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4
Feb

Apple’s Beats Music service will be offered on Android


Beats_Music_App_Large_IconAfter acquiring Beats, it wasn’t clear what Apple was going to do with the company or its music service and technology. So far, Apple hasn’t ditched iTunes Radio, and all we’ve seen is Apple promoting Beats apps and headphones. That looks like it’ll change this year with Apple finally unveiling a service to compete with Spotify and Play Music.

The app in question will reportedly use a blend of Beats Music playlist and mood suggestions and personal library building backed by Apple’s enormous iTunes catalog. Users can pick out specific songs to stream, so long as it’s offered by Beats or iTunes, and you’ll be able to add those songs to your digital library like we’ve seen with Spotify and All Access.

The service is still being worked on and we likely won’t see a launch until later this year, and those close to the matter say we’ll probably see a subscription fee of less than 10 dollars, similar to All Access when it launched.

Interestingly, the service will be made available for Android, marking the first time Apple has released any of its software on an Android device. The app will stick to Apple’s design language, so don’t expect Material Design themes, but if you like the aesthetics of Apple’s applications, you’ll likely appreciate this new service.

The app won’t be made available online or on Windows Phone in contrast to what Beats Music offers now, so it looks like it’s going strictly iOS and Android.

Source: 9 to 5 Mac

Come comment on this article: Apple’s Beats Music service will be offered on Android

4
Feb

The casual consumer’s misunderstanding of Android


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Google designed Android to be a simple experience, but if you were new to the platform, you probably wouldn’t know that. When most manufacturers produce a new Android-based smartphone, it’s typically Google’s software buried under a layer of homegrown gunk. This includes pre-loaded applications and a replacement UI often referred to as a “skin.”

Software like Samsung’s TouchWiz and HTC’s Sense are among some of the more popular third-party interfaces used with Android, but there are countless others. And while some of the best Android-powered devices on the market use manufacturer-built software, there’s a nasty consequence that comes with this practice. Due to the popularity of gadgets like Samsung’s Galaxy Note product line and HTC’s One series, some casual tech fans are under the impression that these third-party developed interfaces are coming straight from Google.

Google designed Android to be a simple experience, but if you were new to the platform, you probably wouldn’t know that.

If you’re an Android enthusiast, this might be shocking, but rest assured, it’s true. After years of being a dedicated iPhone user, my uncle recently decided to give Google’s mobile operating system a shot. He ended up buying an LG G3 and while he was impressed by the phone’s potent hardware, its software was a completely different story. He told me it had “too much going on” and asked why Google made it that way? And then it hit me. He actually thought that Google designed LG’s skinned version of Android. After physically showing him the difference between stock Android and third-party UIs, I realized that a high number of casual smartphone and tablet users probably shared the same beliefs.

This is definitely a problem and it could possibly be hurting Android’s progress as a platform. Don’t believe me? Let’s talk about it for a bit.

First Impressions

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Not everyone is a tech expert looking for quad-core processors and extra gigabytes of RAM. Some people simply want an affordable device and often settle for budget-friendly mid-range gear. This already places them at a slight disadvantage when using Android for the first time, because they’re most likely getting a subpar experience with outdated core software. On top of that, if someone buys a handset made by a company like Samsung and doesn’t enjoy TouchWiz; it could quite possibly impact their opinion of Android as a whole.

This issue doesn’t just stop at cheap bargain bin devices either. Third-party UIs also have an impact on high-end gadgets as well. Think about it. How many times has one of your not so tech savvy friends asked you about a new flagship Android phone? If they’re coming from a fairly uniform platform like iOS or even BlackBerry OS, odds are they’ll expect a similar experience. Unfortunately, this is what happened with my uncle and after a few months, it sent him running back to an iPhone.

Why do Android Skins Exist in the First Place?

All launchers compared nexus htc sense UI Touchwz LG UI

Remember, Android is a simple operating system at its core. Google designed it to be open and developer-friendly, so it was literally built to be tinkered with from day one. And with an almost innumerable number of hardware partners across the globe, Android is a highly competitive platform.

Manufacturers often go too far and we end up getting phones and tablets with remarkable hardware, weighed down by clunky software.

In addition to designing devices with unique form factors, equipment manufacturers add homemade software and hardware features to their products in order to stand out. Just imagine the exact same phones being released over and over again every few weeks. A world without third-party UIs would be loaded with this type of cycle. Globally recognized firms such as Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, Motorola and Xiaomi are all competing for relevance in a very crowded space. On paper, the addition of exclusive software is a practical way to offer an improved user experience. Sadly, however, manufacturers often go too far and we end up getting phones and tablets with remarkable hardware, weighed down by clunky software.

A Possible Solution

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Despite the fact that countless mobile devices ship with skinned versions of Android, some companies actually do release products with stock software. However, these handsets and tablets are typically launched under Google’s Nexus product line. When producing new Nexus equipment, Google collaborates with a third-party manufacturer, but oversees the device’s design, development and future support. This often results in faster system updates, superior hardware performance and a reduced software footprint.

Nexus phones and tablets are typically released each year, but sadly they’re almost advertised like any other third-party flagship device, if not less. This could possibly be vanilla Android’s biggest missed opportunity.

In order to help average Joes understand the difference between stock Android and replacement UIs, Google needs to tweak its marketing

In order to help average Joes understand the difference between stock Android and replacement UIs, Google needs to tweak its marketing. The search giant has produced some great ad campaigns over the years, however it really should drive home the fact that its Nexus gear runs pure Android. The company should do all it can to stress that this is the best its mobile operating system has to offer and be sure to let consumers know why. In addition to talking up its in-house software, Google could use this new sales pitch to discuss what its partners bring to the table.

Manufacturer developed software enhancements actually aren’t all bad. In fact, some phones like the Moto X offer a near-stock Android experience paired with a few nifty extras. The idea here isn’t about steering new users towards one direction over another. It’s about helping Joe Q. Public understand the advantages that come with using Android and how the platform has an almost limitless number of possibilities.

Final Thoughts

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Google’s mobile OS may have the biggest slice of the smartphone pie, but there’s always room for improvement. While most hardcore tech enthusiasts consider third-party Android UIs an abomination, these sentiments actually only come from a small group of purists. Like my uncle, most consumers don’t even know what version of Android their smartphone is running, let alone if it’s stock or not.

A possible remedy for this situation could be Google releasing multiple Nexus devices throughout the year, or the company working with its partners to produce more hardware loaded with stock software. Until then, the folks in Mountain View will have to settle for a large number of potential customers thinking all Android-powered devices run TouchWiz or Sense.

 

 



4
Feb

Verizon Announces New Promotions Beginning Thursday, Feb 5



Verizon has announced a few new promotions in a press release providing a way for new and existing customers to save and experience the More Everything plans.

Promotion #1: Starting on Thursday, 5 February, 2015 for customers that currently have 1GB to 3GB of data on their plans, an additional 1GB of data will be added for the same price. Verizon will offer a new data plan of 6GB for $70.

Promotion #2: For customers choosing the 6GB data plan or higher, they are eligible to add smartphones on Verizon Edge for $15/month with a $25 discount per line. In other words, with a Verizon Edge plan that has two smartphones and 6GB of data would be $100.

Promotion #3: For a limited time, for any new customers that switch and port their number over from another carrier will receive a one-time credit of $100 per line. New customers must activate their new Verizon smartphone with the Edge program.

Finally, Verizon is also announcing the option to add 12GB, 14GB, and 16GB to its plan for those who eat up a lot of data. It’s great for those that constantly stream movies, videos, sports, and share large files.

Source – VerizonWireless



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4
Feb

Universal Pictures to Release Steve Jobs Movie on October 9 [Mac Blog]


Universal Pictures will release the long-anticipated Steve Jobs movie on October 9, according to CNBC. The upcoming biopic, based on Walter Isaacson’s official biography of the late Apple co-founder, is directed by Danny Boyle and stars Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs and Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak. Universal took over the film in November.

stevejobsbiopicset
The filming of the movie began last month in the garage of Steve Jobs’ childhood home, and will reportedly also take place at two auditoriums and a restaurant in the area. The movie will be focused upon three main scenes, including the unveiling of the NeXT computer, the debut of the original iMac, and the introduction of the iPod.



4
Feb

You can see Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs in theaters on Oct. 9


Universal Pictures will release the long-awaited biopic on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in theaters on October 9. Filming for the movie, which stars Michael Fassbender as Jobs, began earlier this year.

The movie will apparently have the very simple title of Steve Jobs. It’s based on Walter Isaacson’s acclaimed 2011 biography,with a script written by Aaron Sorkin. The film is being directed by Danny Boyle. Seth Rogen will play Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Kate Winslet will portray former Macintosh marketing chief Joanna Hoffman and Jeff Daniels will play former Apple CEO John Sculley.

The fall time frame is usually when major studios launch films that they think will be nominated for Academy Awards, so it’s look like Universal thinks Steve Jobs has a shot at some Oscars. It will have to compete with a number of other films that are already scheduled for release that same day, including the upcoming reboot of the Vacation comedy series.

Source: Deadline

4
Feb

New Xiaomi flagship with an edge-to-edge display spotted in a leak


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Xiaomi only recently unveiled the Mi Note and the Mi Note Pro smartphones at a dedicated event in China. New leaks are now suggesting that the company might have another flagship in the making, probably acting as a successor to the Mi4 handset which was unveiled in September 2014.

We can see the front portion of the handset in its entirety here, in what seems to be an edge-to-edge display with barely any side bezels. It also has a set of capacitive action keys on the bottom bezel, which we’ve seen on almost every Xiaomi handset so far.

xiaomimi5

The leak doesn’t shed light on other hardware aspects of the smartphone, so it seems like we’ll have to wait a bit to find out. Given that the MWC event is scheduled for next month, we can expect the company to unveil this handset then. What do you think?

xiaomimi5-3

Source: The Android Soul
Via: Phone Arena

Come comment on this article: New Xiaomi flagship with an edge-to-edge display spotted in a leak

4
Feb

Apple’s Beats-based music streaming service will reportedly launch on Android


apple beats

Less than a year after Apple bought Beats, the company has supposedly began revamping the popular Beats Music streaming service. That’s no huge surprise, given the existing Beats Music app was developed independently before the big acquisition. But in a new report from 9to5Mac from earlier today, Apple has plans to bring the newly-designed music service to Android.

The Apple-designed music service is set to compete with other popular music streaming services like Spotify and Rdio, and will be based heavily on cloud streaming. At least on Apple products, the new service will allow you to search for anything within the iTunes/Beats catalog, and users will be able to stream music from their personal catalogs and add songs to their personal libraries. Apple has been rumored to launch the service for less than most other streaming competitors, which will likely be $5 per month.

The Beats Music app has been available in the Google Play Store for quite some time now, but that application was developed before the big acquisition. Diverging from former CEO Steve Jobs’ stance, Tim Cook doesn’t have a problem with developing for Android, as long as it makes sense for the company to do so. Given Android’s worldwide marketshare compared to Apple’s, if the company wants to create a truly competitive music service, Android support should be a no-brainer.

There’s no clear timeframe as to when the service will launch on either iOS or Android. Rumors surfaced that the service was slated for a March 2015 release, though 9to5Mac‘s connections seem to think that the service will be unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference this June.

As for now, we need to remember that these are just rumors. We’ll let you know if we hear anything in the future regarding the music streaming service. From what we know so far, what do you think? Would you be on board with an Apple-designed Beats music service? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.



4
Feb

Five tips for beating bad lighting in your iPhone photos


The sun may give us light and life and all good things, but it’s around precious few hours when you want to spend time taking good photographs. Indoor and artificial lighting can aid you from shooting in the dark, but, well… not all indoor lighting is created equally. Traditional tungsten bulbs can cause horrible yellow tints; fluorescents can make your photo too blue; and LEDs can make everything look washed out and pale. If you’ve ever found yourself in a tricky lighting spot as a photographer and want a few aces up your sleeve for dealing with it, read on.

1. Adjust your angle (or your subject)

Whether outdoors or indoors, the image your camera sees isn’t necessarily always the image you want to end up with. Your subject could be standing in front of the sun or a lamp, backlit; you could be accidentally including the light source in the frame and getting terrible lens flares; or you could have just tapped-to-expose on the wrong aspect of your image.

Whatever the case, you can solve a lot of these lighting conundrums by movement. You can ask your subject to move, so that they’re no longer backlit, or you can adjust the angle of your image to shoot them from a different side. You can reframe the photo to exclude the light source from the image. Or you can refocus the image on the darker area of the photograph by tapping and holding on the viewfinder while in the default camera app.

2. Use HDR

If you insist on shooting a backlit picture — maybe there’s an exquisite sunset you want to capture — you can use Apple’s HDR feature to try and balance out the exposures between your subject and your background. Just open the Camera app and tap the HDR button, then select On.

HDR not quite giving you the result you want? You can also do this the old-fashioned way by taking multiple images and splicing them together using an image editor. To do this properly, however, I’d suggest using a tripod or other camera stabilization device for your iPhone; otherwise it can be much harder to match the two images.

To do this, take one photo while focused and exposed on the background, then take a second photo while focused and exposed on your subject. In a photo editor, bring both photos into a single document with the subject layer on top of the focus later; erase the background on the subject layer, and you’ll have your photo.

3. Use a manual camera app

Sometimes the default Camera app just isn’t cutting it for low-light pictures — and that’s okay. You can always mess around with the app’s Exposure slider and lock focus, but if those tools aren’t doing what you want them to, it might be time to pick up a third-party manual camera app. Elsewhere on iMore, Ally recommended a whole mess of great apps for this purpose, but I’m partial to Manual; the app lets you set both ISO and shutter speed, which can help boost light levels in your photographs.

In the photos above, the image on the right was taken with Manual using 1/640 shutter speed and ISO 240.

4. Bring your own lighting

If the sun isn’t cooperating and existing artificial lighting just isn’t up to snuff, it’s time to think about packing an external flash or lighting source. You can make do with DIY versions of this — white paper and tinfoil will bounce some light onto your subject’s face, and you can juryrig a flashlight to brighten up your picture — but the best tools are the ones built for your iPhone.

I’ve heard great things about (though haven’t personally used) the Nova Off-Camera Wireless Flash, a $59 Bluetooth-based LED remote Flash that provides ambient off-camera lighting for your images. Photojojo also offers a $15 Pocket Reflector to bounce ambient light and a $30 Pocket Spotlight which connects to your headphone jack and provides constant LED lighting on your subject.

5. Kill it with filters!

There are going to be times when, no matter what you try, you won’t be able to get good lighting for your shot. But it’s not the end of the world: That’s what post-production is for, especially if you’re planning to only use the image for social media sharing rather than for printing and hanging.

To boost colors and lighting, you can use iOS’s built-in editor or a third-party extension. Our ultimate guide to the Photos app offers a lot of great tips on adjusting color, exposure, and light within Apple’s default app; on the third-party side, I’m particularly fond of Afterlight, though there are many photo-editing extensions available for download.

My usual trick involves boosting the image with brightness, exposure, and highlights; lowering contrast and shadows; then applying a filter and re-adjusting contrast accordingly. (I usually drop contrast, apply a filter, then raise contrast again to make the blacks in an image pop.)

Your tips?

Do you have any great suggestions for getting good lighting from bad? Sound off in the comments.

4
Feb

Get an iPhone, iPad and service for both from Sprint starting at just $100 a month


Sprint is launching a new bundle promotion that will allow buyers to get both an iPhone and iPad for one monthly contract price. The starting price for the limited time offer is $100 a month for the 16GB iPhone 6 and the 16GB iPad Mini 3.

CNET reports on the specifics this new promotional offer, which ends on April 9:

Breaking down the monthly cost of the bundle promotion, customers will pay $20 for the iPhone for Life program and $50 for a Simply Unlimited talk, text and data plan for the phone. A separate 2 gigabyte data plan for $30 will be needed for the tablet, though the $17 monthly fee for the iPad Mini 3 is cut out as part of the promotion.

Wireless Week adds that Sprint customers can also bundle the iPhone 6 Plus with the iPad Air 2 with a similar promotional offer, but the monthly fee will be higher. At the moment the deal doesn’t appear to be live but we will update this post when it is available.

Source: CNET, Wireless Week

4
Feb

14 more banks jump on the Apple Pay bandwagon


Apple Pay has signed up another 14 banks to support the contactless transactions system build into the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The addition of new banks, which include Ohio-based Fifth Third Bank with more than six million customers and two million at INOVA Federal Credit Union, bring the total number of banks offering Apple Pay support to 54.

Here’s the full list of banks that picked up Apple Pay support today:

  • Alliant Credit Union
  • Altra Federal Credit Union
  • Andrews Federal Credit Union
  • BBVA Compass
  • BECU (Boeing Employees’ Credit Union)
  • Ent Federal Credit Union
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • First Niagara Bank
  • First Tech Federal Credit Union
  • Golden 1 Credit Union
  • INOVA Federal Credit Union
  • Savings Bank of Danbury
  • Star One Credit Union
  • Uwharrie Bank

Source: Apple; Via: 9to5Mac

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