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3 years ago

Skype update brings back 'classic' UI option for tablets

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Skype has just been updated to give users the option of selecting a "classic" UI instead of the new and improved tablet interface. The previous update to Skype added many new features and a more tablet-optimized interface overall, including a portrait UI for calling -- the curious part was the rest of the app was still locked in landscape mode. Skype is now backpedaling, sort of, by letting tablet users go back to a phone-style UI in the settings if they prefer. The new option is probably a better choice if you're on a smaller screen like the Nexus 7 that is often used in portrait.

10-inch tablet users are still better off with the new "tablet" UI because the larger devices are quite comical in portrait mode. Until Skype figures out how to do a responsive tablet UI that changes appropriately for landscape and portrait use, it's good to have this option. You can grab the update from the Play Store link at the top of this post.

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3 years ago

Nokia's new Windows Phone NFC writer app gives props to Google+

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How do you know you've started to make it as a social network? When Nokia, that misfit manufacturer that's keeping Windows Phone alive one Lumia at a time, adds Google+ to its new NFC tag application.

Our pals at WPCentral have the scoop on this one, but the gist is that you can create a tag to a Google+ link. Say, to the highly popular +Android Central page. That's a good sign for ye olde G+.

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3 years ago

Mobile Nations at MWC 2013: Day two podcast

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We're winding down here in Barcelona, as the major announcements draw to a close and we finish up our hands-on coverage of the new devices at Mobile World Congress. In our final MWC podcast, we discuss TouchWiz on a TV, the difference between a Fonepad and a Padfone, and whether a Photosphere is really a Photosphere if no-one's around to see it fall.

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Windows Phone --

Android --

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3 years ago

About that Google Settings app that appeared on your device today

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As part of its new Google+ sign-in initiative that went live today, Google pushed a silent update to the Google Play Services app to support the new feature, which also brought along a new app called Google Settings. Google Play Services updates in the background routinely, much like the Play Store itself, in order to have phones up to date and syncing properly. The updates don't usually install new apps, but there's nothing to worry about here, the Google Settings app is indeed supposed to be there.

That being said, it doesn't seem all that useful, as it just provides shortcuts to the settings menus of other apps on the phone -- like Google+, Maps and Location. These settings could all be accessed previously, but in order to have everything working out of the box and have a settings area set up for the new Google+ sign-in, Google had to push something out there. We may have preferred if there was some kind of notice of what was going on though.

Going forward it's likely that Google will use this app to house more than just a few settings shortcuts -- and the functionality could easily just be baked into the general OS settings as well. For now, just let it be -- at least the icon isn't too ugly.

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3 years ago

Pocket Casts 4: more than just a fresh coat of paint

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Pocket Casts has been around for some time, and is always part of the conversation when talking about podcast apps on Android. But like many other apps, it was long overdue for a redesign. This latest update, Pocket Casts version 4, has thrown the app back into the forefront of quality Android design. But the update is more than just skin deep -- underneath that design is a whole bucket of new features that are just as appealing as the visuals.

Hang around with us after the break, and take a look at the completely redesigned Pocket Casts 4.

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3 years ago

TuneIn Radio updated with new Google+ sign-in feature

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Google only just today announced their Google+ sign-in features that are opening up to app developers, but TuneIn Radio is one of the first out of the gate to implement it. Much as they were involved early on with Jelly Bean expandable notifications, the extremely popular radio streaming app is in on the ground floor with Google's latest features. 

To the user, it's exactly the same process as signing in via Twitter or Facebook, without the necessity of course to enter any login details. You choose which of your Google accounts you wish to sign-in with, and that's it. You're also presented with a check box allowing you to restrict who has access to content you share on Google+ -- although sharing something only you can see does seem a little, well, pointless. 

Google+ sign in isn't the only new feature in this update either. TuneIn Radio will now integrate with your calendar, so if you don't want to forget about that big soccer football game coming up, tapping the 'add to calendar' button will produce a handy reminder when the program is about to begin. Additionally, Chevrolet drivers with the MyLink functionality can now access TuneIn Radio directly from the car. Download the free version of TuneIn Radio can be found at the Play Store link above.

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3 years ago

Google+ sign-in coming to apps and web

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Google announced today that it is rolling out Google+ sign-in support for both apps and the web, giving users one-click login to third party services with their G+ account. Technically called "application sign-in", this new feature will replicate what many are used to with plain old Google sign-in, but now with enhanced features that come along with Google+. Similarly to the way sites and apps can now authenticate you with your Facebook or Twitter accounts, Google+ will now be an option when visiting sites that have integrated the service.

You get all of the perks of having site credentials tied to your Google Account, as well as the improved sharing functions that come along with Google+. When sharing from an app that has the service integrated, people that see the post on Google+ will be able to directly act on the item you shared -- for example sharing a radio program from TuneIn Radio will give a direct "listen" button right in the post, or sharing a listing on Open Table will give a button to view the restaurant's menu. This is very similar to the way Google already integrates app installs and music purchases into Google+ posts.

Developers that use Google+ sign-in on the web will also be able to offer users their Android apps directly from their own website, with a pop-up "install" screen that looks identical to the one found on the Play Store. About a dozen different sites are on board with this initial launch of the new application sign-in, with more on the way. It will be interesting to see how many apps take advantage of the new Google+ sign-in option and sharing improvements.

Source: Google Developers Blog

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3 years ago

Debug & Iterate team-up podcast: The future of human interface

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Marc Edwards of Bjango, Guy English of Kicking Bear, Loren Brichter of Atebits, Sebastiaan de With of DoubleTwist, and Rene Ritchie of Mobile Nations talk human interfaces of the future, including Siri, Google Now, Kinect, Leap, MYO, Project Glass, iWatch, Oculus Rift, and more!

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Book Cover

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Here's a more traditional folio case for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 -- the Book Cover. It's basically the same flip cover you can get for the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2. The difference here is it's a full shell that fits over the back of the tablet, as you can't remove the battery cover. So you gain a little thickness.

Note the hole for the front speaker/earpiece, so you can still listen to the conversation with the cover closed. But then you'd be someone holding an 8-inch tablet to your head, looking like a maniac. Don't be that guy.

Like just about every other flip case of this design, you can fold the cover back onto itself to make a little stand.

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3 years ago

Hands-on with the ASUS Padfone Infinity

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At the conceptual level, the ASUS Padfone series has always sounded cool, but it's never managed to translate that into mainstream success. Previous Padfones, though technically impressive, have been too expensive to win over consumers and carriers en masse. On top of that, ASUS has yet to present a really compelling use case for combining a phone with tablet dock.

Nevertheless, the Taiwanese manufacturer is back with a third Padfone iteration, the Padfone Infinity. The Infinity boasts superior specs, a redesigned, brushed aluminum chassis an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. But is that enough to justify this class of device? Check out our first impressions from Mobile World Congress after the break.

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3 years ago

NVIDIA shows off 5 new Tegra 4 optimized games at MWC

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With the announcement of the new Tegra 4 processor and devices, NVIDIA is looking to showcase what it is capable of by highlighting 5 new Tegra 4 optimized games in TegraZone. Burn Zombie Burn, Carie: Blood Mansion, CODEX: The Warrior, Dead on Arrival 2 and RU Golf have all been updated with enhanced graphics to show off just what makes Tegra 4 so much more appealing over other processors when it comes to playing games. NVIDIA is well known for partnering with game developers to release these high-end titles via the TegraZone, and these will kick it off for Tegra 4.

Hang with us after the break and see some impressive gameplay videos, as well as a screenshot gallery of the titles.

Source: NVIDIA

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3 years ago

Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Stand Pouch

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We've seen some Android tablets essentially ape the iPad's Smart Cover, which protects the screen while closed and doubles as a stand when folded in on itself. Samsung's gone a different route with the Galaxy Note 8.0 Stand Pouch.

Pouches in and of themselves are hardly new in the mobile space. But Samsung's here also doubles for a stand for the Galaxy Note 8.0. Slip the Note 8.0 into it (the inside is soft and warm and safe, like ... something soft and warm ... or at least soft) to keep things nice and safe.

The pouch -- notice how it's segmented here -- folds in on itself in the usual triangle manner. From there, you get a couple options for angles -- one high, for media viewing, the other low, say, for typing.

Samsung's got a host of colors -- I'm partial to the boring (but nicely textured) gray you see here.

We've got some more pics of the Samsung Stand Pouch after the break.

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3 years ago

Hands-on with the ASUS Fonepad

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Android has a long history of playing host to ridiculously large smartphones. First there was the Dell Streak. Next came the original Samsung Galaxy Note. And now in 2013 we have the ASUS Fonepad, a 7-inch tablet that's also a 7-inch phone. On first inspection the Fonepad looks a little bit like a another 7-inch ASUS tablet, the Nexus 7. But unlike that device it's also a full 3G/HSPA phone, complete with earpiece and microphone. That's right, you can hold this seven-inch slab of electronics to your head and make telephone calls.

Where other large smartphones -- including Huawei's gigantic Ascend Mate -- trim down their bezels to make them more pocket and hand-friendly, ASUS has chosen to incorporate a tablet-sized screen trim on the Fonepad. As a result, using the device as a telephone in the usual way is the binary opposite of ergonomic. If you felt awkward making phone calls on a Galaxy Note, that's nothing by comparison. Assuming you posses digits large enough to palm the Fonepad to your ear, you're going to look and feel like an idiot walking around with it pressed to your face.

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3 years ago

First look at the Galaxy Note 8 car dock

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So the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is a more-than-capable Android tablet, as well as as an oversized phone. And if you want to dock it in your car, Samsung's got you covered there, as well.

Yes, there's an official car dock for this phone/tablet hybrid. It's done in the usual Samsung motif of glossy black plastic, and the tablet fits snugly inside. We didn't see any specific car app installed on this Note on display, but you can find any number of them in the Play Store.

More: See our hands-on with the Galaxy Note 8.0

All in all, it's a stylish way to keep the Note 8.0 at hand in your vehicle. The trick will be to keep from creating an 8-inch blind spot on your windshield.

We've got one more pic after the break.

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3 years ago

Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy Grand

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With devices like the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note, Samsung has been an integral part of the push towards bigger screens on smartphones. But traditionally these larger, higher-resolution devices have been aimed towards the high-end, carrying expectedly high-tier price tags. Today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we saw a device that aims to defy that convention.

The Galaxy Grand is a mid-range smartphone with high-end ambitions. Its 5-inch screen and Galaxy Note-like aesthetic give it the appearance of a premium handset, though like most Samsung smartphones it’s bright, white shiny and plasticky. There’s no ‘S-Pen’ stylus to be found, but aside from that the Grand offers a fairly complete Samsung software experience. You’re getting the latest version of the company’s TouchWiz UI, which runs on top of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. The software package even includes newer additions like multi-window support -- Samsung’s method for running more than one app on-screen at a time.

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