Tag Archive | "Articles"

Control your home with your phone: are we there yet?

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Control-your-home-with-your-phone-are-we-there-yetWe remember reading a couple of years ago about Bill Gates’s fully automated, yet cosy mansion, with its 40 miles of optical fiber, floor sensors that can track your location with up to six inches accuracy, and a hot tub, which can be set for the desired water temperature before you get home.

We were then just drooling, sad that we can’t outfit our own cribs like that. Well, in a few short years, the field of home automation (HA) received a significant boost, the technology is within the reach of many, and now smartphone owners have the perfect tool to carry the control unit with them at all times.

Home automation can be divided into a few broad categories, depending on what you are trying to control – lighting, HVAC, appliances, security, entertainment or others, like sprinklers or a cat feeder. We won’t be delving into the hundreds of brands and ways to adjust your home environment from afar, since there are currently more than 10 competing standards, but barely a thing you can get from Home Depot on the cheap and drive home to install yourself – we are just looking at how HA relays to your smartphone or tablet…

Read the full article at PhoneArena

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Motorola DROID BIONIC: what we know so far

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Motorola-DROID-BIONIC-what-we-know-so-farAh, the Motorola DROID BIONIC – easily our best candidate for most delayed device in recent history. From January 5th when it was unveiled at CES all the way until August it has become more and more mysterious.

Let’s start with some history – Motorola announced and showcased the phone eight months ago. With the passing of time rumors started appearing that it will be delayed. Motorola silently confirmed this, saying that it will release the phone with improved specifications (and design) – a different device, which we knew under the codename Targa.

Details remained a secret and with so much mystery we could hardly be certain about anything when it comes to the Bionic. Up until recently that is, when what looks like the final Droid Bionic hit the FCC as Motorola XT875

Read the full article at PhoneArena

Posted in Phones

Will developer anger at the Amazon Appstore kill the Amazon tablet before it’s launched?

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Will-developer-anger-at-the-Amazon-Appstore-kill-the-Amazon-tablet-before-its-launchedThe Amazon Appstore has become the whipping boy of developers recently because of missing features, troubling practices, and an ecosystem that is designed more to benefit Amazon than the developers. The Amazon Appstore launched in March, and last month the troubles for developers got to the point where some began to leave. The first story to get circulated around was from developer Bithack, which pulled its physics game, Apparatus, from the Appstore because of a number of problems with the way Amazon ran its store. Now, just a couple days ago developer Shifty Jelly pulled its Pocket Casts app from the Amazon Appstore and posted a scathing review of the service.

Developer issues

Both Bithack and Shifty Jelly have a number of issues which overlap. First up on both of the lists of complaints was the lengthy review process. Unlike the Android Market, which gets its own flak for being something of a wild west where anyone and anything goes, the Amazon Appstore has a slow approval process for both new apps and updates. Developers cite a 2 week long review process, and Bithack had to go through an extra week after its app was declined and had to be resubmitted. In a unified ecosystem like iOS, something like this wouldn’t be a problem, but because submissions are instant in the Android Market, it means that there will often be a newer, updated version of an app in the Android Market as compared to Amazon. Many times, this may not cause much of a problem, but there have been some big troubles. For example, when UberMedia was tagged by Twitter for TOS violations, Twidroyd became unusable. The update was pushed to the Android Market immediately once the issues were fixed, but the Amazon Appstore was left with an unusable Twidroyd app being downloaded by unknowing users…

Check out the full article at PhoneArena.com

Posted in Tablets

Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty for Android Review

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Captain-America-Sentinel-of-Liberty-for-Android-ReviewIntroduction:

Although he isn’t the most well known, popular, or even iconic of Marvel Comics’ characters, Captain America is really the heart of the company. He is equal parts Superman (personality) and Batman (no true super-powers), and best of all, he once punched Hitler in the jaw. Now, Cap has his own movie, and of course with a movie comes games. Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty is the first mobile game from Marvel Entertainment, and is made by SEGA.

Story & Presentation:

The game is a side-scrolling action platformer where you play as Captain America (of course) and attempt to take down HYDRA, a group led by the Red Skull, which is making weapons that could turn the tide of World War II. The story was written by Marvel’s Chris Gage, and is told through cut-scene cinematics that bookend each stage which feature art by Ron Lim and Christopher Sotomayor, and text blurbs at the beginning of each level within a stage. Unfortunately, the story just isn’t very compelling, and it’s easy to miss any subtlety that may be there…

Read the whole article at PhoneArena.com

Posted in Software

DROID 3 vs ThunderBolt vs iPhone 4: web browsing comparison

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DROID-3-vs-ThunderBolt-vs-iPhone-4-web-browsing-comparisonContinually seeing leaps in technology, the proliferation of web surfing on smartphones has been aided by network carriers aggressively expanding their data infrastructure across all four corners of the world. At first, 3G was undeniably accepted with open arms as it produced significantly faster speeds compared to the generation before it – and much like that, LTE and the myriad of 4G labeled networks are doing the same thing for our time. However, there are still other factors that come to play in profoundly earning a great web browsing experience on a smartphone. Knowing that, we decided to pick up a trio of top-notch devices and pit them against one another in a battle for web surfing supremacy.

Taking the Apple iPhone 4, HTC ThunderBolt, and Motorola DROID 3, we decided to run a few different web browsing tests to see how they stack up against each other. And to make things as fair as possible, especially when the 4G LTE enabled HTC ThunderBolt would smite the other two in raw data speed, we placed them all into airplane mode and connected them to the same Wi-Fi network. At this point, that takes out the network carriers out of the equation and mainly places the burden on the handset’s hardware and software to see which one is able to pull off the best results…

Read the whole article at PhoneArena.com!

Posted in Phones

15 productivity apps optimized for Honeycomb

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15-productivity-apps-optimized-for-HoneycombWe’ve started solving the puzzle of the missing Honeycomb apps by first covering essential Honeycomb social apps, then news and entertainment apps for Honeycomb, and now it’s time to get down to business and boost our productivity on a tablet. For that we’ve hand-picked 15 tablet optimized productivity applications. Check out the list below and feel free to chime in with suggestions of your own in the comments below!

Productivity apps for Honeycomb:

honeycomb-productivity-apps-1Honeycomb browsers

- Opera Mobile | Free

One of the best alternatives to the stock Honeycomb browser, Opera Mobile supports Adobe Flash and is among the most responsive browsers out there.

- DualWeb Browser | Free

This might not be an absolutely essential app, but it brings a brilliant idea – browsing two pages simultaneously…

You can read the whole article at PhoneArena.com

Posted in Tablets

Sifting through Samsung Mobile Romania tweeted rumors about the Nexus 3 (Prime)

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Sifting-through-Samsung-Mobile-Romania-tweeted-rumors-about-the-Nexus-3-PrimeIt’s time again for a round of “Parse the Rumor”! Yesterday, we had a good time deconstructing the likely false rumor about the Nexus Prime having a dedicated Google+ button. And, today we get to sort out some interesting tweets by the Samsung Mobile Romania team about production for the Nexus Prime.

Originally, there were two tweets sent out by the Samsung Mobile Romania Twitter account. The first seemingly confirmed that the next Nexus phone will feature the Samsung AMOLED Super HD (720p) screen. The second claimed that production would begin in late 2011. Since then, a tweet has been sent out on the account claiming that the two Nexus tweets were uploaded by mistake, and are based on rumors not official Samsung statements. It seems someone got a little overeager, but let’s look at the rumors anyway.

SamsungRomaniaTweet1-550x194The screen

First, the screen. At this point, the most credible rumor surrounding this whole thing is the inclusion of the Samsung AMOLED Super HD screen. Even with the recent move to qHD screens, Android devices in general have been lagging behind the iPhone 4 display, and there is no doubt that Google would like to see screen quality improved in the ecosystem. Whether that means that the Nexus Prime will feature a qHD, or the Samsung Super HD is yet to be seen. However, Google has been a big proponent of AMOLED screens, even adding an overall darker look to Gingerbread in order to boost battery life on devices with OLED screens (and we can confirm around 45 minutes extra per day on the Nexus One since that update.) So, it seems more likely that Google would want the Samsung screen, and that may point to a higher likelihood that Samsung will in fact be the manufacturer of the Nexus Prime.

The timeline

SamsungRomaniaTweet2ConfirmProduction-550x180Secondly, the timeline. This just sounds completely wrong to us. It seems like Google wants to claim the holiday season as the window for their Nexus device launches. The Nexus One looked like it was going to hit the holiday season, but slipped into early 2010. The Nexus S was pushed out just in time for Christmas. And, Google has repeatedly pointed to Q4 of this year as the release window for Ice Cream Sandwich. So, the idea that production of the Nexus Prime wouldn’t even start until late 2011 seems incredibly suspect.

Granted, Nexus phones are inherently niche devices and developer handsets, so Google doesn’t need to produce amounts on par with say the Samsung Galaxy S II, but if the device is going to be launched in Q4, which seems to be what Google is aiming for, then production needs to get going earlier than “late 2011″. Of course, if the Super HD screen will cause delays in manufacturing, it would be interesting to see if Google keeps to their current timeline, or delays the device.

What do you guys think? Would you rather a qHD Nexus device in time for the holidays, or a Super HD device in time for Valentine’s Day? Sound off in the comments!

source: Twitter via Phandroid

Posted in Phones

A closer look at the Nexus Prime’s possible dedicated Google+ button

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A-closer-look-at-the-Nexus-Primes-possible-dedicated-Google-buttonSometimes, you come across a rumor that makes you pause, because for a moment you can’t imagine anything other than how absurd it sounds, but the more you think about it, the more it could be true. That’s the place we found upon reading the rumor that the next Google Nexus phone would be made by HTC and have a dedicated Google+ button. Let’s tackle this in sections:

The source

This newest rumor comes from an unidentified person claiming that the info came from an official Google employee. Not a bad start. However, the rumor was posted on the Google+ fan page on Facebook. The poster didn’t even have the decency to post this on Google+.

Now, as much as we love anonymous claims with absolutely nothing to back it up, they do fall slightly behind rumors from a mildly trusted source. Not too long ago, BGR reported that the next Nexus phone (they said the name would be the Nexus Prime) was to be built by Samsung. BGR was also siting an anonymous in-the-know source, but at least BGR has a record of some of their reported rumors being true.

The information

This new rumor is light on details, but the two major points are:

  1. The Nexus Prime will be made by HTC.
  2. It will feature a dedicated Google+ (G+) button.

As to point number 1, that could very well be true. There have been various rumors surrounding the Nexus Prime, which have had the manufacturer as either LG, HTC or Samsung. History would put both HTC and Samsung as the frontrunners in that race, because both companies have close relationships with Google. It seems likely that even the people at Google may not know exactly which company is making the Nexus Prime, although if the phone is coming this holiday season, that decision should be made soon. We wouldn’t even be surprised to see that HTC is making the Nexus Prime, while Samsung is in charge of the Nexus Tablet, which must be at least in the planning stage…

Read the full story at PhoneArena.com

Posted in Phones

Do we need the Amazon Appstore for Android?

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Do-we-need-the-Amazon-Appstore-for-AndroidThree months and a couple of lawsuits ago, the Amazon Appstore defied the laws of the industry by seconding Android’s Market functionality and virtually copying the name of Apple’s storefront. The latter has unveiled into a legal saga of a huge proportion, but while that has helped the Appstore get wider publicity, question remains – what more does the Amazon Appstore offer over the Android Market and why should we use it?

Pure curiosity might have pushed you into taking a look, but Amazon’s storefront brings a lot of benefits in comparison to the market that are not immediately obvious. And by immediately obvious we mean Amazon Appstore’s daily giveaways of paid apps discounted to a price of zero, which are enough of a reason for many to check the store daily. But it also beats the Android Market when it comes to the most popular titles recently, which often arrive first at the store and are sometimes exclusive to it. The most recent examples are Cut the Rope and Plants vs Zombies for Android. This brings true competition between application stores, which can finally only be of benefit to consumers…

See the full article at PhoneArena.com

Posted in Software

Google+ (Google Plus) for Android Hands-on

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Google-Google-Plus-for-Android-Hands-onSo Google+ has arrived on Android, but what exactly is it? You’ve probably heard that it’s not Facebook, but it’s like Facebook, so what’s the difference? Google’s attempt at social networking reaches for the sweet spot between oversharing in Facebook and undersharing in Twitter through one key concept – Circles. Unlike Facebook, everything in Google+ is organized around this circular concept, forcing you out of the paradox of having 500+ “friends” you barely know. In Google Plus you classify friends, acquaintances and co-workers until everyone gets the place they deserve.

But to get into that magical space you have to… be invited, of course. Google+ is yet another invite-only beta service by the search giant. After the initial excitement of conquering the new lands of the web, you realize that a trip to the Android Market will prove beneficial as that’s where the free Android application for the new social network resides.

SC20110701-164837It greets you with five icons – Stream, Huddle, Photos, Profile and Circles. You already know about the Circles, while the Stream presents you with a unified view of all the updates from all of your circles. Next on the list is Photos, accumulating a lot of pictures. Actually, every single picture you take on your cell phone can be instantly uploaded to the web. You shouldn’t worry about privacy, though, as it’s stored safely in a private album, so if you want to share it with the world, you just change the picture to public availability… et voila. There’s one downside to this otherwise excellent idea – all images are downsized to save you some traffic. In Google Plus you only get to see 720 x 540 pixels worth of an image.

The profile icon takes you straight to your profile where you can edit all of your personal information. We should add, that just like Facebook, Google Plus is helping you to discover what you’re interested in through the Sparks feature and with it you can add even more information about yourself.

You might have noticed that we missed Huddle and for a reason. The feature is exclusive to the mobile application and allows you to easily create group chats with all people in a circle or just handpicked individuals. Now, while that’s truly an outstanding feature (just think how much easier it makes organizing a get-together), Huddle puzzled us with being available only in the Android Google+ app. You can’t continue your conversation on a desktop, nor through the mobile website, and it’s not integrated with Google Chat.

SC20110701-164845That rounds up the functionality of the Android app, but you won’t know all about it, unless we say what Google+ and the application miss. First of all, the new social network has this creepy yet cool Hangout feature, which is basically a group video chat. Perfect opportunity to use that front facing camera on your cell phone? Think again, as it’s not supported in the mobile application, and we’d love to see the engineers at Google add this in next versions of the app.

The app also doesn’t support multiple accounts (that’s supposed to be fixed in Version 1.0.2, which wasn’t available at the time of writing this), but even more importantly – there is no private messaging. At least in the way we are used, you can still send IMs or emails to people in your circles, but the lack of dedicated private messaging was a disappointment for us.

To conclude, we have to admit that Google Plus for Android does one thing brilliantly – push notifications. You’ll be thrilled with joy seeing how seamlessly Google has implemented push notifications appearing in your dropdown. Those of you used to the Facebook mobile app will find many similarities, while notifications seem to be even better implemented in the new social network. We’re sure that Google and Vic Gundotra, the main person behind G+, will put a lot of efforts into this, but even though it’s still in its early phases, the network’s mobile application look more like a hit than a miss.

Highlights:

+ Excellent push notifications

+ Privacy taken care of elegantly through circles

+ Instant Uploads of pictures puts images in the cloud instantly

+ Huddle exclusive to the mobile app

- The current version does not support multiple accounts (Version 1.0.2 should fix this.)

- No private messages as a dedicated feature.

- G+ is not allowed for people under 18.

Download Google+ for Android (Market link)

Posted in Software

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