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21
Sep

The new Apple TV works with your wireless headphones


The new Apple TV

The new Apple TV is still weeks away from launch, but that isn’t stopping a few people from getting their hands on it… and discovering a few pleasant surprises in the process. Dom Esposito at 9to5Mac has learned that the device’s improved Bluetooth support extends not just to the controller, but to audio equipment like headphones. Yes, much like on the Fire TV or Roku 3, you can watch movies late at night without waking your housemates or connecting your headphones to another device. If that’s not an option, you’ll still have access to a “night mode” that turns down the volume for everything but speech.

As for other tidbits? There isn’t a whole lot to know beyond what what we got to try earlier in September, although it’s notable that the Apple TV will regularly download new video screensavers to keep things fresh. The one certainty from this early look is that Apple has addressed many of the gripes with previous-gen hardware, including the addition of smaller but nice-to-have features that you might have missed.

Source: 9to5Mac

21
Sep

Lumia 550 leak hints at the future of low-cost Windows phones


Microsoft's Lumia 550

Sure, you may have an idea of what high-end Windows 10 phones will be like, but what about the cheap-and-cheerful models that people are more likely to buy? You might not have to wonder any longer. Both OneTile and WMPoweruser claim to have images and details of the Lumia 550, Microsoft’s first entry-level Windows 10 handset. The looks are nothing special (surprise, it’s a basic phone!), but it reportedly packs a little more punch than many starter devices between its 4.7-inch 720p screen and speedy LTE data. The rumored Snapdragon 210 processor, 8GB of expandable storage, 5-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front cam are par for the course, but you’d also shell out just $120 — a bargain when Motorola’s Moto E has a less impressive 960 x 540 screen and a mediocre 0.3-megapixel front shooter. As such, you may have something to look forward to at Microsoft’s October 6th event if you’re more interested in value for money than raw performance.

Source: OneTile (translated), WMPoweruser

21
Sep

Apple Ends Launch Day Online Pre-Orders and In-Store Reservations for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus


With four days to go until the launch of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, Apple is no longer offering launch-day delivery of any iPhone 6s or 6s Plus models ordered online and is no longer allowing customers to make reservations for in-store purchases, including through Apple’s new iPhone Upgrade Program, on Friday.

iphone_6s_1_2_weeks
While shipping estimates for iPhones 6s Plus models in particular quickly slipped to 2-3 weeks or longer following the start of pre-orders on September 12, many iPhone 6s models remained available for launch day delivery until today.

Customers looking to place online pre-orders for iPhone 6s models that had until recently remained available for launch day are now being quoted 1-2 week shipping with delivery in the range of September 29 through October 6 or later.

iphone_6s_reservations_down
Apple’s in-store reservation system has been shut down entirely for the remainder of this week and will reopen at 8:00 AM on Saturday, September 26 to allow customers to reserve from each store’s daily shipments of iPhones. Apple does still invite customers without reservations on Friday to attempt to purchase an iPhone, but unreserved supplies will likely be tight and lines long.


21
Sep

Apple Car Development Speeds Up, 2019 Launch Date Targeted


Apple is speeding up development on its electric car project, reports The Wall Street Journal, giving it a “committed project” label and targeting 2019 as a prospective shipping date. To facilitate a faster launch, Apple will be greatly expanding the number of people working on the car.

The go-ahead came after the company spent more than a year investigating the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, including meetings with two groups of government officials in California. Leaders of the project, code-named Titan , have been given permission to triple the 600-person team, the people familiar with the matter said.

Apple has already been aggressively hiring for its car project, poaching employees from companies like Ford, General Motors, Tesla, Volkswagen, and more. Many of its recent hires have expertise in connected and autonomous vehicle systems.

bmwi3The BMW i3, which Apple reportedly considered using as a base for the Apple Car
Though there have been indications suggesting Apple is exploring autonomous vehicles as part of its car project, The Wall Street Journal‘s sources say the first car Apple releases will not be driverless, with that functionality perhaps coming at a later date.

There have been also other signs pointing towards expanded work on the car project. In May, Apple began looking into secure facilities in the Bay Area where a prototype could be tested, reportedly meeting up with officials at GoMentum Station, a secure test facility for connected and autonomous vehicles. Apple also met with DMV officials in August to discuss California’s autonomous vehicle regulations.

It remains unclear if Apple will develop its “Apple Car” from the ground up or if it will team up with an existing auto manufacturer. Rumors have suggested Apple has held discussions with BMW over a potential partnership that would see the BMW i3 used as the basis for the Apple Car, but those talks have reportedly not progressed into a deal.

The Wall Street Journal warns that Apple’s 2019 target date might not be the date in which Apple will actually ship the car, instead suggesting it could point towards the date that engineers confirm the main features of the product. It’s also possible that given the scope of the project there could be delays, with “people familiar with the project” expressing skepticism that 2019 is a reasonable target date.

In an interview with Stephen Colbert last week, Tim Cook was asked about the car project, but he unsurprisingly avoided the question with a vague statement. “We look at a number of things along the way, and we decide to really put our energies on a few of those,” he said.


21
Sep

Omate’s new TrueSmart+ is a standalone wearable that runs Android 5.1 Lollipop


Omate TrueSmart Plus AA

Omate probably isn’t the first brand you think of when talking about wearables, but the company’s TrueSmart smartwatch has seen some pretty big success over the years. The company is now planning on releasing a followup to the TrueSmart, which will bring some much-needed improvements to the wearable.

The Omate TrueSmart+ doesn’t run Android Wear, rather a full version of Android 5.1 Lollipop with Omate’s OUI 3.0 software overlay. Omate says you’ll be able to run full versions of Android apps on the watch. As for the hardware, the TrueSmart+ features a 1.54-inch TFT LCD display with a resolution of 320 x 320, a 1GHz MediaTek MT6572M processor with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of on-board storage and a 700mAh battery. There’s also a Bosch BHI160 sensor present on the device that should provide very low power consumption, especially when it comes to always-on applications like fitness tracking and step counting.

Part of the draw to the TrueSmart+ is its ability to be used as a standalone watch. It can use any Micro SIM card that’s compatible with a GSM network. This means you’ll also be able to accept phone calls, reply to text messages and more without being connected to your smartphone. The rubber straps on the watch house the device’s Wi-Fi, 2G, 3G and GPS antennas. According to our sources close to the matter, the TrueSmart+ also comes with an improved Ocharger that’s compatible with both the TrueSmart+ and original TrueSmart.

Omate is also launching another smartwatch called the TrueSmart-i, which will feature a 1.54-inch display with a resolution of 240 x 240, a built-in 5MP camera that’s capable of recording 720p video, and Android 4.4 KitKat.

You can pre-order both of these watches from Omate’s website from September 22nd to October 31st. The TrueSmart+ will be available for $169 and will ship in November, while the TrueSmart-i will cost $149 and will ship this October. We’re expecting to hear an official announcement from Omate sometime this week, so we’ll be sure to let you know if more information surfaces in the coming days.

21
Sep

Apple releases watchOS 2 to put apps directly on your wrist


It’s arriving a few days later than originally anticipated, but the first big Apple Watch software upgrade is here. As we heard during the big iPhone event a couple of weeks ago, watchOS 2 lets third-party developers create apps that run directly on the device itself, without relying on a connected phone. That means they have access to sensors embedded within the Watch itself, and they should be faster and easier to interact with. Some have compared this change to the introduction of the App Store on iOS in 2008, but we’ll have to see what developers use it for first. Other changes include new customizable Watch faces with Photo, Photo Album and Time-Lapse, plus upgraded Apple Pay and Siri integration. It also has Activation Lock, so if someone steals your Watch they can’t just reset it or easily access your data. One thing you’ll still need your iPhone for is to actually get the update — owners can check Software Update under the Watch app to start the download now.

Source: Apple

21
Sep

The making of FiftyThree’s beloved Paper app for the iPhone


By John Paul Titlow

This article originally appeared on Fast Company and is reprinted with permission.

FiftyThree could have launched its new iPhone app three years ago and quickly amassed millions of users. But the New York-based company decided to take the scenic, more thoughtful route. Instead of shrinking down Paper—the sketching app chosen by Apple as its iPad App of the Year in 2012—and cramming it onto the iPhone, they reinvented it entirely. That process, as you might imagine, posed no shortage of challenges amidst what CEO and cofounder Georg Petschnigg says were the “thousands of decisions” that needed to be made. No wonder it took so damn long.Slideshow-322271

“There are super feature-heavy products,” says Petschnigg. “And then there are super-pared-down, simple products. We felt there wasn’t a good balance in between. We wanted something that’s simple, fast, and beautiful.”

Paper’s iPhone app, which finally launched last week, does feature the familiar functionality of its tablet-based predecessor: ultra-smooth digital sketching, painting, and coloring tools packed into a delightful-to-use, thoughtfully designed interface. But it also takes a step back and considers how people prefer to capture ideas using their smartphones, as opposed to tablets. The resulting app combines drawing and diagramming tools with photo capture, and then layers on text entry that dares to rethink how people have worked with words on screens for decades.

If that sounds audacious, it’s worth remembering the company’s roots: Petschnigg and FiftyThree’s three cofounders came from Microsoft, where they worked on products like PowerPoint, Word, and OneNote, and helped reimagine the ubiquitous Office suite of productivity software for tablets. After launching its inaugural iPad app to massive fanfare in 2012, FiftyThree has gone on to ship a stylus (whose name was recently, uh, borrowed by Apple), launch a sketch-sharing community called Mix, and even bridge the analog-digital divide with Book, a print-on-demand Moleskin notebook of your Paper-produced sketches. Along the way, they’ve raised $45.1 million in three rounds of funding from well-known investors.

So wait. With all that tech industry street cred, why not just push an iPhonified version of the Paper app out the door?

“Three years ago, a phone product would have been a small version of Paper,” says Petschnigg. “We ran it. And we were like, ‘That’s cute.’ But it wasn’t the right thing.” Instead, Petschnigg and his team wanted something that considered not just the disparity in screen size, but the wildly different contexts in which people use these devices: Tablets are lean-back-and-relax gadgets that we usually leave at home. Our phones are always with us, always connected. And they’re already being used to take notes and capture ideas—Paper’s iPhone app didn’t want to be a mini-sketching app, but rather what the team likes to refer to as an “idea processor.”

“We realized, whoa, we’re not where people are developing their ideas,” Petschnigg says. “We must figure out how the phone fits into this. How can the phone become a creative tool?”

To do Paper’s mission justice on the iPhone, the team would have to rethink the entire concept, investors and impatient users be damned.

“At that point, we knew we were opening the entire patient again,” says Petschnigg. “That’s uncomfortable because it means the development timeline could be longer. It means there’s a lot of risk that’s being introduced. People can perceive the product very differently. You already knew there were thousands of decisions you had to make. Now there are even more.”

To get a better idea of how people already use their phones to record ideas and other notes, FiftyThree used a platform called Ask Your Target Market to quickly conduct market research into people’s mobile note-taking behaviors by polling thousands of smartphone users. As it turned out, most people record reminders and ideas on their phones using photos and other images. “That’s a huge behavior change,” says Petschnigg, who recalls the days of working closely with the OneNote team at Microsoft, which focused almost entirely on text input.

Armed with this insight, the team decided to make their first major departure from Paper’s beloved tablet interface: Paper for iPhone would bring the camera front and center (literally, it’s right in the middle of the app’s three-option navigation), making it dead simple to take photos, highlight important parts, and annotate them using Paper’s virtual drawing and coloring tools.

Rethinking Text

When we’re not making note of things by snapping photos with our phones, we’re launching an app like Apple’s virtual notepad or Evernote to tap them out the old fashioned way: with words. To account for this, the FiftyThree team decided to incorporate text into its new app in a prominent way. The only question—a huge one—was how. They wanted to let users format text, for instance, without turning Paper into a full-blown word processor littered with buttons and drop-down menus. The coders on the team pushed for Markdown, the text formatting schema popular with many developers and bloggers. But was that too geeky? Designers played with different layout options and type treatments. Paper’s approach to text input and formatting soon became a topic of internal debate.

“My contribution to that was that I kept my mouth shut,” says Petschnigg, who was eager to ship a long-overdue product and placate impatient investors. “Let’s please just get two lines of text in there!”

Finally, a breakthrough happened. Ian Curry, a visual designer at FiftyThree, blurted out: “Why don’t we visually format the text?” After some back and forth, the team settled on what they now call swipe-to-style, a way of formatting text using gestures instead of interface buttons. Over the next 48 hours, a developer coded up a prototype called Text Trial, an internal app that would allow them to test out different methods of formatting text with touch gestures. The possibilities here were practically endless: You could rotate your fingers to change the typeface, swipe this way or that to make text bold, italicized, or underlined.

In the interest of simplicity, the team finally settled on two key gestures: Swipe left to turn a line of text into a bold subheading. Right to turn it into a bulleted list item. Reasoning that the most popular use case for text entry would be the creation of shopping lists and other to-do lists, they chose these two gestures to start with. Users can also hold their finger down on an item to “grab” it and change the order of the list, eliminating the need for traditional (and far more tedious on a touchscreen) copy-and-paste functionality. Other gestural formatting, they figured, could come in time, once people were used to the new gestural formatting paradigm. It is, after all, an admittedly ballsy move to tinker with how people have worked with text since the dawn of personal computing.

“If you know how something works, you need to present something that’s 10 times better because people will be like, ‘Hey, why are you making me learn something new?’” Petschnigg explains. Adding functionality that requires users to relearn behaviors is a tall order, not just because it asks the user to do something new, but because it forces the product to interject new points of friction up front, usually by adding some kind of explanatory onboarding process. User experience designers know that even the most innocuous-seeming extra step can turn off some users, who may close the app and never return. “We decided to take the risk on swipe-to-style,” Petschnigg says.

When Moving Forward Means Axing Features

Porting an app like Paper from tablets to a smaller form factor is as much about axing features as it is about adding them. In this case, the team was forced to reconsider some popular elements of its interface, a bold move when your app has piled up the accolades that Paper has.

On the iPad, Paper relied on the skeuomorphic notebook-style interface, wherein each collection of drawings quite literally resembles a digital Moleskin. But on the iPhone, which is smaller than a standard notebook, this paradigm didn’t make as much sense. Instead, it uses the sticky note for what Petschnigg calls the app’s “spiritual guiding post.” Indeed, using Paper for iPhone feels very much like using some kind of newfangled, digital sticky note with photos and state-of-the-art doodling tools built right in. In the new version of the app, notes are stored in stacks instead of in virtual notebooks. This new interface worked so well on iPhone that they decided to use it on the iPad as well.

“We literally tore up the book,” says Petschnigg. “We just removed one of our signature UI elements.”

While some users will be sad to see the virtual notebook concept get tossed, others will appreciate that its death is simply a casualty of the sometimes messy evolutionary process of product development.

We’re not lean startup people. But we’re also not chubby. We really just want to get it right.

In other cases, the team was forced to ax features before they even saw the light of day. At one point, a multifinger twisting gesture was used to “rewind” to the previous state—a modern, multitouch take on the”undo” button. Clever as this was, it didn’t meet one of the team’s user experience requirements for the smartphone version of Paper: Every key action should be possible with one hand. It’s for this reason that the main navigation controls were moved to the bottom of the interface (the bigger iPhones require too far of a stretch for one’s thumb to reach the top of the screen). On that navigation bar, you’ll notice that one of the buttons features an old-school “rewind” button. That’s the “undo” function that the team had to settle on after scrapping the original gesture. “I’m still sad about the fact that rewind is not in the product as it used to be,” says Petschnigg.

“Sometimes we work on things for two or three months and then we have to throw it away,” says Petschnigg. “And that’s okay. It’s better that we did that because it allowed us to hone in on the other solution.”

How FiftyThree Tests And Prototypes

As you might guess, FiftyThree’s product development process is packed with with extensive sketching, prototyping, and testing. From whiteboards and paper sketches to digital renderings and one-off prototype apps developed in-house (the Text Trial app used to refine Paper’s text formatting features is just one example), no tool is off-limits when it comes to prototyping and mocking things up. At FiftyThree, prototyping is an intensive, cross-discipline process that relies heavily on tools like Interface Builder and Scout, the prototyping engine used by the team’s designers, coders, and product managers.

“You want to use different tools,” says Petschnigg. “You want to talk to many people. That’s why we started this company in New York City. It’s much easier to have a diverse set of customers around you here.”

That diverse, decidedly non-Silicon Valley population came in handy as the product started to get more polished and ready for real-world beta testing. In addition to in-the-flesh app testers, the team relied on a service called UserTesting.com, which automates and distributes the process of conducting usability tests for apps and websites. It was through this process that they learned which details still needed some polish. The instructional onboarding video, added to help users get the hang of Paper’s new text formatting features, was confusing some users because it lacked audio. In trial after trial, beta testers would try to adjust their phone’s volume when the video started playing. So they added some ambient-sounding music to the onboarding videos. A tiny detail, but one that’s very easy to miss without a rigorous testing process.

“We’re not lean startup people,” says Petschnigg. ” But we’re also not chubby. We really just want to get it right.”

[Photos & Illustrations: courtesy of Fifty-Three]

21
Sep

Chromecast Audio to WiFi-enable your speakers, codenamed “Hendrix”


A few days ago we got a glimpse at what the new Chromecast will offer.  It is expected to drop at Google’s Sept. 29th event, along with the highly-anticipated pair of Nexus phones.  Now we have some more info on the Chromecast Audio part of that launch, which is allegedly codenamed “Hendrix” within Google.

To recap, Chromecast Audio is said to be a separate Chromecast device, specifically aimed to set your home speakers free.  This means that it will plug into your audio setup and wirelessly connect to your WiFi router.

chromecast_audio

This will allow you to remotely control the speaker through your smartphone or tablet.  If this kind of thing sounds familiar to you, you may be remembering the Moto Stream.  But Google may feel like they should do to speakers what they’ve done to TV’s.  And it should be competitively priced.

The Chromecast Audio should have multi-room support, so you can utilize every speaker in the house to raise the roof.  Communication via WiFi means you can have them rock out with the same track in unison.  However, to do this, it is assumed you would need a Chromecast Audio for each speaker.

The Chromecast Audio will mirror the audio from your Chrome browser or Android device.  If you’re worried that this operation will sacrifice precious bytes of music data, Google is said to be focusing on “high-quality” audio for the device.

We should know the full scoop next week, stay tuned!  Do you like this audio extension to the Chromecast portfolio?

Source: 9to5google

The post Chromecast Audio to WiFi-enable your speakers, codenamed “Hendrix” appeared first on AndroidGuys.

21
Sep

Moto X Pure Edition first takes: Upgraded all around


I have always enjoyed Motorola phones, I’ve just never really got any hands-on time with any of them. I remember when the Razr first came out, and it was the first phone that I truly really wanted. Then came the Droid series, which were by far the best Android phones at the time, the problem was that I was on T-Mobile, and still am.

Fast forward a few years and I finally decided to purchase my first Motorola device, the Nexus 6. While it was made by Motorola, it didn’t include all the features a standard Motorola phone would. Nonetheless, my Nexus 6 was my favorite phone to date, and still might be. The design style is still my favorite. Motorola made a phone with a 6 inch display manageable to hold. Now that’s an accomplishment.

The Moto X devices always intrigued me, but they always lacked in the specification department. The original Moto X only had a 4.7 inch screen, 720p resolution, the Snapdragon S4, all powered by a small 2,200 mAh battery. The Moto X (2014) made serious improvements, like upgrading to a 1080p AMOLED display that was 5.2 inches diagonally. the timeless Snapdragon 801 processor, but still only upped the battery to 2,300 mAh.

Enter Moto X Pure Edition.

Moto X Pure Edition box

When Motorola announced the Moto X Pure Edition, they caught my attention 100%. Not only did they make the device more affordable by starting it at $399.99 completely unlocked, but they upgraded the device in EVERY single category. It ships with 3 GB of RAM, Snapdragon 808 processor, 21 megapixel rear-facing camera, and a nice sized 3,000 mAh battery.

I have been using this device since I received it this past Friday (3 days), and I am nothing short of impressed. The device is already my favorite device of 2015, and I have used the HTC One M9, Galaxy S6/S6 edge, LG G4, OnePlus 2, and the Galaxy Note 5/S6 edge+. That is definitely saying something.

Even though it doesn’t have the highest end specs, it functions just fine. Some companies put too much thought into packing the device to the gills with high-end hardware, but the device doesn’t function as well (OnePlus). I think Motorola made an excellent choice going with the Snapdragon 808 in the Moto X. I liked the performance a lot in my G4, so I haven’t had any complaints. In my experience, the Snapdragon 808 also gets much better battery life than the power-hungry Snapdragon 810. Hell, I’m even getting battery life on my Moto X than I was on my Note 5 with the super efficient Exynos 7420 (both have 3,000 mAh batteries). That points back to the hardware: it’s worthless without the right software.

Not only does the device outperform other flagships in 2015, I also think it looks better. Like I said earlier, I loved the Nexus 6 design, even with the massive display. The Moto X Pure Edition is shaped very similar, but is much easier to hold. I think Motorola hit the sweet spot with the 5.7 inch display. That is one reason why I like the Note series so much, but Samsung devices are somewhat hard to hold, especially now that they are glass and metal.

To compare the design of the Moto X to the Note 5, they have the same sized displays and nearly the same dimensions (height and width), but the Moto X is a lot easier to hold. Add on to it the rubberized back that comes on the default model, and it is the most comfortable device to hold on the market. I like it even more than the G4, and that is a device that is slightly smaller.

Motorola definitely hits the nail on the head with balancing a large device with making it manageable to hold. The edges are flat enough that they are easy to grip, but it also rolls off to the back to make it comfortable to hold. Couple that with the rubberized back and it is the best device to hold in 2015 by far. It’s amazing how much curves can help how easy it is to hold.

Like I stated earlier, the Nexus 6 was and still is one of my favorite devices of all time. So naturally, the Moto X fits right in, but it brings the Motorola features that the Nexus 6 left out. Having used the Moto X Display for just a few days, I must say it is the most convenient thing that I have used on a smartphone. I love being able to pull the phone out of my pocket, having it “breath”, and showing me if I have any notifications. Not only that, but being able to check what messages and notifications say without unlocking the device is more convenient than tap to wake. I thought I would miss tap to wake on the Moto X coming from the G4/OnePlus 2, but Moto X Display is way better.

Overall, I am very impressed and quite pleased with the Moto X Pure Edition. I am gladly using it over my Note 5 and getting better battery life and no noticeable performance drop off. The camera is definitely an improvement from the Nexus 6. The 21 megapixel camera is a large upgrade to the 13 megapixel on the N6. Another category that has vastly improved is the front-facing speakers. They are much louder and crisper than I’ve heard in the past as well. The display is very clear, but I am a little bummed it isn’t AMOLED. It isn’t a big deal, but it’s just something to note.

The post Moto X Pure Edition first takes: Upgraded all around appeared first on AndroidGuys.

21
Sep

Coocheer CH-080 Bluetooth speaker review


20150921_121934Coocheer is well-known for making great speakers, chargers, and headphones, and the CH-080 Bluetooth speaker is most definitely no exception. From its simple, matte design to its quality sound, the CH-080 packs quite a punch. Let’s see what makes it tick.

Design

71cIqolhaHL._SL1500_Coocheer didn’t aim for flashiness or complexity with this speaker, which is actually a nice change of pace. The soft-touch matte plastic wrapped around the speaker give it a premium feel without the premium price tag. The only button on the entire device comes in the form of a large round dial which sports a colored LED ring around its base. Other than a 3.5mm audio jack, microUSB charging port, and an On/Off switch all lined up on one side, the CH-080 is left largely untouched by extra, unnecessary buttons. There’s a single microphone on the opposite side (right below the Coocheer logo in the photo above) as well, so you can use the speaker for voice commands and the occasional phone call.

It weighs in at just over one pound, so it still falls into the realm of a portable Bluetooth speaker. Its footprint isn’t very large, which means it should fit into most backpacks or messenger bags without any real issue. Unfortunately, Coocheer only offers the speaker in black (I would have loved to see a white or even a blue version).

Usage

61wcGCSLhqL._SL1500_As a Bluetooth speaker, the CH-080 works very well. It connects quickly and without any hassle, and I never experienced any stutter, song lag, or disconnections. Coocheer built this speaker with Bluetooth 3.0, which isn’t the latest standard, but it holds its own when playing music and taking calls. It also packs NFC, something we’ve seen in more and more Bluetooth speakers as of late.

If connecting through your phone/tablet’s Bluetooth settings fails (not very likely, as mentioned), you can (theoretically) always hold your device against the speaker to initiate the connection. In practice, I can’t say that the NFC in this case is very reliable. Try as I might, I could only get my Galaxy S6 to pick up the NFC from the speaker once or twice. I also tried a Moto X Pure Edition, with the same results. This is after dozens of attempts and a considerable amount of time pressing my phone against every inch of the speaker just to find the sweet spot. I appreciate that Coocheer included NFC as a connection option, but if it isn’t reliable, it’s almost useless to the average user.

20150921_121137Coocheer’s large dial in the center of the speaker (naturally) controls the volume, but the designers baked a little extra functionality into the dial, which doubles as a button. A single press serves as a pause/play function, but if you hold the button for three seconds, the LED ring will flash, indicating that the speaker has entered what Coocheer calls “Song Control Status.” This is essentially a mode in which turning the dial changes the song rather than the volume. It works exactly as you’d expect: enter Song Control Status mode, turn clockwise to skip to the next song and counterclockwise to return to the previous song. This may seem like a simple addition, but it is extremely useful when your phone or tablet is far away and you just want to change the song. Coocheer found a way to make this feature useful, without making it too complicated or adding extra buttons. Simplicity goes a long way with this speaker, something that users are sure to appreciate.

The inclusion of an LED ring around the base of the dial adds just the right amount of pizzazz to an otherwise blank slate of a speaker. The ring stays a light blue color, and turns a brighter shade of purple when the speaker is charging. When entering “Song Control Status” mode, the blue ring will flash. Other than that, the light remains on as long as the speaker is on. Coocheer didn’t include any way to turn off the LED, but it isn’t obtrusive enough to really be a bother anyway.

Performance & Sound

Coocheer’s speaker sounds great; there is no other way to describe it. Strong lows and accurate mid-range sound comes almost seamlessly from the speaker. The distribution of sound is fantastic, thanks to the CH-080 sporting two speakers that flank the dial in the center. Coocheer built the speaker with “Bass Enhance Technology,” which is basically a fancy way of saying that it can put out some reasonable bass for a small(er) speaker. It won’t shake any wine glasses or blow anyone away, but it can hold its own if you’re using the speaker at a house party or to listen to some tunes while you mop the floors.

The CH-080 can get considerably loud, and it doesn’t seem to distort much at higher volumes. Obviously if you overload it with bass, it’s going to sound a little wonky, but overall this little speaker can make some noise.

Conclusion

20150921_121154Coocheer was obviously trying to create a solid, simple, affordable Bluetooth speaker with the CH-080, and it definitely hit the mark. For just $19.99, this is hands-down one of the best speakers for the price. While the NFC issue is somewhat annoying, it isn’t really a deal-breaker. The CH-080 looks great, sounds great, and works almost perfectly. If you’re looking for a strong speaker at a reasonable price, this is definitely a good option.

If you’d like to grab a CH-080 speaker, you can grab one from Amazon here.

The post Coocheer CH-080 Bluetooth speaker review appeared first on AndroidGuys.

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