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4
Nov

Google hopes to reboot its low-cost Android phone program


Android One Smartphone

Google’s Android One program was supposed to help the developing world go mobile and promote ‘pure’ devices full of Google services, but that’s not how it panned out — the phones flopped as both customers and vendors preferred heavily customized Android devices. However, the search giant may not be giving up just yet. Wall Street Journal sources claim that Google is planning to relaunch Android One in the “coming months” with a more relaxed policy that reflects some lessons learned. It’s reportedly loosening the strict hardware requirements, which made it difficult to compete on price and launch phones quickly — companies now have their pick of multiple parts. That’s important in India, where even a small discount can lead to a competitive edge.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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4
Nov

Google hopes to reboot its low-cost Android phone program


Android One Smartphone

Google’s Android One program was supposed to help the developing world go mobile and promote ‘pure’ devices full of Google services, but that’s not how it panned out — the phones flopped as both customers and vendors preferred heavily customized Android devices. However, the search giant may not be giving up just yet. Wall Street Journal sources claim that Google is planning to relaunch Android One in the “coming months” with a more relaxed policy that reflects some lessons learned. It’s reportedly loosening the strict hardware requirements, which made it difficult to compete on price and launch phones quickly — companies now have their pick of multiple parts. That’s important in India, where even a small discount can lead to a competitive edge.

Source: Wall Street Journal

4
Nov

Runaway blimp prompts the US to freeze a missile defense program


Military Blimp Loose Over Pennsylvania

That US Army radar blimp that ran amok didn’t just trigger an internet frenzy… it may have put the brakes on a big military research initiative. Pentagon officials have frozen the JLENS (Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System) program behind the blimp while they investigate what went wrong. The government isn’t saying what it might do, but there are already politicians calling for the blimps to be cut. JLENS had already been hanging by a thread ever since 2010, when the Army threatened to kill it — there are longstanding concerns about both the technology’s reliability and its effectiveness compared to conventional aircraft. Don’t be surprised if these defensive dirigibles vanish in short order.

[Image credit: U.S. Air Force/Tiffany DeNault via Getty Images]

Source: LA Times

4
Nov

Facebook reportedly launching a stand-alone news app next week


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According to Financial Times, Facebook will be releasing yet another stand-alone app. The yet-to-be-released Notify app will feature news from media partners like The Washington Post, CBS and Vogue. Users will receive alerts when one of the outlets publishes an article and it becomes available within the app. Unlike Instant Articles — which embed articles within the main Facebook app — Notify will be a one-trick pony. Both the app and in-app features are meant to reduce the load time of stories and give the social network the opportunity to become the go-to destination for news from multiple sources. If the app does emerge from the company next week, it’ll join a growing number of single-use apps the company has released over the years including, Messenger, Poke, Camera, Rooms, Slingshot, Groups and Pages.

[Image credit: Shutterstock]

Source: Financial Times

4
Nov

Apple May Build Massive 4.15 Million Square Foot Campus in North San Jose


Apple is hoping to sign an agreement with the city of San Jose that would allow it to build a massive campus in the northern part of the city, reports the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Apple is in talks with city officials over a development agreement that would lead to a campus up to 4.15 million square feet, larger than both its existing Infinite Loop campus and its second Apple Campus under construction in Cupertino.

The draft agreement, which is not yet completed, will come before the city’s Planning Commission later this month, officials said. It would lock in development rights — and expectations for both sides — for the next 15 years in an area that sprawls across 86 acres north of Highway 101 across from the Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Apple has already bought or leased much of the land that would house the campus in a series of real estate deals that have happened over the last few months. Apple purchased a 296,000 square foot research and development building in May, and it leased a 43-acre development site in August, which is approved for up to 2.8 million square feet of office space. Apple has also leased a nearby 202,000 square-foot office building. The agreement covers all three of these sites.

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According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the development agreement is not the same as a concrete project and gives no guarantee that Apple will build on the space, but given Apple’s land grab in the area, it seems the company has plans for something big.

Along with its expansion into North San Jose, Apple has also purchased or leased office space in other Bay Area locations. In early October, Apple signed a deal for a 770,00 square foot campus in Sunnyvale, and back in June, it leased 76,000 square feet of office space in the popular (and pricy) South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood in San Francisco.

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4
Nov

ZTE Boost MAX+ review: Big, bulky, and just enough


If you’ve been paying attention to smartphones over the last couple of years, then you certainly understand that these things are getting bigger all the time.

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Whereas a few years ago a 4-inch or 4.5-inch handset would be considered unwieldy or too big for the average person, today’s smartphones range from 5-inches to nearly 6-inches. To help keep phones from getting too big (out of hand) we have seen some manufacturers trim the bezel around the display. This works in most cases and provides a good single-hand experience.

The Samsung Galaxy Note series is the first name in plus-size screens, but the space is getting increasingly crowded.  And, for a lot of us, we don’t need a stylus for jotting down notes or marking up photos. Other big-screen models of the day include the Nexus 6 and the LG G Stylo. ZTE is another brand that has been putting out larger display smartphones for some time as well. We’ve spent some time playing with of them, the Boost Max+, and are here to offer up our takeaway.

Design

Running Android 5.1 Lollipop, the Boost Max+ is a 5.7-inch smartphone. You will find that there is quite a sick bezel around the display which leads to a somewhat bulky in-hand experience. Upon taking out of the box we were immediately reminded of how the Galaxy Note and the Galaxy Note 2 felt prior to Samsung slimming things down.

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Looking at the device from the front we have a speaker at the top center which rests just above the front facing camera. There are capacitive buttons at the bottom so you will not find any hard keys. To the right of the face is the power button which sits about three quarters of the way up. Roughly an inch up from the bottom is a physical camera button.

It’s worth pointing out that you cannot quick launch directly into the camera using the button – you must have the display open and the camera app running. We have seen other devices that let us launch directly into the camera, bypassing the lock screen or without having to tap any icons. We would have certainly liked to see that here.

boost_side_max_plus

On the opposite side of the phone you will find the microSD card slot for expansion. The internal memory is 16 gigabytes so you could  certainly run the risk of filling up if you download a lot of music or apps. Below the microSD slot are your volume rocker buttons; further down is the microUSB port. Indeed, you plug this one in on the side as opposed to on the bottom like most phones. The 3.5mm headphone jack can be found at the top of the phone.

Flipping the device over we find the 8-megapixel camera in the top left with a flash. It is possible to remove the plastic, upper panel which protects the camera. It is here where you will find the IMEI and serial number as well as access to the SIM card slot. There are no other removable aspects to this phone. The 3400mAh battery is non-removable.

Performance

Performance is what we expected with the 1.2 gigahertz quad-core processor bolstered by 2GB RAM. It’s middle of the road stuff and gets the job done for the average consumer. If you are looking to play games, do some serious multitasking, or push your phone a little bit, you may be disappointed with the overall performance.

Things don’t necessarily lag, however we never got the sense that this one had any “snap” to it. Basic stuff like email, texting, and web browsing went just fine for us. As we got into more graphic intense or demanding apps we found it slowed a bit. Hopping from one app to another or going back to the home screen was just on this side of speedy, but the more apps we had open, the more we noticed performance dwindle.

Display

The screen resolution is listed at 720 pixels which is technically considered high definition. By contrast, many of today’s larger handsets dabble in the 1080p or 2k resolution. This means double or quadruple the number of pixels spread out over the same screen. In other words, a sharper picture.

The lower resolution screen, of course, leads to a lower price point. However, at this size, it becomes pretty obvious that it won’t look as sharp as some of the pricier and bigger name counterparts. Is it good enough for the average person? You bet. And, consider that shortcomings are only obvious when you measure one model against something else. On its own, we like the display, but we certainly do not love it.

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The display itself is moderately bright, if only in standard lighting conditions. Get outside, however, and you will find that it is little more difficult to see – naturally. We found we didn’t have to strain our eyes or look closely at the phone to read emails and text. Pictures and graphics looked good, and we were pleased with the overall experience. Direct sun wasn’t fun, but using our body for shade or holding our hand over the screen went a long way.

Camera

The camera setup is adequate but it’s not anything to write home about. The rear camera is 8 megapixels which is lower than what you’ll find in some of the other mid and upper smartphones. The front-facing camera is 1-megapixel which is just enough to satisfy selfie takers and provides the most basic quality for video chat. Our sample pictures showed a grainy picture, sometimes in average lighting conditions.

ZTE-Boost-Max--Camera-Samples---Google-Photos

Going outside where it was bright, mid-day images would often have a “blown out” white. Viewing these on a phone isn’t so bad, but look at the original images on a PC and you’ll see where the camera falls short.

As for the camera software, well, that’s more impressive. There are a number of shooting modes to choose from including Auto, Pro, and Fun. Dig into fun a little and you’ll discover Macro, HDR, Smile, and some filter effects.

camera_options

Although the filters don’t slow the picture taking process down, HDR takes about three seconds to process a photo. And, even at the higher dynamic range, we still ended up with images that had too much white. Keep that in mind if you’re planning on action shots.

Sound

The phone features Dolby Digital Plus for audio which is designed to enhance your movies and video playback with a virtual surround sound. The speaker itself is found on the back of the phone so  it broadcasts away from the user. Depending on how you hold it, sound can get louder but it’s never “too” loud – even at max volume.

Compared to other phones we felt this one came in around 3/4 as loud. Along those lines, placing the Boost Max+ on a table give the sound some amplification as it bounces off the surface. We would have liked to have something that played out of the side, front, or bottom of the phone. A screen this big begs for media consumption like YouTube or Netflix; we want sound to go with it.

Battery

The 3400mAh battery is a bright spot for the Boost Max+. We were consistently able to get into a second and, sometimes, even third day of use. After initial setup and playing around we found that this phone lasts far beyond one day of usage. Your mileage may vary, of course, but we suspect the target demographic will not tax this device to heavily. When you’re not playing high end games and only pushing a 720p screen, that capacity of battery is bound to do well.

Software

The software experience is nearly stock with Android 5.1 Lollipop. ZTE and Boost Mobile do not do much to enhance the user experience in terms of customization. You will, however, find a number of pre-loaded applications for services such as Boost Music, Boost Wallet, Boost Zone, Uber, and a few others. On the plus side, you can uninstall a number of these applications and get them out of the way. If you are not married to the services or features, you can remove them to free up small amounts of storage space.

 

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We found there were a few instances that the phone notified us of other apps or services to check out, something that doesn’t come with the standard Android build. Between the pre-loaded apps, widgets, and services it does feel like Boost is pushing a carrier agenda or fulfilling licensing agreements. It’s not necessarily worse than any of the other major carriers, but it’s not exactly fun to wake your phone up to seemingly random recommendations.

Conclusion

The phone feels a little bulky however it is not actually all that thick. A lot of it comes down to the bezel around the display and the extra space above and below the screen. If you’re not happy holding or using a 4.5-inch or 5-inch phone, this one might feel unwieldy.

We found the HD display, which is protected by Gorilla Glass, does take a pretty good beating. Toss it in the pocket or purse, or sliding onto the desk, the phone handles basic life carelessness quite well.

 

boost_max_plus2Considering the $200 off-contract price, it’s hard to complain about the handset without sounding overly picky. The Android 5.1 is respectable even though there’s newer stuff to be had. Given that 6.0 Marshmallow is not a must-have update, most Boost Max+ users should be happy.

While this one certainly isn’t as glamorous or look as “premium” as other brands, it is hard to fault this device. It does not pretend to be anything that it isn’t and the price point is in line with performance. There are a number of phones from Boost Mobile that command a much higher price, some of them more than a few years old.

Prepaid phones tend to get a bad reputation when it comes to smartphones. The idea, generally, is that these are yesterday’s devices and cannot compete with the models found that other carriers. Is that the case here? Somewhat. If this is your first foray into Android smartphones and/or with Boost Mobile, we suspect you’ll be happy with the Boost Max+. For those who have previous experience with an Android handset, this one may feel like a side-step.

The post ZTE Boost MAX+ review: Big, bulky, and just enough appeared first on AndroidGuys.

4
Nov

BlackBerry Priv to receive monthly Android security patches


BlackBerry Priv press
In wake of the recent Stagefright vulnerability in Android, many OEMs have been committing to monthly security-focused updates for their devices. Companies such as Samsung, LG and Google have all committed to putting a bigger focus on security patches, and now we can add BlackBerry to that list as well.

BlackBerry has just released some detailed information as to how it plans to keep its upcoming Android-powered handset, the Priv, up to date with the latest security patches as they become available to the public. Specifically, the company says it will release monthly updates to users who have purchased the Priv through shopblackberry.com. If you happen to purchase your device from a carrier or authorized retailer, though, you might need to wait a bit longer. Only the carriers who agree to this monthly security update schedule will push out the patches in a timely manner. As of right now, we’re not entirely sure if the carriers are on-board with this update schedule.

BlackBerry will issue a hotfix if need be

Additionally, BlackBerry has detailed its plans to issue a “hotfix” to Priv devices if need be. This means that if a certain critical vulnerability is discovered that can’t wait for the monthly update cycle to roll around, BlackBerry will issue a hotfix to the affected devices. “While BlackBerry will work with its go-to-market partners on approval and delivery of hotfixes, BlackBerry has the ability to directly patch all PRIV variants and will do so when necessary to protect users and enterprises,” the company states. Of course, the ability to issue timely hotfixes largely depends on the severity of the vulnerability and the complexity of the fix.

BlackBerry also says that businesses can manage updates through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), which will let IT professionals control when these patches are rolled out.

It’s no surprise to see BlackBerry commit to monthly security patches for the Priv. The company has proven itself time and time again that it’s putting a huge focus on security, and we don’t think that will change with its new Android handset.

4
Nov

Deal: Homido VR headset offers quality, comfort and extensive content for $69.95


homido-cr-1

Virtual reality headsets are all the hype, with adoption rising among gamers and mobile enthusiasts alike. But the issue is that so much out there is either amazingly cheap (in both senses) or amazingly expensive. Not to mention, Google Cardboard headsets all pretty much serve the same purpose. Where are the VR headsets that really bring something different to the table?

Truth is there are very few, especially for those of us on a budget, but the AA Deals Store has an option that can bring comfort, quality and awesome content for a reasonable price. You can now purchase the Homido VR headset for only $69.95, a 30% discount over the original $100 price (which is what Amazon currently sells it for).

What do you get with the Homido Virtual Reality headset? In fact, you get quite a bit. Not only is it compatible with all Cardboard apps, but Homido also has its own content store, with over 300 apps. And the device itself is no bad contender. It’s made of better quality materials than your usual Cardboard headset, and it is very comfortable. This is not only due to its ergonomics, but also because it happens to be one of the most versatile headsets we have seen.

homido-cr-2

The distance between the two lenses is easily adjustable, and these can be exchanged as well. It also happens to have an interchangeable face contact surface, and you can customize to your vision needs (farsighted, nearsighted and normal vision). By the way, it does support both Android and iOS (limited Windows Phone capabilities) devices with screens ranging from 4 to 5.7 inches, so most users would be covered.

See the Homido VR headset at the AA Deals Store

4
Nov

Firefox for Android gets a more powerful Private Browsing mode in v42 update


Firefox

If you aren’t happy with your current mobile browser and happen to take privacy very seriously, perhaps you’ll want to pay attention to the new update that’s rolling out to Firefox for Android. In the big version 42 update, the third-party browser app is getting a new feature added to its Private Browsing mode called Tracking Protection.

Normally when you enter Private Browsing mode (or Incognito mode for the Chrome users), your browser will get rid of your history and cookies, but not a whole lot more than that. But when this new Tracking Protection feature turned on, Firefox will block some web content like advertisements, analytics trackers and even social share buttons that might record your behavior across sites without your knowledge.

The Firefox team is also adding in a new Control Center that will show you website security levels and privacy controls in your address bar. Using the Control Center will also allow you to easily turn off Tracking Protection in Private Browsing if the new feature ends up breaking the webpage. If you’d like more details on the two new features, check out the video attached below to learn more:

This new update is rolling out in the Google Play Store as we speak, so follow the link below to grab the latest version.

Download Firefox from the Play Store

4
Nov

Motorola ready to start soak test for Marshmallow on the 2015 Moto G


motorola_moto_g_2015_back_closeup_TAMotorola has been pretty spotty on which devices will be getting Marshmallow, but fortunately, the 2015 Moto G made the cut. Seems like that update is going to happen sooner rather than later, too, as Motorola is apparently sending out a soak test for the newest version of Android.

Our review praised how well the mid-range device handled Android, but Marshmallow brings a handful of new features to the phone that should be very welcome additions. You’ll get Doze, which is supposed to help out quite a bit with Android’s battery life, as well as Google’s innovative Now on Tap feature. App permissions are also drastically redesigned in Android 6.0.

As of right now, there’s no official confirmation from Motorola. But generally, as long as the soak test goes well, the official update isn’t far behind.

via: Droid Life

Come comment on this article: Motorola ready to start soak test for Marshmallow on the 2015 Moto G

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