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3 years ago

Internal doc says Sprint's Galaxy S4 will see KitKat update starting Feb. 13

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Update to Android 4.4 also enables support for Sprint MVNO Zact Mobile

Not a lot of details here, but this tip says the one detail everyone with a Sprint Galaxy S4 has been waiting for — a date for the KitKat OTA.

Per this internal document, the update should be available starting February 13 and will also enable support for Sprint MVNO Zact Mobile. You'll need to make sure you're on the current build of the software and have everything stock and proper to get this one. Hit the forums if you need any help there.

We hope this pans out, and Sprint Galaxy S4 users have an extra-happy Valentine's Day.

Thanks, Anon!

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3 years ago

Weekly Photo Contest: Night

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Show off your nighttime photography skills this week

We're on a roll with our weekly photo contests, giving away a lot of great prizes for folks who turn in amazin photos each week. Going with another broad prompt that should yeild some great entries, this week you'll be taking pictures that fit the theme "night." We've done a low light photo contest several weeks back, but we're looking for some full-on nighttime shots this time around.

Entries this week will be in the running for an unlocked BLU Life One X phone — and we have just one winner this week, so make that submission great.

Entering is easy. Just drop your entry in a forums post at the link below. Tell us what Android you used to get the picture, and any back story you want to add to it. We'll pick a winner Tuesday (February 18) night at 11:59 PM ET, and announce them on the blog with next Wednesday's contest.

Enter this week's photo contest

  • Pictures must be taken with an Android device
  • Pictures must be uploaded to the contest thread. I'm not running all over the Internet to track them down.
  • You have to tell us what device you used to take the picture, and any special software you might have used. Editing your pictures is fine — this is art.
  • You must have used a valid email address to register here at AC, so I know how to contact the winner.
  • Only one entry per week per person.

Good luck, everyone!

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3 years ago

Grab the custom HTC One Double Dip case of your dreams

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Come up with your own wildly colorful concoction to keep your One safe

Who said a phone case had to be boring? HTC has now started to offer HTC One owners the chance to build their own custom Double Dip case with a variety of color options for you to choose from. Some bright, some not so bright. 

Six colors, three parts of the case to customize, and you can be as wild or conservative as you like. One you've created the case of your dreams, it'll cost you $29.99 to have it sent out. It's no Moto Maker, sure, but it's a nice touch if you're not so fond of HTC's own creation

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3 years ago

Moto X — six months on

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Our top Android phone of 2013 (and then some) revisited — and it's held up quite nicely.

It's not often that I use one smartphone for six months straight. I'm not supposed to. We have too many good phones come through here. And inevitably I see something shiny that pulls my attention away.

But I keep coming back to the Moto X.

On paper, there's a lot about this phone that shouldn't last. A 720p display? That's so 2012. Not the latest buzzword-friendly processor? DOA. And Motorola? The company that was (and still is) bleeding money and sat out much of 2013 after being purchased by Google? Who knew what to expect. And now Motorola's been sold off.

But there's still the Moto X.

We've joked that the Moto X was the most overhyped Android phone since the last overhyped Android phone, and that's mostly true. I've been using this phone as my daily driver since August. Let's take a look at what's made it so good, what's good enough, and what didn't live up to our expectations.

The Moto X hardware, six months on

It was hard not to be excited about the Moto X in terms of hardware. Let's start out front.

Never thought I'd say this again — but I'm OK with a 720p display.

A 4.7-inch display — big, but not huge — same as what we'd enjoyed in the Nexus 4 for most of the previous year, but in a slightly smaller body. It's "only" a 720p display. But for being a lower resolution than what you'd expect from a flagship phone in 2013, it was very capable. Maybe not as great as what LG or HTC have done, but very much useable. Having to push fewer pixels means you're going to save on battery, period. Not everyone can get away with that trade-off, but Motorola managed to.

The AMOLED display also brought us one of the cool new software features — Active Display, which we'll talk about in a bit.

The cliche of "feels great in the hand" is very much a subjective measurement. But for me, Moto X has fit my hand better than just about any phone since the fabled Nexus One. A lot of that has to do with the curve on the back of the phone. It's subtle, but noticeable — and it works. The dimpled Motorola logo is a little gaudy, but damned if I didn't find myself quickly placing my index finger there. The curved back also allowed for a new kind of "stepped" battery from LG — allowing for more capacity and less wasted space.

On-screen buttons on the display, and volume and power buttons on the right side of the phone — where they belong. No having to reach up to the top of the phone.

Being able to create a custom phone is a win for the customer, but it should have been available to all at launch.

And you can't talk about the look of the phone without mentioning MotoMaker, Motorola's Moto X customizer. Different colored backs, fronts and accents, with stenciling on the back, and a custom boot message. You can't not like choice like that. And while Moto Maker sadly was an AT&T exclusive for the first few months — a mistake we'd implore the company to not make should it try this again — it finally reached more folks before the end of the year.

And then there's the wood. Actual, organic wood backs. Motorola first showed them off at the launch event in August, but we weren't able to purchase them until December — and even then just bamboo, for another $100. (Yes, bamboo is grass, not wood. Don't get us started.) It's gimmicky — and apparently the woods are more "wood-like" than actual samples — but it's still a really cool option. Thumbs up. Very cool. It is more slick than the soft-touch backs, though.

Not sure if this was because my first Moto X was slightly pre-release, but some of the blue has rubbed off and turned yellow on the corners. Thumbs down. No good.

Either you worry about the Moto X specs on paper, or you don't. Either way, it runs just fine.

The internals have been another surprise. Again, not the best on paper. Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro — no slouch, but a good generation behind — at 1.7 GHz with a dual-core Krait CPU and a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU. Plus, a natural-language processor, and a contextual computing processor. If you're counting along, that's eight cores. And so Motorola gave birth to the X8 Mobile Computing System. That's different than an "octa-core" processor, a fact lost on some.

I've never been one to worry too much about benchmarks or how things look on paper. They either work great or they don't. And in in Motorola's case, I've had no complaints. I do most of my casual gaming on the Nexus 7, so my Moto X is for everything else. And it's performed great. And one of the chief reasons is …

Six months of great battery life

'All-day' battery life means whatever Motorola wants it to. But 14 or so hours is plenty for me.

Battery life is great — especially when you consider that battery the Moto X capacity isn't all that great. Too often folks confuse capacity for performance, that a 2,200 mAh battery shouldn't last a long time simply because it's a smaller number than, say, 3,000. At home and the office — where I'm on Wifi a good 90 percent of the time — I easily get about 15 hours without having to charge, which usually gets me from wake-up to bedtime. On the road — which is about as taxing as it gets, especially at trade shows, yeah, I'd need to charge up at some point. But only once.

Motorola talked a lot about "all-day" battery life. That's not exactly a technical measurement of anything, and, frankly, it sounds like the marketing mumbo jumbo we've come to loathe from manufactures. But the fact remains that, pound for pound, Moto X had excellent battery life. From the time I unplug to the time I go to bed? For me, in my normal, everyday routine, that's "all day." Your mileage will vary, of course.

I do, however, miss having wireless charging. It's not the end of the world by any means. But I have wireless chargers just sitting around now, and I love being able to just wake up and grab the phone without the (gasp) hassle of unplugging.

Another strong point for me — the rear speaker. Motorola's always done well with those, and it continues with Moto X.

Six months with a so-so camera

The Moto X camera was disappointing, but you can still get good shots out of it.

And we'll close out the hardware with the single-most disappointing feature on the Moto X — the camera. Part of that may be from how much Motorola built it up at our launch briefing. It's a 10-megapixel shooter with a "clear" pixel to let in more light. But pretty immediately we could tell it simply wasn't as good as we were told — or even shown. Focusing was odd. Low-light shooting was pretty horrible.

Some of that was addressed in software updates, particularly focus. Keeping HDR turned on all the time helps. I still feel like I'm cheating a bit with that, though. But on the other hand, in this world of Instagram filters and "Auto Awesome" enhancements, what the hell. Airbrush all the things. And a good bit of what bugs me about the camera is that what you see on the screen at the time the shutter fires is different (and often worse) than the end result.

And that's not to say I don't get some pictures that I'm not proud of. I'm not blowing things up to be poster-size. Moto X has a decent camera. Not great, but also not one that makes me want to carry a second phone. I've also ended up using the wrist-flick to launch the camera app far more than I thought I would. I could still be just a tad faster, but I usually can pull the phone from my pocket, twist the wrist and just about be ready to shoot by the time I've lifted the phone into my line of sight.

Six months of subtle software

Like we said from the beginning with the Moto X, what we've got here is a mix of stock simplicity — Motorola did next to nothing to change the default Android experience — and a few subtle but important (and extremely useful) additions, smartly integrated into the overall experience.

A "stock" experience with useful features added on? Sold!

Active Display pops the time and notifications onto your screen without having to hit the power button. Only the pixels being used are lit up, so it's not a drain on the battery. And it's mostly smart enough to not "breathe" when it doesn't need to — say, in your pocket, or when left alone for a period of time. Pull the phone from your pocket, though, and you'll immediately see it fire up. That's smart. Tap a notification to see a preview — say, e-mail or a text message — and determine if it's worth opening now, or if you can ignore it for later. If you do want to open it, all you have to do is slide your finger. It's extremely well done, feels natural and is instantly missed if I grab another phone.

Touchless Control is the next big one. We've all gotten used to being able to bark orders at our phone with Google Now, but Motorola took it one step further. You don't even have to hit the power button first. Just say "OK, Google Now," and it wakes up and awaits your command. I've found it to be great when I'm being lazy — setting a reminder while in bed, for example — and when I'm in the car, a time in which you definitely don't want to be touching your phone any more than you absolutely have to.

My only real complaint is that it's still a little slow to open.

And then there's Motorola Assist, which pared down the old Smart Actions to three sections — Driving, Meeting and Sleeping. I use Driving to read incoming texts and calls to me. And I use Sleeping to silence the phone from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. The do-not-disturb mode is a must-have (and really should be baked into Android itself).

Finally, you can't talk about Motorola without talking about keeping its phones updated. Not only did Moto X get updated to Android 4.4 faster than even Google's own Nexus 4, it's already on Android 4.4.2. The question is whether that update pace can continue now that Lenovo owns the company. Was the closer relationship to Google what kept that going? Something else? And how did carrier certification receive approval so quickly? We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

It's also worth mentioning that Motorola has offloaded a number of its on-device apps to Google Play. We can't understate the importance of that. For one, it makes updating easy — you do it just like any other app. It also sidesteps the carriers in that updating, say, the camera doesn't require a complete system update — and therefore doesn't require carrier certification. That's a big deal, and it's made for a better phone.

Six months later? Still my phone of choice

Moto X isn't going to be in my pocket forever. I know that. It knows that. (At least I like to think it knows that. It's nothing personal.) I don't know when that'll happen, but it'll happen. Repeat: In all likelihood, we'll probably see a better phone than the Moto X in 2014. Maybe it'll be from Motorola. Maybe someone else.

But it's going to take a lot to dethrone it, for me. The ergonomics, first and foremost. Huge, flat phones just don't do it for me. The curviness of Moto X goes a long way toward making it the best phone for me. It just fits my hand the way a smartphone should.

That Moto X was available on so many U.S. carriers so quickly was a big deal. But the same goes for it not being available outside the U.S. for so long. As good as the Moto G is, Moto X is better. The rest of the world deserved (and still does) to experience it.

The bottom line? Six months into the Moto X, I'm still loving it. It's not perfect. But it's far more than good enough.

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3 years ago

Google Play Music update adds offline radio caching, in-app device management and several fixes

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A few buttons change places and functionality improves across the entire app

It's been a little while since our last Google Play Music update, but we can say with today's new features the wait was worth it. First on the list is the ability to cache radio stations for offline listening — just like you were always able to do with specific albums and tracks, you can now create radio stations and save them for offline listening. It isn't totally clear how much of the station is cached (they're usually "infinitely" long), but we're sure a good bit of listening will be required before you hit the end of the cache.

Next up is in-app management of your Google Play Music authorized devices. Anyone with a number of devices or just switches phones often will know that you quickly hit the cap of 10 authorized devices, and now you can manage which ones have access to your music account directly from the app settings. Speaking of settings, they're nested in the slide-in panel from the left side now rather than an overflow button in the top action bar.

There are a few more fixes and tweaks throughout the interface in the latest update as well. You now have better options for managing your music queue with "Play Next" buttons on songs, albums and artist listings, the Cast button for sending music to your Chromecast moves down to the bottom center of album art when viewing your current song and you now have the ability to manually refresh your music collection from the settings.

It's a whole lot to digest for just one update, but we think more than a few Google Play Music users will be enjoying these improvements — we already are.

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3 years ago

Latest Aviate update brings music-focused 'Listening Space' that auto-opens when you plug in headphones

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Every song you listen to will be accompanied by artist info, nearby shows and Spotify suggestions

In its first move since being acquired by Yahoo, Aviate is making an update to its intelligent launcher called the "Listening Space." Similar to the other "spaces" on the launcher, the Listening Space brings together all of your music listening services and apps to one area. Further, Aviate will suggest new music apps that are related to what you currently have so you can download them simply from Google Play.

The Listening Space will automatically launch when you plug a pair of headphones into your phone, making the experience even more seamless. Once you begin playing music, Aviate will detect the song and offer up bios and information on the artist, such as upcoming shows near you.

Though Aviate is still technically in a closed beta, it's not too hard to get in anymore — the blog post announcing this new Listening Space gives folks an easy code to use, "MUSIC," that will get you in if you're so inclined.

Source: Aviate Blog

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3 years ago

APOD Muzei is the first plugin for Muzei Live Wallpaper, and it's awesome

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APOD Muzei brings Nasa's Astronomy Picture of the Day to Muzei Live Wallpaper

Last night, we shared Roman Nurik's new app Muzei Live Wallpaper, because Nurik writes great code and we thought it was a great app. Part of why we thought it was great was because, like Nurik's Dashclock widget application, it's fully extensible with an open API. Today we've found a developer already taking advantage of that API with APOD Muzei.

Using APOD Muzei is simple. Make sure you have Muzei Live Wallpaper installed, then install APOD from Google Play using the handy-dandy link above. Open the Muzei app, and you'll see Astronomy Picture of the Day listed as a new source in the customize menu.

Hopefully, we see a lot more plugins made for Muzei. But we're loving this one, and I have a feeling that a lot of you will too. Give it a try, it's free!

Source: +Eric Richardson

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3 years ago

Rovio teases all-new Angry Birds release

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Big Adventure and new birds promised, but not a lot else

Bird games are big news again, but the original it seems is coming back for more. In a message posted on its Twitter account, Angry Birds developer, Rovio, is teasing a brand new game. And that's about it, really. 

A "big adventure" complete with new birds is what we're told, and nothing else. Rovio's last release on Android was the racing focused Angry Birds Go, so perhaps this next one will see a return to the bird-flinging nature of old. Or maybe something completely different. We'll have to wait and see.  

Source: Rovio

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3 years ago

Announcing the 'Weekly Photo Contest: Wood' winners!

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Another solid set of pictures showing off a variety of styles and subjects

It's Wednesday, and that means it's time to show off the winning photo contest entries from the previous week. In another extremely successful contest, we received hundreds of entries with more great photos than we could shake a stick at. With a broad prompt such as "wood" there was no shortage of great subject matter out there to take pictures of, and you clearly took advantage.

We had the opportunity to pick five winners this week, each of whom will receive a Chromecast for their winning photo entry. Hit the break and check out the winning submissions for this week's contest.

Winner of a Chromecast, luke31!

Like a scene from a movie, this picture is just framed perfectly. We love both the big, dead tree that's propping up the bike and the deep dispersed woods behind it. This picture was taken with a Droid DNA and fixed up a bit with PicSay Pro. Awesome picture.

Winner of a Chromecast, GadgetGator!

Black and white photography doesn't work for every picture, but it definitely worked to great effect here. It sets off the wood grain and all of the intricate carving marks in the sculptures, giving the whole picture a cool look. Great shot!

Winner of a Chromecast, swallowingled!

This picture shows off big wood beams in the roof of an old church. We love the off-centered nature of what would otherwise be a very symmetrical photo. It shows off the wood grain without being super busy. Awesome perspective.

Winner of a Chromecast, CaseyCR!

On the other end of the black-and-white spectrum, we have this awesome close-up shot of a set of colored pencils. Everything in the background simplyl just fades away when you look at the intricate detail on the foreground pencils. Great shot.

Winner of a Chromecast, mookiekillsit!

This is an extremely interesting picture because it is dominated by the close-up wood, with just two small peeks through the holes to other subject matter in the back. The littlle bits of snow filling the holes just adds another bit of depth to it. Awesome picture.

Keep an eye on your doorsteps and mailboxes for a package, the Chromecasts are on their way!

Thanks again to everyone else who entered, and keep your eyes peeled for the next photo contest. We want the chance to give away more great prizes to everyone, so keep taking pictures and entering them!

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3 years ago

Verizon to boost data allotments, cut prices on Edge plans tomorrow

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Early upgrades will be available for anyone switching to Verizon Edge until the end of March

It seems as though a Verizon-compatbile Nexus 7 isn't the only big news coming out of the carrier tomorrow, as leaked documents show a generous overhaul of its plan offerings. As part of a horribly-named "MORE Everything" initiative, Verizon is set to boost data allowances, reduce prices and restructure its Edge financing discounts.

First up are quick changes to the current Share Everything offerings — 500MB, 1GB and 2GB data tiers are being upped to 1GB, 2GB and 3GB at no additional cost. Better yet, existing Share Everything users will be automatically migrated to the higher data tiers.

For those who are taking advantage of Verizon's Edge financing plans, the smartphone access fee for data tiers less than 8GB per month is being dropped by $10, and the fee if you have over 10GB is being dropped by $20 per month. To incentivize more people over to device financing plans, Verizon will also be offering early upgrades to anyone switching to Edge until the end of March.

These aren't revolutionary changes, but we love to see a little reaction from Verizon to drop the cost of data as both T-Mobile and AT&T have made moves in this direction as of late. We'll have a better feel for all of the promotions when they go live tomorrow.

Source: AndroidPolice; Verizon

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3 years ago

Microsoft could bring Android app support to Windows, Windows Phone

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Software giant 'seriously considering' Android app support, reports The Verge

Future Windows Phone handsets and Windows computers could run Android apps, according to a report from The Verge's Tom Warren. Citing unnamed sources, the outlet says Microsoft is "seriously considering" bringing support for Android applications to its Windows and Windows Phone operating systems. While discussions are said to be ongoing within Microsoft, and opinions within the company apparently sharply divided, the move is seen as a possible way for Windows Phone to bridge the so-called "app gap" between with Android and iOS.

Warren points out that the ubiquity of Android and its relatively strong library of apps could allow Microsoft to position Android support as a "Band-Aid" for its Windows Phone app woes. The move has echoes of BlackBerry's Android runtime, a feature which in its latest release allows BlackBerry 10 devices to run Android apps alongside native BB10 apps. Any Microsoft runtime, like BlackBerry's, would likely lack Google Play Services, and thus wouldn't offer the same APIs as an "official" Google Android device. (It's also worth considering how vastly different the design languages of Windows and Android are right now.)

Nevertheless, many companies are already working on getting Android and Windows to play nicely together, including Bluestacks and manufacturers like ASUS, with dual-OS devices. For its part, Microsoft is reported to have reached out to HTC late last year over installing Windows Phone as a dual-boot option on some of its Android phones.

Any move towards official Android app support on Windows could have far-reaching consequences for Microsoft and Google. Though the decision-making process is apparently at an early stage, it'll be interesting to see whether Microsoft decides to take a chance on Android, and if so whether it's able to turn this feature into a boost in sales and app numbers.

Source: The Verge

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3 years ago

Grab a UK Nexus 5 for £285 for the next 3 days

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Time to get your Groupon for a £15 saving over Google pricing

If you're a Brit looking to pick up a Nexus 5, acting in the next 3 days could net you one for £15 less than Google's pricing. The deal has appeared on well known deals site, Groupon, and includes free shipping on your new phone. It'll be a 16GB black model you'll be getting, but considering you also get free shipping you're actually saving around £25 over picking one up from the Google Play Store. 

If this sounds like the deal for you, hit the source link below and get it while you can!

Source: Groupon

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3 years ago

LG teases G2 Mini ahead of Mobile World Congress

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Miniature G2 tipped for Feb. 24 launch

Rumors of a miniaturized LG G2 making its debut at Mobile World Congress have been circulating for the past few weeks, and now it looks like the device is a lock for the Barcelona-based tradeshow. LG Mobile has just posted the image above on its Facebook page, inviting fans to "experience the mini" at MWC on Feb. 24. And sure enough, alongside the miniature cupcake, starfish and sneaker there's a shrunken-down G2, which when viewed from the back is the spitting image of the full-sized version.

It's unclear whether the G2 Mini might match its big brother's high-end hardware, as Sony's Xperia Z1 Compact does, or whether the Korean company will opt for the same approach as local rival Samsung, with a cheaper, lower-specced handset like the Galaxy S4 Mini. Whatever happens, we'll be in Barcelona on Feb. 24 to bring you full coverage of LG's new mini.

Source: LG (Facebook)

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3 years ago

Google's $3.2 billion Nest acquisition is a done deal

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Regulatory filing shows deal closed on Feb. 7

Nest is now officially a Google property after the deal has been finalized. A regulatory filing submitted by Google shows that things were signed and sealed on Feb. 7. The $3.2 billion deal brings Tony Fadell and his team officially under the Google banner, where earlier reports put them at the center of Google's future hardware projects. 

It's been a busy year so far for Google what with bringing Nest on board and letting Motorola go to Lenovo. Now the paperwork is done though, we can only wonder what Google has in store. 

via re/code

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3 years ago

Canon launches new EOS 1200D and an app to help you use it

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New entry-level DSLR has its own mobile app to help you get started with your new camera

Canon has today pulled the wraps off its latest DSLR, the EOS 1200D, and announced the release of a companion app for Android and iOS to help folks get started with using it. The 1200D is the latest entry-level DSLR from Canon, which will come in at an attractive price point of £349.99 (body only) when it goes on sale in March. 

With the companion app, Canon is offering quick start guides, tutorials and troubleshooting guides to help you get the best from your camera. Having stuff built in to the camera is OK, but it makes complete sense to start moving such information onto the thing in your pocket. 

The companion app is available to download now from the Play Store at the link above. So if you're lining up a new 1200D next month you've got a little time to take a look around first. 

Source: Canon

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