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Chromebooks for Education reaches 2000 schools, adoption rate doubles in just three months

Posted by wicked February - 3 - 2013 - Sunday Comments Off

chrome

Chromebooks for Education looks like it’s finally receiving the adoption it deserves. In the latest post on Google’s official Enterprise blog, the company has proudly announced that 2,000 schools are now using Chromebooks in classes, a 100% increase in just three months.

Jaime Casap, global education evangelist at Google, has listed a few schools that have recently jumped on the bandwagon as part of this significant achievement: Transylvania County Schools in North Carolina arranging for 900 devices, St. Thomas Aquinas High School deploying 2,200 devices for its one-to-one laptop program, and school network Rocketship Education in San Francisco Bay Area bringing in 1,100 Chromebooks to boost their transformative teaching method. No other schools are mentioned, which invites the likelihood that other schools are only deploying a few hundred as part of a trial.

The blog post continues to talk about how the year 2012 was a good year to kick-start learning through the web platform and the use of technology by students and teachers for collaboration in class, from home, and with global reach. At the 2013 Florida Education Technology Conference, where Casap was among many who hosted a panel, educators shared how the web allowed tech support internships, remote collaboration, and students becoming digital leaders. Casap has also visited London and one of the most important education technology conferences – BETT – where educators who adopted the Chromebook have related similar benefits for students.

There are a couple of reasons as to why Chromebooks are an excellent choice among educational institutions. For one, the devices can be bought at bargain prices such as Acer’s C7 that only costs $199. Savings can reach up to $4000 throughout a three-year ownership according to Google’s estimates. Note that that calculation is just for a single device alone. Another perk is the Chromebooks’ built-in security. A checkup on system boot certifies that all encrypted data has not been tampered and will automatically perform repairs once malicious software is found to corrupt the system. Don’t forget the suite of cloud-based services by Google (Gmail, Google Docs, etc.) as well as apps in the Chrome Web Store that are specialized for education.

Acer Chromebook

The academe is not the only place where the Chromebooks are enjoying healthy sales. Acer reportedly puts Chromebooks to be one of its strong and successful products. In contrast, the company president Jim Wong has commented on how the launch of Windows 8 failed to bring back growth to the market. Other companies such as Lenovo and HP have also shown interest for Google’s cheaper alternative to Windows-based laptops.

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Android web share falls, Apple rises, and what that really means

Posted by wicked February - 2 - 2013 - Saturday Comments Off

web share The Android vs iOS battle will continue until one of them is gone. Given that is slowly losing its grasp on the mobile market, we’d be willing to bet that it won’t be Android that goes down first. However, new studies have come out showing that Apple controls the web share by nearly 40%.

Let’s observe the facts. Since November 2012, Android web share has fallen 13% while Apple’s web share as gone up 1%. According to CNNMoney’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt, this trend actually began in October when the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini were released. This sparked skepticism that the shipping numbers that have been going around may be wrong.

For those who don’t know, the shipping numbers state that Android outsold iOS this year in both tablets and smartphones. More importantly, that Android now controls tablet market share as well as smartphones. This explains the skepticism that if Android is the king of every market share, then the web share should reflect that too. Since it doesn’t, well, you see where this is going.

So what does the increased web share actually mean?

The conclusion by some is that Android users simply don’t use their web browsers as much as Apple users do. That, or someone’s numbers are screwy. The problem is discerning which one is true. Since sales numbers seem to pop up out of nowhere, many believe that it’s the sales numbers that are skewed and that iOS is much more popular than Android. These people use this web share data as proof of that.

To put it bluntly, the web share information doesn’t mean squat when it comes to hardware sales. It simply shows that Apple fans use their browser way more than Android fans. It’s not a giant leap in logic to make. Consider that for months, the only way to access Google Maps on iOS devices was through the web interface. There are many similar bottlenecks to iOS that make people use their web browser. There is also the chance that Apple users just like their web browsers more often.

It’s impossible to correlate hardware sales to web share when dealing with titans like Apple and Android. Trying to use consumer habits to determine hardware sales is like saying people buy more sports cars because studies show sports car owners drive faster. It’s comparing apples to oranges and can lead to conclusions that aren’t always accurate.

Next time you see a web share graph, take it for what it’s worth. This one is showing more people on iOS use their web browsers and that’s it. It’s a measure of preference, not of dominance. No one should walk around stating that an operating system is more prevalent due to something like web share.  We’d love to hear from our readers on the subject. Do you think web share has any bearing on operating system sales and popularity?

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How is it to use Google Glass? An engineer gives us a glimpse of the interface

Posted by wicked February - 2 - 2013 - Saturday Comments Off

google glass girl Credit: DVF

No, we are not here to report that someone broke those restrictive NDAs that Google required their Glass Forge hackaton attendants to sign.

But we have a description of the interface of Google’s futuristic head mounted display, offered by an engineer that recently had the opportunity to try out the Google Glass.

Soumya Mohan, who used the Glass at a tech talk organized at Stanford, took to Quora to describe how the user interface looks and works. According to him, currently the interface is rather crude, only displaying a short “list menu with black background and words written in white”. Among the items in the menu, Mohan recalls  “Click a picture”, “Shoot a video” and “Voice call”.

The whole menu only included about 4-5 options, and Mohan was able to scroll through it by tilting his head. Other controls available were a small touchpad on the side of the glasses and voice command. (No word yet on that bone conduction tech revealed in the FCC Glass filling.)

Although the description given by Soumya Mohan doesn’t give us many details that we haven’t already known, it does suggest that at least the first iterations of the device will be crude devices. How crude? Well, remember those clunky old cell phones made by Nokia? The interface might be just as basic.

Still, all great products have humble origins, and once the Project Glass gathers steam, it will probably develop rapidly. We’re still a long way from the Project Glass: One day… video, but the ground has been broken.

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Get your Big Game on with Google’s Super Bowl collection of apps, books, and movies

Posted by wicked February - 2 - 2013 - Saturday Comments Off

Super bowl Au Kirk/Flickr

The Super Bowl (or El Plato Supreme if you watched Samsung’s teaser ad) is so close you can almost taste it, so Google thought it would be the right time to release a special Google Play collection dedicated to the Big Game.

Available here, The Super Sunday collection includes all that a self-respecting mobile football fan could wish for, from inspiring movies to football news apps, music from halftime starlet Beyoncé, and even an app that lets you rate beer (like football fans need an app to tell them which beer is good).

Here’s the description from the Play Store:

Get ready for the big game with this all-star collection of official NFL apps, inspirational football films, top coach biographies, halftime music and a special edition magazine. We have also tossed in a few things to do before and after kick off time — whether it’s making delicious snacks for a tailgate party or playing 3D simulation games while waiting for the next season to begin!

The apps in the collection include NFL Official and NFL Live Wallpaper, with some games to help you pass the time, such as Gameloft’s NFL Pro 2013. Other highlights are the special Super Bowl edition of Sports Illustrated and several discounted albums from Beyoncé.

Being the geeks that we are, we especially look forward to the ads that technology companies are preparing for halftime. Samsung’s commercial starring Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Bob Odenkirk shapes up to be pretty good. Until Super Bowl, watch the teaser (yes, an ad to the ad) here.

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T-Mobile to follow Sprint’s cue, launch prepaid service GoSmart nationwide soon

Posted by wicked February - 1 - 2013 - Friday Comments Off

GoSmart Believe it or not, Sprint has had prepaid service long before it’s recently released “Sprint Pay As You Go” plans. Using MVNO’s like Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, Sprint was able to keep people on their network, if not under their name. T-Mobile has been working on a similar strategy with MVNO’s like Solavei and Ultra Mobile. They’ll be adding GoSmart to their list of MVNO’s very soon.

According to Fierce Wireless, T-Mobile has been testing GoSmart in select market areas. Their plans are very cheap and very simple $30 gets you unlimited voice and text, $35 gets you all of the above plus unlimited 2G web, and $45 gets you unlimited voice, text, and 5GB of 3G web, with unlimited 2G web thereafter.

As for device selection, it’s much like the popular Straight Talk or the up and coming PlatinumTel. Customers can bring their own unlocked GSM devices to the network. If you’d rather get something new, GoSmart offers a range of very cheap devices that won’t impress anyone, but won’t break the bank.

Despite the lack of 4G and capped 3G, T-Mobile found that people actually really liked GoSmart. So much so that the big carrier intends to make the service nationwide sometime this month. It only makes sense, as more and more people are going prepaid these days.

Will GoSmart affect the T-Mobile and MetroPCS merger?

Probably not at all. T-Mobile has had a bunch of MVNO’s launching and it hasn’t affected their business with MetroPCS. So we anticipate that their merger is going just as planned. With the addition of a CDMA carrier to their network, it may not be long before we see T-Mobile MVNO’s with CDMA and GSM service. They would be among only a few that offer such a service.

We know most of our readers are power users, so the lack of 4G is probably a deal breaker. Is there anyone out there who things GoSmart is a bargain either for themselves or for a loved one?

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Hilarious: Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd team up to pitch ideas for Samsung’s “Big Game” ad

Posted by wicked January - 31 - 2013 - Thursday Comments Off

samsung super bowl ad

The Super Bowl is coming. We might get sued for saying that without the NFL’s express written consent, but we don’t care, because we’re fearless like that.

Along with the Big Game, comes the most disputed ad window of the year, when dozens of companies compete to air the most impressive ads. This year, Samsung has signed actors Seth Rogans and Paul Rudd to star in a two-minute ad that will air during the Super Bowl, and today we got a nice little preview of what’s to come on game day.

The ad is direct by Jon Favreau, and spoiler alert, it’s darned funny. Samsung’s products are not central, but we don’t mind. We’ll just let you enjoy it.

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Manga meets Android in “Sweet Android High-school” comic

Posted by wicked January - 29 - 2013 - Tuesday Comments Off

Sweet Android high school japanese manga

Geeks love Android and geeks love manga, so the new Japanese comic called “Sweet Android High-school” seems a match made in heaven.

Featuring characters that symbolize the major Android manufacturers, from Moto-Laura-chan (Motorola) to Soni-Eri-chan (Sony Ericsson), the new comic is published in the storied Japanese PC magazine ASCII.

Here’s the basic premise – Professor Google teaches at the Android highschool, where students include:

  • Moto-Laura-chan (Motorola)
  • Sam-Sung-chan (Samsung)
  • H-T-Syee-chan (HTC)
  • Elle-G-chan (LG)
  • Soni-Eri-chan (Sony Ericsson)

Sweet Android high school japanese manga

 

These are all international students, but Japanese manufacturers are represented by Sharp (Sharp-chan), Fujitsu-Toshiba (Fuji-Toru-chan), and Casio-NEC (Kashio-Nko-chan).

All the students are girls, depicted in typical manga fashion. They all wear distinctive signs that give away their identity; for instance, Moto-Laura-chan chews bubblegum and wears an M-shaped tiara in her blond hair, which resembles the Motorola logo.

Fittingly, Professor Google is married to Moto-Laura-chan, but worry not, he doesn’t give her any advantages over the other students.

Apple is represented too. As you would expect, Apple-kun attends a different high school and he constantly argues with, who else, Sam-Sung-chan.

If you want to learn more about Professor Google and the gang, head over to the source. There’s also a full description of each character on the Weekly ASCII website, in Japanese.

Sprint and Verizon Galaxy Note 2 have begun getting CyanogenMod 10.1 Nightlies

Posted by wicked January - 28 - 2013 - Monday Comments Off

cyanogenmod When a new device is supported by CyanogenMod, it’s always cause for celebration. The world renowned custom AOSP ROM is among the most popular custom ROMs in the world, with more than a million users worldwide. Now, they’re numbers will continue to grow as CM nightlies are available for the Verizon and Sprint Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

The GSM versions of the Note 2 have had CM support for some time. These include the international variant as well as T-Mobile and AT&T. So it’s really nice to see the CDMA variants get picked up as well. We know Sprint and Verizon owners will be really glad.

Since these are nightlies, the standard disclaimers apply. These are the bleeding edge of CyanogenMod development. So there is always the risk of features not working or the ROM itself having issues. Never to fear, nightlies are generated nearly every day with new code merges and bug fixes. So it’s only a matter of time before things get really stable.

Will there be any stable CyanogenMod builds in the near future?

We all know better than to ask for ETA’s. However, if these nightlies are anything like the nightlies for the AT&T and T-Mobile variants, then users will be delighted. Just because it’s a nightly doesn’t mean it is unstable, it just means the risk is there. So the only way to know for sure is to check out the Gerrit or try it out.

Head over to get.cm and get to downloading. Don’t forget the Gapps! Will anyone be flashing this tonight?

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Samsung Music Hub to finds its way to non-Samsung devices soon

Posted by wicked January - 27 - 2013 - Sunday Comments Off

samsung-music-hub

Samsung had big plans for its Music Hub app, which combines cloud storage, music store, and online radio in one place, when it was first announced last year. Currently available for the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2, the company not only planned to release this app for its extensive lineup of smartphones and tablets, but also other Samsung electronics including audio docks, Smart TVs, and Android-powered refrigerators. While these plans have yet to come to fruition, Samsung is already looking at the next step to further extend its stronghold in the Android arena.

Speaking to The Next Web, TJ Kang, SVP for Samsung Media Services, mentioned that the company plans to release Music Hub not only for its own devices, but those from other manufacturers as well. Further, the availability of the app, which is currently restricted to just six countries, will also be extended this year. Granted, there is no fixed timeline for such a rollout yet, and is only in the early stages of planning.

Though Samsung is king of the Android hill, this move is, in part, acknowledgement that other Android manufacturers exist, even if it may not feel that way at the moment. This will also pit Samsung against the likes of Google and Amazon who have similar apps available, as well as popular online music services like Rdio and Spotify.

musichub

The Samsung Music Hub has some great features (you can check out our video review here), with a premium subscription (at $9.99/month) giving you 100GB of cloud storage space. Unfortunately, with no specifics on expected release dates, we can only wait and see if and when the Samsung Music Hub makes its way to non-Samsung devices. While it may be a welcome addition, with the exponentially increasing popularity of apps like Google Play Music and Spotify, I hope that Samsung doesn’t suffer from a case of “too little too late.”

What are your thoughts? Are you looking forward to the Samsung Music Hub being available on your device? If you currently own a Samsung Galaxy S3 or Galaxy Note 2, do you use this app? If yes, share your experiences in the comments section below!

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Taking on mobile malware like a ninja (infograpic)

Posted by wicked January - 23 - 2013 - Wednesday Comments Off

malware
If something must be done, it’s best to take on that task like a boss. Or like a ninja. Both are perfectly acceptable ways to deal with stuff. However, one problem that’s affecting more and more smartphones is mobile malware. Now there is an infographic that helps you figure out what to do about it.

If you’d rather just get straight to the infographic, you can find it here. It’s quite informative and could help beef up everyone’s knowledge on malware.

It outlines such things as what malware is, where it comes from, and how it gets on your device. There are some statistics, like how over 50% of smartphone owners don’t have any malware protection. Perhaps the most important segment is how to handle it if your phone comes down with malware.

Unlike many infographics, this doesn’t suggest you download any specific anti-virus software or anything. So it doesn’t feel like an advertisement for anti-virus software like most do. Could this infographic be helpful? Let us know if you learned anything new!

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