Tag Archives: Android

LG launching G Pad 8.3 tablet in South Korea on Oct 14, expanding to 30 more countries by years end

lg g pad 8_3 tablet android south koreaSmaller tablets are hot right now. LG is making a move on the smaller than 10″ tablet segment with the new G Pad 8.3. Teased before this year’s IFA, the G Pad is continuing in the footsteps of the G2 launch. LG is looking to shake up their design language, and they’re turning to their users to help influence the future of LG products.

The G Pad 8.3 will be one of the slimmest and lightest small tablets to enter this arena. Noting that ten inch screens are often left at home, LG is banking on a more portable design. The specs are mid-high end for this segment as well. An 8.3″ 1080p display will be powered by a Qualcomm 600 series quad-core and 2GB of RAM. 16GB of storage on board can be upgraded via MicroSD cards. Ultra-slim bezels should help one-handed operation, and a decently sized battery should afford all day run time.

All in all a nice little competitor to the current popular iPad Minis and Kindle Fires. G Pad 8.3 drops on October 13 in South Korea for 550,000 won (about $514 US dollars), and LG will push it out to 30 more countries by end of year. After spending a couple months with the Optimus G Pro, LG is starting to find their feet with larger screens.

(via LG Electronics)

Vertu announces Constellation smartphone with 4.3″ Sapphire screen

vertu constellation sapphire screen luxury android phoneVertu makes some ridiculous “luxury” smartphones. In years past, you would pay crazy amounts of money to own gadgets made out of exotic materials, but often with lagging tech. Their newest handset ‘Constellation’ marks the first time their penchant for high end materials has also moved the tech industry forward a bit however.

While never the point of a Vertu, the specs feel “nice” but a bit dated. Constellation is powered by a dual-core Snapdragon and comes with 32GB of storage. The 4.3″ screen has a 720p resolution, but the actual excitement comes from what that screen is made out of. A 5.1″ slab of Sapphire protects the front face of the phone. Not some BS “Saffire” branding, nope the actual gem, and sapphire is almost as hard as diamond. This screen should be virtually scratch proof (unless you rub a diamond against it), and should prove a bit more durable for bumps and drops.

Color me impressed. I usually mock Vertu handsets, but this is one “fancy” material I hope will eventually filter down into the phones we plebs use…

Constellation should be available in stores later this month at a price of €4,900 (about $6600).

Full PR after the break.

Continue reading Vertu announces Constellation smartphone with 4.3″ Sapphire screen

Ask Juan: Can Windows Phone Compete with Graphics and Gaming?

From the Twitters:

windows phone xbox live gamingHey Yasi,

So here’s the deal, long story short, current Windows Phone Handsets will run at a deficit compared to current Android handsets when it comes to gaming. Microsoft’s hardware mandate pretty much guarantees that all Windows Phones will rock similar hardware. To date, that means Qualcomm’s older dual core Snapdragon chipset. Even though Windows Phone 8 is a decently lean OS which runs more efficiently than Android, and for day to day tasks you’d be hard pressed to see much difference in operation between WP8 on dual-core and Android on quad-core, gaming is one of those phone taxing activities where the extra horsepower comes in handy.

It’s not to say that the gaming experience is bad, far from it. I’m having a blast playing Halo: Spartan Assault, and Where’s My Water 2 was released on WP before Android. All things being equal though, playing the same game on Android and WP8, like Asphalt 7, I find levels load faster, game play lags less, and newer Android phones tend to run a little cooler than WP handsets. We’re just running into the upper limits of what this older chipset is capable of delivering.

Other comparisons become a bit more subjective. Some claim that the 1080p resolution found on newer Android fare looks better than the 720p screens on Windows Phones. Also, that the better graphics hardware means fancier lighting and particle effects. Both are certainly true scientifically, but I’ve honestly had a difficult time seeing a tremendous advantage on screens smaller than five inches.

It’s not all bad news though, as the Nokia Lumia 1520 phablet is rumored to be the first Windows Phone featuring both a 1080p screen and Qualcomm’s new 800 series chipset, pretty much catapulting Windows Phone up to the current ranks of the premier Android ecosystem. On phones rocking a larger than five inch screen that resolution bump becomes a little more noticeable in fine detail and clarity.

Thanks for the question Yasi!

Review: Focal Camera App (Beta) for Android

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (4)I wont get into all the drama surrounding this app. For those curious, there’s a third party ROM team called CyanogeMod which just went corporate and is looking to improve how people might load the CyanogenMod custom ROM onto various smartphones. For a brief time, the Focal camera app BETA was baked into CyanogenMod, but was removed for stability reasons and issues with licensing. Focal Developer Guillaume Lesniak shared his perspective on his G+ page.

Anywho, now Focal is its own standalone app on Google Play, and while we’re definitely talking BETA here, it’s got serious potential to offer a unified high quality camera experience to all users regardless of what phone they might be using.

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (1)Focal borrows some of the aesthetic of the stock Android Nexus app. Your shutter control floats on top of the viewfinder, and menus are hidden by swiping gestures. A slide up from the left side of the screen (in portrait) brings up a scrolling menu where you can find a huge number of photographic controls. Sliding across the shutter button allows you to change between photos, videos, panorama, photoshere, and switching between the front and rear cameras.

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (3)The number of options at your command is pretty formidable. The basics are up front, toggling the flash, adjusting white balance, “Scene Mode” options (auto by default), and activating HDR options. Exposure controls and metering options help dial in brighter or darker pics, and in camera filters allow you to see what your shots will look like in black and white, sepia, and negative color space. Lastly color saturation and JPEG quality settings can help your shots retain more detail or achieve smaller file sizes.

What’s ingenious is how well laid out these options are. They aren’t anything you wont find on another manufacturer camera app, like on the HTC One or GS4 for example. They are laid out in a very straightforward way here however. Tapping on one category provides the user a pop up with icons and text to explain what options they have for controls. That pop up remains until the user taps on the category again to collapse the options. Every control is found in this interface. Not like on other apps where some options are found on screen and some are buried under a separate menu. It really is the most intuitive layout I’ve seen on a camera app featuring this much control.

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (5)The interface is smooth, but performance is very shaky on several phones. Taking a pic froze my HTC One. The GS4 was able to utilize most features, but rendering a PhotoSphere locked it up. The LG Optimus G Pro was the most stable, but would default to the lowest resolution output for pics.

As for output, it’s hard to see much difference between the various phone apps and Focal. Using Focal’s quality settings, you can dial up jpegs almost twice as large as what you would normally see out of a phone app. The biggest I saw was a 5MB image off the LG. Usually your phone’s camera app will pump out around a 2MB pic.

So the verdict? Not read for your main driver. It is called a BETA, and that label is accurate. What we see is some pretty terrific potential though. For the number of phones I get to play with, there’s something nice about some consistency. For my personal phones now I tend to fall back on the same apps and launchers so I know where everything is by muscle memory regardless of what phone or tablet I use.

Adding a consistent camera experience would be a nice addition to the list.

Focal BETA on Google Play

Apple taking steps to block knock off Lightning Connector cables and chargers

Lightning USB cable appleI’m a little torn on this story.

On the one hand, I think it’s great that Apple will start taking steps to block the use of knock off cheap Lightning connector cables and chargers. There’s a chip built into each cable, communicating with the iPhone or iPad to verify authenticity. This chip can be cracked and cloned, but there are still varying reports of people getting shocked or even killed by knock offs.

Apple has started a trade in program, where customers can bring in knock off chargers and get an official Apple charger for $10. This is a very conscious move on Apple’s part getting ahead of a market which could be damaging their brand, and acknowledging a potential consumer health risk.

However, there’s a part of me which can’t help but point out that Apple’s use of non-standard connectors and cabling is what’s causing this cottage industry of building and selling knock off chargers. Buying the official Lightning connector cable by itself from Apple will set you back $30. Buying an Amazon branded Lightning cable will still run you $14. Total cost to get an official Apple cable and charger is around $50.

Buying a decent MicroUSB cable capable of charging and syncing any Android, Blackberry, or Windows Phone? About $5, or at least usually less than a dollar a foot.

In part it was this kind of situation that the EU was hoping to avoid back in 2010 when they started working towards a universal device connector. Not just to halt the price gouging of every company coming up with proprietary connections, and the e-waste associated with one-off accessories, but also the health and safety issues associated with people trying to find deals. MicroUSB was eventually agreed upon, but Apple decided to continue with a proprietary dock connector. To appease the EU, Apple released a $20 Lightning connector to MicroUSB adapter, which will allow your iPhone to charge off of those aforementioned $5 cables. While within the letter of the law, it certainly violates the spirit of developing a standard.

If you’re using a cheap “alternative” brand charger for your iDevices, I would highly recommend checking out Apples trade in offer. Saving a few bucks is hardly worth a fried iPhone.

(via PhoneArena)

BBM now available for iOS, Blackberry explains Messenger delay on Android

android bbm blackberry messenger delay somegadgetguy htc oneMaybe the final sign that Blackberry might be running out of options, their terrific Messenger app is being ported to iOS and Android. It was one of the few experiences that BB could claim as being superior to other messaging apps on the market. However under the onslaught of Facetimes, Hangouts, Skypes, WhatsApps, and more BBM was getting lost in the shuffle. If BB leaves the hardware market, there’s still a potential future for them as a branded software solutions company. Releasing BBM wide could help them improve mind share with consumers who might have walked away from their phone offerings.

BBM is now available on iOS, but we’re still waiting for the official Android version. There are apparently some security concerns regarding the Android app ecosystem. From the BBM Blog:

Prior to launching BBM for Android, an unreleased version of the BBM for Android app was posted online. The interest and enthusiasm we have seen already – more than 1.1 million active users in the first 8 hours without even launching the official Android app – is incredible. Consequently, this unreleased version caused issues, which we have attempted to address throughout the day.

Our teams continue to work around the clock to bring BBM to Android and iPhone, but only when it’s ready and we know it will live up to your expectations of BBM. We are pausing the global roll-out of BBM for Android and iPhone. Customers who have already downloaded BBM for iPhone will be able to continue to use BBM. The unreleased Android app will be disabled, and customers who downloaded it should visitwww.BBM.com to register for updates on official BBM for Android availability.

As soon as we are able, we will begin a staggered country roll-out of BBM for Android and continue the roll-out of BBM for iPhone. Please follow @BBM on Twitter for the latest updates and go to www.BBM.com to sign-up for updates about BBM for Android and iPhone. These issues have not impacted BBM service for BlackBerry.

Now the question remains, how many of my friends might still be using BBM…

The Post Where We Say Goodbye to Blackberry?

blackberry stock slideI’ve been staving off writing this for some time now. Even among all the reports of potential buyouts, I kept hoping the company would start to turn itself around, find some momentum. It looks like that wont be happening.

Blackberry is warning investors ahead of their official call on September 27th that revenue will be more than a billion dollars below expectations. Yup. Expectations were hovering around $3 Billion, and BB will be reporting $1.6 Billion. Ouch.

Of course these are analyst predictions, and analysts are notoriously bad at predicting the future, but this will obviously hurt BB’s image (under-producing) more than it’ll hit any market watching “guru”.

Reactions to the news has caused a stock slide of almost 20 percent. Another blow to the company, and now CEO Thorsten Heins is announcing the first measure to be taken will be a round of layoffs to the tune of 4,500 axed jobs. They’ll also be streamlining future handset launches. Instead of the six phones they were planning on introducing over the next year, they’ll be dropping down to four, two high-end and two entry-level.

blackberry os 10 handsets z10 q10 smartphonesIt’s this combination of expectations and time which is going to put a hurt on upstarts and smaller companies moving forward. Yes, BB once ruled the smartphone landscape, but they didn’t properly focus on the consumer experience. Sure they have great mind-share and brand recognition, but they are also creating a new product line from scratch. New OS. New devices. Customers are wary of “new” right now.

Apple found success in smartphones based on years of consumer trust built on iPods. Android needed about three major revisions before it started gaining traction outside low cost, entry-level gear. HP bailed on Palm before it had a shot when it wasn’t immediately successful out of the gate (they’re currently floundering with half-way attempts at Android, with rumors pointing to a possible Windows Phone in the works). Microsoft is just now starting to be taken seriously in mobile, now that we’re looking at a third generation of Windows Phone hardware about to hit the market.

BB is on that “new” list. The bummer is, BB OS10 is pretty great. It’s a refreshing spin on a mobile UI. Gestures are clean. It looks good. It’s a nice experience. This means almost nothing right now. Customers don’t want “new”, they want an established ecosystem. They want to trust that their devices will get updates and that they’ll see new devices in the future. They want apps, and they want to see cases they’ll never buy at Mall kiosks. Those things only come with time and sales. Those early sales are going to be harder and harder to come by as every player that fails in this market will only reinforce why consumers should only buy something established. Why they shouldn’t take a risk.

Years. Blackberry needs years.

QuickOffice now free on Android & iOS – Includes 10GB additional free storage on Google Drive

quickoffice google drive android tablet phone documents spreadsheets free somegadgetguyJust a quick heads up!

Google recently bought out QuickOffice, and it looks like they’re ready to start bringing it into the proper stable of other Google Apps. QuickOffice can integrate with Google Drive, and it provides much better tools for document and spreadsheet editing (IMO) than the stock Drive app. Not the least of which is the ability to create a new document while offline…

QuickOffice has become my go-to solution for writing while traveling on my little Nexus 7, and now it’s completely free! That should be enough for you to at least give it a whirl, but Google is going to sweeten the pot a little more. If you install by September 26, you’ll also receive an additional 10GB of cloud storage through Google Drive.

Hit the Google Drive Blog for more info, or go directly to Google Play to install QuickOffice!