Headlines

1 week ago

Google Maps' new timeline feature puts location history at your fingertips [Update]

13

If you've ever wanted a convenient way to keep track of your stops on your latest trip with Google Maps for Android, you may be in luck. Google appears to be quietly rolling out a new "Timeline" feature which allows you to take a look at your location history in detail.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

Hands-on with Flir One, a smartphone-powered thermal camera

23
Flir One

Thermal cameras are little more than a fun toy for most of us, but the companies and contractors that rely on the technology to be more efficient in their work are routinely faced with the tremendous cost associated with most of the hardware in the category. Over the last two years we've seen an effort to make thermal cameras smaller, cheaper, and in some cases even relying on your smartphone to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

The most recent advancement in this lineup is the Flir One, a microUSB dongle that promises to offer a decent thermal camera to those who don't need a $1,000 rig for every job. Here's a quick hands on of this new accessory and it's many features. Spoiler alert — it is also a fun toy.

This is not Flir's first effort in the smartphone accessory space, but it's easily the most polished — especially for Android phones and tablets. The microUSB dongle comes with a nice carrying case with a lanyard for when it's not in use, and it's small enough to be pocketable. Even when outside of the case, the two lenses on the front of the dongle are recessed, so accidentally dropping the camera doesn't immediately spell disaster. It's a fairly simple design, with a microUSB port on one side to charge the included battery and a power button to activate the camera on the other.

Getting this camera to work on your phone is a three step process. You need to open the Flir One app, connect the camera, and tap the power button. You'll see a notification asking for permission to allow data from the microUSB port, and once you've hit OK the thermal image will appear on the screen. From this point, you're using the cameras attached to the bottom of your phone for everything, and the camera on the back of your phone isn't active at all.

Flir's multi-spectral dynamic imaging tech uses one regular camera for detail and one Lepton camera for heat, placing them together in the app to create a single image. This means even though you can get plenty of thermal information with the lights off, the best pictures come from well-lit environments.

Flir One Shot

As you can see in this photo, there's occasionally some drift between the detail sensor and the thermal sensor on the camera. The focal point for these two cameras is best at two feet or greater to avoid this visual separation, but at that distance the detail is usually clear enough that you can figure out what you're looking at with relative ease, so if your goal is to use this camera to find heat or cold leaks it's unlikely to be a problem. You'll also note the resolution of the photo is fairly low by modern smartphone standards, but in fact the 640 x 480 image or video captured by Flir One is twice the size of its predecessor.

Flir One Screenshot

The Flir One UI is about as straightforward as you can get. There's a giant capture button for grabbing photos, a toggle switch in the bottom left for switching from photo to video, and a menu toggle for accessing a thermometer that draws a crosshair in the middle of the screen with the temperature, and some basic settings for camera quality. If you swipe from right to left, you'll get the last photo taken in a built in gallery mode, where you can edit and share photos. These photos are already saved to your local storage, and already accessible from your existing Gallery app, but if you want a quick look back at the quality of the last shot it's a handy swipe away.

Swiping from left to right accesses a panel with nine color map options for the viewer, allowing you to choose how the thermal information is displayed and captured. These options range from flat gray with tiny splashes of color for the warmest or coldest spots to full on Predator Vision, and just about everything in between. The Iron setting, which is the default when launching the app for the first time, is my personal preference. Since I'm not using this for anything other than making pretty colors on things, that doesn't count for much. They are more than just filters, though. There's potentially significant information in each option, depending on what you want from an image. Here, see for yourself.

Ultimately, $250 is still a steep ask for something like this if you're only using it for fun, but there's plenty about the Flir One that should be attractive to those who could use a thermal camera that is a third the cost of "cheap" thermal cameras. It's also $50 cheaper than the competing Seek thermal camera for Android, though we've not yet done a side by side to see which of these cameras is actually better. If you're looking for a decent thermal camera on a budget, or you're looking for a fun accessory for your Android phone, the Flir One seems is worth a closer look.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

Weekly Poll: How do you charge your phone?

125
Charging your phone

There are lots of ways to feed the ever-hungry battery on a modern Android phone. Chances are, most of us have a system of sorts that we use to make sure every time we pick our phone up and press a button or tap the screen to awaken it, it will be alive and ready to respond. This week, we want to hear how you do it.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

AT&T said to be introducing activation fee for Next and BYOD customers, raising upgrade fee on August 1 [Update]

117

Original story: According to a new report, AT&T may be raising its upgrade fee to $45, and introducing a new $15 activation fee for AT&T Next and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) customers, starting August 1. Droid Life is reporting that the $5 increase in upgrade fee, and $15 activation fee will apply to all customers beginning August 1, though those currently making payments under a Next Installment Plan won't have to pay on their next upgrade.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham — and the Most Important Question Of The Day

117

Let's face it: Donald Trump is a name I try to avoid whenever possible, and Lindsey Graham — the Republican senator from South Carolina — isn't a name I expected to type on Android Central anytime soon. But here we are.

See, Trump being Trump ended up with Trump doing what only Trump can do. And what Trump did in this instance was spit out Graham's phone number — his real number, apparently — during a speech today. The "why" doesn't matter. Fact is he did it.

And that leads us to the Most Important Question Of The Day:

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

Possible Moto G (2015) specs revealed in product listing

73

Ahead of Motorola's July 28 event, where we're expected to get a look at some upcoming smartphones, Swiss retailer Digitec has posted a store listing for the third-generation Moto G, giving us a peek at what we may see from Motorola next week.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

Grab a white Sony Smartwach 3 for less than $150 from Amazon

9

Amazon is currently offering more than a 40 percent savings on the white Sony Smartwatch 3, dropping the price to only $147.95. The biggest savings come on the white model, though all of the colors are currently on sale. You can grab a black one for $170.11, or the lime one for $159.95, all rather significant savings from the normal $249 price tag on the smartwatch.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

Goodnight Lad — an augmented reality bedtime story

9
Goodnight Lad

I don't usually bring my smartphone in for a bedtime story, but a recent Kickstarter reward I received gave me reason to consider it. Goodnight Lad is a young children's story where every page is extended through the use of augmented reality. You install the app, point your phone at the page, and the main character and his friends spring to life for your child.

It's a clever use of AR, not because it's a kids story, but because the experience is so complete. Each page can be read to your child through the app, and the Kickstarter included outfit changes and cards to extend the story and share with friends. The app itself is nice and easy to use, and it locks on to the AR targets on the page nice and fast. It's by far the most compelling and enjoyable AR experience I've seen in a while, right down to the interactive menu on the first page.

The book is now available for $20, though currently the extra cards from the Kickstarter don't appear to be available. There's a demo in the app if you're not quite sold on the idea yet, which you can check out through the Google Play Store. I wouldn't go so far as to call this the next big thing in bedtime stories, but for $20 it's a nice way to shake things up and have some fun while reading a book.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

Google acquires Pixate to help developers make better mobile app prototypes

0

Google has bought yet another small tech company. It revealed that it has acquired the Palo Alto, California-based Pixate, which was formed in 2012. Pixate creates tools for developers so they can make quicker and easier prototypes for mobile apps.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

Google Drive gets a new plug-in for Microsoft Office

13

Google has made it even easier to open your Microsoft Office, Word, and Excel files that are stored in your Google Drive account with a new plug-in. Using this plug-in, you can open your documents stored in Drive, then save them back to Drive once changes are complete. Not only can you edit existing Drive documents, but you can edit local files and create new documents, then save them to Google Drive as well.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

ZTE announces the Axon Phone, Axon Watch, and Spro 2 Smart Projector for China

23

ZTE has launched a set of new devices in China: the Axon Phone, Axon Watch, and Spro 2 Smart Projector.

The company says that the Axon Phone for China is similar to the model announced for the US, though with additional features specifically for China. The phone comes with a fingerprint scanner. The 32GB version of the Axon Phone costs 2,699RMB, while the 128GB version costs 3,888RMB, and both models can be pre-ordered now.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

Nokia reportedly will sell HERE Maps division to Audi, BMW and Daimler

22

Nokia's quest to sell off its HERE Maps division may have come to an end. A new report claims that the company is close to signing off on a deal that will sell the maps division to German-based car makers Audi, BMW and Daimler for over $2.71 billion.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

The Google Now Launcher, revisited

88
Google Now Launcher

How does Google's predictive card-equipped launcher measure up in 2015?

On June 28, 2012, we asked when Google Now would eventually become your home screen. On November 1 the following year, we got our answer. One of the big new features on Android 4.4 KitKat on the Nexus 5 was a re-vamped launcher that incorporated Google's predictive search and assistant app in its own panel off. The Google Now Launcher, as it was later named, followed HTC BlinkFeed as one of the first Android home screen setups to offer additional information as well as an assortment of icons and widgets.

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

Best waterproof pouch cases for Android

28

Stay calm and cool this summer with a waterproof case for your Android smartphone and tablet.

As things heat up this summer, most of us are making plans to cool off by taking frequent dips in our pool, or visiting nearby lakes and beaches. No matter where you end up, there's the constant reminder that your Android is in jeopardy the closer you get to water. And let's face it: most cases out there aren't designed to handle the sand, waves and salt. We've rounded up 5 waterproof cases for Android devices that allow you to get your summer splash on without the risk of water damage.

READ NOW: Best waterproof pouch cases for Android

TETHYS Waterproof Case

$9.99 Buy Now

This waterproof Android case comes in 2 different sizes to accommodate a variety of devices measuring up to 5.3-inches and 6.1-inches for a comfortable fit. Using a sturdy swivel lock system at the top, this case keeps everything you toss inside bone dry, whether you're floating on the surface or taking a dive. The front of the case is made of a completely clear TPU that allows you to use your touchscreen — perfect for checking missed calls, texts, or emails without exposing your device to the elements. The back features a smaller 2-inch window that leaves room for camera, as well as a 1/4-inch opening for an armband (not included). A lanyard is bundled with the TETHYS waterproof case which can be attached to the top. It's not ideal for talking on the phone nor does it float.

KONA Waterproof Case

$11.99 Buy Now

Fitting devices up to 6.3-inches, the KONA waterproof case sports a completely clear design from front to back and uses a swivel-lock system to keep water intrusion at bay. This pouch is much more basic as far as features go, but does have the ability to float and be used underwater in depths of up to 100ft. There's a premium clamp lanyard included, and the case is backed by an impressive 5-year warranty if you experience any wear after extended use.

MoKo Waterproof Tablet Case

$8.95 Buy Now

If you're planning on taking your tablet poolside, consider grabbing the MoKo waterproof tablet case — it fits devices up to 8.4-inches. The durable TPU casing with a snap and lock seal keeps your tablet and other items inside dry at all times. It's IPX8 certified up to 98ft, so you won't be restricted if you want to take some underwater photos. There's even a handy carry strap on the back along with an included lanyard that attaches to the top closure. The MoKo waterproof tablet case also comes in a variety of colors to choose from.

JOTO Waterproof Case

$8.99 Buy Now

For a more customized fit and look, the JOTO waterproof case accommodates devices up to 6-inches and features a TPU border around the edges. Both the front and back of the case share a completely clear window that makes it easy to utilize your touchscreen, take pictures, or record video above or under water. The case is IPX8 certified up to 100ft. and is secured shut by a snap and lock closure at the top, similar to the MoKo and TETHYS waterproof cases. The JOTO case floats while in the water and comes with a durable lanyard to wear around your neck or secure to your wrist while enjoying a swim. You can pick up this waterproof case in different color borders ranging from black and white to blue and magenta.

Aquapac Large Whanganui Waterproof Tablet Case

$41 Buy Now

Last up is Aquapac's largest waterproof case available, the Large Whanganui. This case is ideal for just about any tablet or for storing a variety of items inside like sunglasses, medkits, maps, money, you name it. It features the Aquaclip seal that uses 3 levers to twist open and closed when needed, and comes with its own shoulder strap for easy portability. Not only does the Large Whanganui float, but it's also completely submersible with an IPX8 rating. The front is clear for touchscreen use, while the back is more of a light gray — not camera friendly, although slightly transparent.

What are your favorite waterproof cases?

Are you already prepared to keep your Android devices safe from water this summer? We're interested in hearing what waterproof cases you're currently using or planning on picking up to keep your gadgets dry. Sound off in the comments!

Soak up some more info on summer accessories

Read more and comment

 
1 week ago

Catch Phil live tonight on TWiT's All About Android show

4

Tonight, starting at 5 p.m. PDT — that's 8 p.m. for those on the East Coast — you can catch our own Phil Nickinson live on the TWiT's All About Android show. It wasn't long ago he was on site talking Google I/O with the folks, and tonight he will be dialing in to talk even more Android.

You can expect a whole lot of talk about the latest news, hardware, apps, and much more. The livestream will be available right here, so be sure to tune in later tonight.

More: Check out Phil on AAA 215 from May 26, 2015

Read more and comment

 
Show More Headlines

Pages