth keyboard ($100 to $200), which is ideal if you want to do a lit of writing. Some keyboards that are designed for the iPad have a built-in iPad stand or an do double duty as a case. If you’re an illustrator, you may want to buy a stylus ($15 to $100), especially one that’s pressure sensitive.
Which iPad should you buy?
It’s easy to recommend the iPad Air 2. It’s fast and lightweight, and the new anti-reflective screen is a vast improvement. It also has features not on the iPad Air, most notably slow-motion video capture, burst camera mode, and Touch ID. The iPad Air seems like an affordable alternative, but the iPad Air 2’s price/performance and features are an excellent package well worth the money.
If you prefer a smaller iPad, you can choose between the iPad mini 3 and the iPad mini 2. The only difference between the two is Touch ID — is a fingerprint sensor really worth the extra money? Touch ID is a convenient feature, but it’s one you can probably live without. Save some money and go with an iPad mini 2. However, if you want 64GB or 128GB of storage, your only choice is the iPad mini 3 unless you can still find one of the higher-capacity iPad mini 2 models on closeout somewhere. The original iPad mini is Apple’s entry-level device at $249 and could be a good iPad dedicated to your kids.
Should you get an iPad mini 3 or 2 if you have an iPhone 6 Plus? The iPhone 6 Plus has a nice, big screen, but the iPad mini’s screen still offers quite a bit more screen real estate. More importantly, the iPad mini will use the iPad version of your apps, while iPhone versions run on the iPhone 6 Plus. iPad apps are designed to take advantage of the bigger screens, so the interfaces are different than iPhone versions, which have interfaces made for smaller screens.
Mockup of 12.9-inch iPad (left) with fourth-generation iPad (right) and iPad mini
If you’re not in a rush to buy a new iPad, you could wait and see if/when Apple releases a 12-inch iPad Pro. Rumor says that the iPad Pro will measure between 12.2 and 12.9 inches, resemble the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, and use the same A8X processor.
Finally, if you want to save a few dollars, check Apple’s refurbished store. Apple installs a new battery and replaces the outer shell on refurbished iPads, and you get the same one-year warranty as you would with a new iPad. The inventory varies greatly, so make sure to check back frequently if the model you want isn’t in stock.
It also takes a few months for new products to begin showing up at all in the refurbished store, and at the time of this writing, Apple had yet to begin offering refurbished versions of the iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3. Since a lot of returns happen after the holidays, there may be and influx of new products in the refurbished store soon.