We're a week removed from the Talk Mobile 2013 launch party in New York City. For those who were able to make it -- well, you know it was a bit of a rager, as the kids like to say. (And if they're not saying that, give it time. It'll catch on.) Just us and 600 of our closest smartphone nerd friends, men and women from all walks of life, coming together to hang out, have a couple beverages and swap a few smartphone stories.
Competitors take issue with Google's licensing terms for Android
Google and Android are once again the target of an antitrust investigation by the European Commission, this time because of allegations that Google used anticompetitive tactics to expand its mobile market share. While it is only an informal probe at this point, the EC is investigating claims from Google's competitors -- such as Microsoft and Nokia -- that it licenses Android to manufacturers below cost, giving it an unfair advantage. The allegations continue, stating that Google also makes demands of its licensees that they give specific placement to Google's other apps, such as Youtube, and not allow them to use other services, which again gives it unfair advantage.
Google makes Android open-source and licenses it to manufacturers for free, and while that may seem like a way to be absolved of any wrongdoing its competitors see it as a great example of Google's anticompetitive tactics.
Samsung's Android-based, professional-class camera gets leaked ahead of June 20 event
Just hours after Samsung co-CEO JK Shin confirmed that the company will release an Android-powered mirrorless camera, we're already seeing the first leaked promotional shots of the device. Vietnamese tech site Tinh te has published three images of a device bearing the name Galaxy NX -- a product that fuses Samsung's smart device and camera brands.
And it's a big honkin' camera. The Galaxy NX clearly a professional-class product, with interchangeable lenses, a viewfinder, a big grippy body and a large rear display -- a world away from last year's Galaxy Camera. According to Tinh te's post, the NX features a 20.3-megapixel APS-C sensor, 1080p video recording support, max ISO of 25,600 and a dual-core or quad-core Exynos CPU. The touchscreen back is a "high resolution" 4.3-incher, according to the post. No word on connectivity, but there's a signal strength meter on the display, suggesting it'll feature cellular radios of some sort.
If the Galaxy S4 Zoom was Samsung's answer to a consumer-level Android imaging device, then the Galaxy NX is squarely aimed at the professional market, and may attract attention from high-end users who were underwhelmed by the Galaxy Camera's performance. We can only speculate as to the eventual price (we imagine it won't come cheap), but whatever it costs, we're eager to get our hands on the Galaxy NX at Samsung's June 20 "Premiere" event.
More pics after the break, and at the source link below.
An updated notification interface is now rolling out to Google+ on the web and through the official Android app. First up, notification sync is coming to Google's social network, and reading or dismissing a notification on one device or platform will register the change across all platforms. (Google recently announced something similar for Cloud Messaging in Android at Google I/O.)
And the notification UI has been given a fresh coat of paint, too. A new bell icon makes it easier to see if there are any new notifications waiting, and notifications are grouped based on whether they've been read or not.
Google's also used this opportunity to roll out some new features and tweaks elsewhere in Google+. For instance, it's now possible to delete photos from directly in the "photos" view. Reshares are now shown alongside comments and +1's in the post view. And the left-hand menu has been redesigned to fit with the new look seen in other Google apps, such as Gmail.
The new version of Google+ is being rolled out gradually on the web and Android. Shout out in the comments and let us know if you're seeing the update yet.
We've found ourselves plenty impressed with Google Play Music of late, but one area of concern has been with mobile data usage. Looks like that's being addressed in the most recent update (version 5.0.1052J, for those of you keeping track), along with some other improvements.
Of the greatest interest to us is the addition of "new settings for mobile network bandwidth usage." Taking a quick look at the updated app, you have now have a "Mobile networks stream quality" section in the settings with three options -- low, normal and high, and there's definitely a noticeable difference between the best and worst quality.
As carriers keep pushing us away from unlimited data plans -- and they've been pushing a lot harder over the past year or so -- that's become a cause for concern when you're away from the relative comfort and safety of Wifi. Google says this new version also reduces overall data usage, which is a good thing.
$79.99 up-front for new customers, $99.99 for upgrades, on Sprint and AT&T
Amazon sends word that tomorrow (Friday, June 14) it'll be holding a one-day sale on the Sprint and AT&T HTC One. On either network you'll pay a reduced price of $79.99 if you're a new customer, or $99.99 if you're upgrading -- either being a significant saving over the standard up-front cost for HTC's latest.
If you're interested, keep an eye on the links below over the next day or so --
The naysayers were wrong in 2006 — is this Google's latest genius move?
The rumors turned into official news earlier this week. Google has acquired Waze, a social mapping and navigation company. Most industry pundits are aware of speculation that Apple and Facebook also were interested buyers. Google emerged as the winning bidder. I think this solidifies their position as a forward thinking leader in mobile computing.
The computing industry is quickly shifting to mobile computing. Just look at Mary Meeker’s D11 presentation slides showing how the iPad has already overtaken volumes of notebook and desktop PCs (separately, not the combined number). Mobile is now so important that major new services are commonly launched as mobile-only. Waze, Vine and SnapChat are a few good examples.
Google has been a mapping leader ever since it first launched Google Maps. Remember MapQuest before that? When Google Maps came out the interface was dramatically better! Directions were awesome. Satellite imagery was added. Google started mapping the world’s streets with super fancy cameras to create Street View.
When I was a kid we had none of this. We had paper maps and chicken-scratch directions that someone might give to you over the phone. No GPS, no mobile devices, no nothing. Here we are many years later and the paper map industry is all but dead.
I think we are at the very early stages of Google making money from its mapping assets. Yeah, you’ll see some sponsored ads, but I doubt this is a serious money-maker. It reminds me very much of YouTube, which Google also acquired in 2006 for $1.65 billion. At the time people thought Google was insane. They said YouTube could never make any money.
It isn't perfect, but All Access is a step closer than anything else I've found
Like many people this week, I received an email from Google Play as a gentle reminder that my free trial for Google Play Music All Access was about to end, and that the subscription I signed up for will be charged in a couple of days. "Wow, it's been a month since Google I/O?" was my first reaction. Indeed, it has been a month, and now I was faced with the task of evaluating whether or not I was receiving more than $7.99 worth of value out of my pending monthly payment to Google.
I don't listen to a whole ton of music, I'm not too particular about what I listen to and I rarely find myself buying music at all. Before Google released All Access I primarily relied on a mixture of Pandora (well, about 90-percent of the time) along with my own music collection uploaded to Google Play Music. The draw of a subscription service like Spotify or Rdio just wasn't there for me because at about $10 per month I didn't see the value in them -- I wasn't buying much music anyway, so how is this a good deal?
But, at least for now, Google's going to be getting $7.99 per month from me.
Water-resistant, dust-proof phone comes in two colors; preorders start June 14
AT&T (as it was expected to do so) today announced that it'll carry the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, in stores June 21 for $199 with a two-year contract. Preorders start June 14. The Active -- essentially a water-resistant version of the Galaxy S4 that AT&T already carries -- comes in Urban Gray or Dive Blue and sports a 5-inch TFT display with Gorilla Glass and runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It's powered by a quad-core processor and has an 8-megapixel camera 'round back.
Along with a more rugged build, the buttons on the front are all physical, instead of a mix of capacitive and physical.
Also on board is Samsung's suite of apps and customizations, same as on the original Galaxy S4, such as Air View and Air Gesture, Smart Pause and a host camera tweaks, such as Erase Shot, Drama Shot and Story Album. It's also got the Multi Window and for true multitasking, and it has the Samsung SAFE Enterprise security suite. The Infrared controller is still there, as well, so you can control your rugged TV in your rugged home with this rugged device.
'Samsung will release our latest mirrorless camera that runs on Google’s Android software,' JK Shin tells Korean press
It seems the Galaxy S4 Zoom won't be the only imaging product on show at Samsung's "Premiere 2013" event in London next week. Co-CEO JK Shin has confirmed to the Korean press that the event will also play host to a next-generation Galaxy Camera device. Speaking with the Korea Times, Shin said "Samsung will release our latest mirrorless camera that runs on Google’s Android software" at the June 20 event. The publication refers to the upcoming shooter as the "Galaxy Camera 2," though it's unclear whether Shin himself confirmed this as the official name.
A mirrorless system would imply significantly improved image quality and some kind of interchangeable lens support, something we've yet to see on any Android camera currently on the market. (Polaroid announced a similar product back at CES, but has been quiet in the following months.) Such a device would address one of our main concerns about the original Galaxy Camera, specifically it's disappointing image quality, considering its relatively high price.
Our interest is well and truly piqued by the prospect of a high-end, mirrorless camera running Android. We'll be live from London next week to test out the "Galaxy Camera 2" and a host of other Samsung devices.