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Huawei Ascend Mate2 will not get Android KitKat

Posted by wicked October - 30 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

In our excitement over Android 5.0, we might have been guilty of forgetting that there are those who still live in a Jelly Bean world. As if to douse cold water over enthusiasm, Huawei‘s US outfit has just announced that its previous flagship, the Ascend Mate2, will not even be getting Android 4.4 KitKat. That practically puts an end to the software life of a smartphone that was practically just launched in January this year.

To say that Hauwei’s US fans are disappointed would be an understatement. The comments that followed the announcement is almost filled to the brim with vitriol, and, really, who can blame them? The Ascend Mate2 has been flagged as the company’s first proper entry into the US market, and yet already it has committed a major blunder. The only good thing that one can take from this is that Huawei at least had the guts to actually tell their users that they are pulling the plug as far as Android updates go. Definitely the opposite course that many Android OEMs are taking lately.

Perhaps it makes matters worse that Huawei offers no reason why it won’t put KitKat on the device. And it certainly can’t be due to hardware, because the Ascend Mate2 is pretty much a standard phablet, with a gigantic 6.1-inch 720p display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, a 13 megapixel rear camera, a 5 megapixel (selfie friendly) front shooter, and a bountiful 4,050 mAh battery.

The company blog does mention users can “expect superior hardware with the latest software going forward”, implying they’ve decided to simply drop the ball in order to focus on, say, the Ascend Mate7, it’s latest flagship. Focusing on your star device is understandable. But abandoning the previous one is definitely perplexing. Huawei will undoubtedly take a hit for this, if not financially, at least in credibility. It will most likely still provide some updates here and there as far as its own software is concerned, but for Android, this is the end of the line.

SOURCE: Huawei

Google Wallet now accepts recurring transfers, shows Low Balance alerts

Posted by wicked October - 30 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Google is busy these days updating native Android apps, thanks to the new Material Design and the highly-anticipated release of the Android 5.0 Lollipop. Because of the Lollipop’s sweetness, we can expect to see more apps to be updated in the coming weeks.

The latest to get an update is the Google Wallet app. If you’ve been using the app for shopping, you may have already forgotten once or twice to add money to your Wallet Balance. It can be frustrating but with the updated app, you can automatically add money and you won’t run out of credits whenever you need to pay for something.

Adding Wallet Balance automatically is made possible through recurring bank transfers. It will require no Google Wallet fees. This new secure feature will give you money fast so you don’t have to worry of having a low balance. Just schedule a bank transfer so your Google Wallet will receive money automatically at a given date.

To notify you of a low balance on your Google Wallet, the developers also added Low Balance alerts. Wallet Balance doesn’t require any minimum balance but you always need to have enough to shop and pay for items. You can now keep track of Wallet Balance and the app will tell you how much you still have.

Download Google Wallet from the Google Play Store

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SOURCE: Google Commerce

Sony Xperia Z3 now available for purchase through T-Mobile

Posted by wicked October - 30 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

While those who pre-ordered the Sony Xperia Z3 through T-Mobile are now finally enjoying their new smartphone, those of us who did not are now finally able to order online as the official purchasing period has begun. The new flagship device from Sony has been gaining good reviews and now you can get your own by signing up with the US carrier (if you aren’t with them yet). While the device doesn’t come anymore with the free digital copy of DriveClub (since it was only for pre-orders), the Xperia Z3 has so much going for itself.

The smartphone sports a 5.2-inch 1080p display and runs on a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor. It has a pretty impressive 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory, with space for more with its micro SD card slot. Mobile photography enthusiasts will have a field day with its 20.7MP main camera and the capability of taking videos with 4K resolution. Sony also has a whole slew of built-in photography and video apps to make your multi-media imagery all the more fun to use and share.

Even if you won’t have DriveClub, Sony is throwing in a few freebies when you buy the Xperia Z3. You’ll get 6 free movie downloads: 22 Jump Street, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Captain Phillips, 30th Year Anniversary Edition of Ghostbusters, and Moneyball. You’ll be able to download the films until February 28, 2015. And with the front facing stereo speakers of your smartphone, watching the movies would be a nice experience.

You will be able to purchase the Xperia Z3 through T-Mobile for $0 down and just pay $26.25 per month for the next two years. But if you want to pay for it in its entirety, it will cost you its full retail price of $630.


SOURCE: T-Mobile

Google Drive, Docs for Android updated with better search, PDF viewer

Posted by wicked October - 30 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Today is all about native Google Android apps getting updated. The impending arrival of the Android 5.0 Lollipop brings new changes to Google Drive. Aside from the Material Design makeover, the Android app gets updated with a few things: Improved Search, Better Sharing, and Enhanced PDF Viewer.

The Google Drive app for Android makes it easier for the user to search and share documents, PDFs, and photos. The search tool shows results as each letter is typed into the search box.The app also features an ‘Incoming’ tab that shows newly shared documents. Tap on it and you’ll see files shared with you recently by your contacts.

With the new PDF Viewer, you can find, select, and copy text right on the document. No need to open another app as the latest Google Drive app features the built-in viewer. Sharing docs with Google Drive is made even better because you can now write a message and send a note to people you’re sharing the file with. Ask for feedback and hear from them immediately.

Docs can also be shared easily to the public by simply turning on link sharing. Just like in the web version, you can set access for your contacts to view, comment, or edit. Links can be copied automatically to the clipboard so you can paste it anywhere you need it. This option is under the Share & export menu.

If you are using a Bluetooth keyboard, you can use shortcuts while editing Docs. In Sheets, you can also tap and drag to select cells when you editing a formula.

Download Google Drive app from the Google Play Store

SOURCES: Google Drive, Google

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Google Play Movies and TV app gets updated

Posted by wicked October - 30 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Who doesn’t want to end a tiring day watching your favorite TV show or a movie? I couldn’t think of one because most geeks I know are entertainment buffs too. Android fans should get more excited now that Google just updated the the Google Play Movies and TV app.

Watching movies or shows on your TV using your ehem, new Nexus Player or Chromecast is made even better this time. Google added sountrack and actor cards to be displayed on your smartphone or tablet while watching. More information can be shown on you mobile device’s screen as you watch the action on your TV screen.

No need to search Google or IMDB for information about the people you’re watching on screen. The updated app will show the information you need to know right on your phone or tablet. Not all movies and shows will show information though. Only those with Info Cards badge on the Google Play Store will have the trivia you need. Note that Info Cards are also expanding to other countries so more can see those stuff.

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Since most Android apps are being updated to the latest Material Design guidelines, Google Play Movies also has a new look. The app now features smoother transitions and bigger images. Looking for a new movie is easier and more enjoyable with the updated “Watch Now” tab. Watching a movie trailer can be done directly within the app too.

The updated Google Play Movies & TV app will be released officially next week. Stay tuned.

SOURCE: Android Blog

Vietnamese video shows Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Gold edition

Posted by wicked October - 30 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

As it is, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has already been receiving rave reviews (and heavy marketing play) so it’s not surprising that people are clamoring for more of it. But would you plop down a ton of cash for a 24-carat Gold edition of this fabulous phablet? That is a “dilemma” that might become a reality soon as a video from a Vietnamese tech channel seems to have outed a gold edition, but we’re still not sure if this is a legit product or maybe someone is just wishing for something like it.

The Gold Galaxy Note 4 makes an appearance in the YouTube channel “SChannel” but since it’s in Vietnamese, we’re still not sure about the details of this product, or whether it is a real one at that. The only clue we have so far is that it has “Distributed by Golden Mobile” engraved on the side. Maybe it is a very special edition created only for Asian markets. Maybe it is an exclusive golden device that will be given as gift items. Maybe a third-party partner will be manufacturing it for a certain market. Maybe it’s just the fevered imaginings of a Galaxy Note 4 fan who has a penchant for gold-plated phablets.

Whatever it is, based on the video, it sure is a beauty. Well, if you’re into having golden devices that is. It shows off the Galaxy Note 4 in all its 24-K glory. But aside from the color, it looks like any other Note 4, black in the front and back but with its metal carvings being the one with all the gold. We assume also that it has the same specs as released by Samsung, with its 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, Snapdragon 805 / Exynos Octa-Core processor, 3GB of RAM, 16MP main camera, among other things.

Pricing and availability of this supposed 24-K edition of the Galaxy Note 4 is unknown at this time. We sure would like to see Samsung confirm first if this is an actual product before we even start dreaming of owning this device.


VIA: G Games

Project Ara boots up! DevCon2 set for 14 January 2015

Posted by wicked October - 30 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

When Phonebloks revealed its vision last year, people swooned at the dream but they stopped at just that: a dream. A pipe dream even. But now, more than 12 months later, with Google also at the helm, that dream is almost a reality. Phonebloks went to Boston to visit NK Labs, the guys designing Google’s Project Ara, to see how things are coming along with the prototype . And guess what? It works!

It’s far from done, of course, but this is the first functional prototype of Project Ara seen in a form that closely resembles the vision that the likes of Phonebloks and Motorola, now Google, ATAP had for the modular smartphone. You plug in modules, functional components, as needed. For the first prototype, the modules consist of the LED display module, battery, application processor, loudspeakers, and a USB charging port. And voila! You get the first public demonstration of a Project Ara device booting up, caught on video!

Impressive and exciting as that may seem, there’s still a bit of work to be done. In particular, in Spiral 1, the first iteration of the platform, there isn’t much space left around for developers as the base modules occupy about 50 percent of the area. The much awaited Spiral 2 prototype solves that problem and gives developers much more room to play in and offer functionality to users. That prototype will be shown to the public for the first time at the second Project Ara Developer Conference next year.

Dubbed DevCon2, the conference will be held on 14th of January. More than just an update from Google’s side of things, it will also showcase progress made on third-party modules for the device. A big and healthy ecosystem of such modules is necessary for Project Ara to truly take off. And perhaps more interesting to end users, Google plans on using the conference to reveal its 2015 market pilot for Project Ara, hinting that the first truly modular commercial smartphone might be in consumers’ hands next year.

SOURCE: Phonebloks, Google

Microsoft Health app goes live ahead of Microsoft Band [UPDATE]

Posted by wicked October - 30 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Everyone’s getting into fitness these days, which is a good thing of course, from actual fitness companies to tech giants like Google and Apple. Microsoft, who is increasing its efforts at remaining relevant, naturally doesn’t want to be left behind. It has been known, or rather leaked, that Microsoft is working on its own fitness-centric wearable, and part of that plan has already gone out today in the form of the Microsoft Health app.

As a fitness app, Microsoft Health might not be too impressive. You’ve got your usual assortment of activity and health tracking, including steps, calories burned, quality of sleep, and heart rate. There are also extra features like Guided Workouts, e-mail previews, and calendar alerts. Basically your essential functionality to monitor your moving, and sleeping, activities and progress.

Perhaps more interesting is what the app almost doesn’t mention: The Microsoft Band. This is the expected Microsoft-branded fitness wearable. Although there is no actual device yet at the time of this writing, this is confirmation that there will be one soon. From the feature set given above, one can deduce that the Band will also have a heart rate monitor. The app is cross platform, available also on iOS and Windows Phone, so you can expect the band to work with almost any device in the market. For Android smartphones, they should be running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean or higher. And it is courtesy of the iOS version that we are able to take a glance at what the Microsoft Band might look like.

It’s not exactly impressive but is quite in line with almost every other smartband in the market today. The app notes that users will be able to personalize it, probably with color schemes or wallpapers. Aside from the time, there is a possibility that the display will also show notifications from paired smartphones. It will be interesting to see what other features Microsoft has for the wearable device and, more importantly, if it will be able to make a dent in a quickly saturating market.

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[UPDATE] Re/code has more juicy tidbits about the Microsoft Band. In addition to the usual sensors mentioned above, it seems there will also be a UV sensor for detecting sun exposure, as well as a galvanic skin sensor for measuring stress levels. The fitness band will be selling for $199 and is expected to go live tomorrow.

Download: Microsoft Health on Google Play Store

Nexus 6 available for pre-order, immediately out of stock

Posted by wicked October - 30 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

The awaited Nexus day has arrived! Or has it? The Nexus 6, Google’s first phablet and an acknowledgment of the ridiculed device size, has finally gone on pre-order from Google Play Store after a still unexplained delay relative to the Nexus 9 and Nexus Player. But alas, even then things are not so peachy. In less than 24 hours, the smartphone, both the 32 GB and the slightly more expensive 64 GB kind, have been marked as out of inventory already.

On one hand, it’s not hard to see the Nexus 6 selling like pancakes. It has many things going for it, except probably the size. One, it’s a Nexus device. Two, it’s the first Nexus device from Motorola. This potent combination has led to a smartphone that bears the marks of a Moto X and yet has even more powerful hardware, like a 5.96-inch Quad HD AMOLED screen, a 2.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805, a 13 megapixel f/2.0 rear camera with Optical Image Stabilization, and a 3,220 mAh battery with Motorola’s Turbo Charging assist.

On the other hand, sold out in less than a day? Either Google has some serious supply issues, which is unlikely, or something else is up. Given that this isn’t the first time this thing happened, we’re just left wondering and scratching our heads as to the true issues behind this brief appearance. The Nexus Player similarly went through such a phase, but that was immediately attributed to the device’s lack of FCC blessing. The Nexus 6, on the other hand, has been sighted there since Monday. Perhaps a new marketing strategy to drum up hype and anticipation for the smartphone? Hopefully not.

Regardless of the reasons, buyers who didn’t make it through the extremely short window are left with no other recourse than to wait. For how long, only Google, and perhaps Motorola, knows. Any pre-order delay will likely cause a delay in shipping also. There are hopes that the Nexus 9 and Nexus Player, along with Android 5.0 Lollipop, will start shipping next week, but a mid-November date for all of these is starting to look more plausible.

SOURCE: Nexus 6 on Google Play Store (32 GB Midnight Black), (64 GB Midnight Black)

YouTube offers live broadcast capabilities for Android mobile

Posted by wicked October - 29 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

App developers can now add another functionality for the apps they’re creating as YouTube announced their WatchMe for Android project, where live broadcast capabilities can now be added within the app itself. Although still in the experimental stage, developers can access the project through GitHub and customize the WatchMe features for whatever you’ll be using it for (let’s hope not for nefarious reasons). Some brands have already applied this to their existing apps and it just might enhance even more your mobile experience.

This announcement is of course targeted to developers but its impact on the user when it will be applied is pretty interesting. YouTube creators who have been using the live broadcast feature on their own channels are familiar already with how this is useful for them as they either do their video demonstrations or share with the world their artistic talents. But now you will be able to do it within an app, on mobile, and with the ability to control starting, stopping, viewing and sharing from your Android phone.

Sony Xperia’s Live on YouTube app has already been using this feature, allowing Z2 users to share their special moments live with the rest of the world or even with just select friends in a private mode. Meanwhile, HTC’s RE camera, an accessory that you use to take videos together with your smartphone has also integrated live streaming into the app accompanying it.

The YouTube WatchMe for Android uses several APIs, like YouTube Data API v3, YouTube Live Streaming API, Google Play Services and Plus API. For developers to be able to use the app, they need to sync the GitHub repo, and then enable the APIs in the console and then do their other technical mojo. YouTube reminds users though that it is still in the experimental stage, so don’t expect it to be smooth sailing all the time.


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